This page from the March 2016 issue of Oprah Magazine features a leather jacket with a retail price of $995. The copy surrounding it touts the jacket as a stylish and economical purchase. The mathematics offered to support that assertion are as dubious as a budget presented as part of a presidential campaign.
First the soft sell:
"...a wardrobe staple."
"...it's a go-to piece you can wear for years."
"...you're sure to make it your springtime standby."
Here the effort to portray the jacket as economical gets fuzzy:
Cost per wear... $6.38 for one year, $2.13 for three years and a mere $1.28 for five years. At the bottom of the chart is the qualifier: "Assuming you wear the jacket three times per week." That's an important detail in those calculations!
Let's unravel this assertion:
- Though described as a "springtime standby," to meet O Magazine's calculations the jacket must be worn a total of 156 days each year. Leather isn't easy to clean and that's a lot of wear for a light hued jacket. (It is also available in "iron and black" according to the description.) The March issue of the magazine is titled, "Make Room for a New You". Would you tire of the jacket before wearing it 780 times in five years? Would it continue to suit your style and look fashionable? Do you mind if there's a chance you'll be known as, "--------- who always wears that leather jacket"?
- Unless you've a unique relationship with the vendor who has placed a cash box in your closet into which you deposit $6.38 whenever you take the jacket off the hanger, purchasing it requires paying in full or buying it on credit. Choose the later option and wear the jacket three times per week for a year, putting aside $6.38 on each of those occasions you will pay $76.56 per month to the credit card company. Assuming the interest on the credit card is 15% (the average rate in 2015 according to US News & World Report) it will take thirteen and a half months to pay for the jacket. It will have cost $1092.
There's a slight "subprime mortgage" echo here. The jacket never costs $1.28 per wear. It costs $995. Then if you wear it a lot, or if you attract the love of your life or get hired because you feel confident wearing it...that's fantastic. Those are actual benefits to dressing well. Whether it looks wonderful on you and fits your lifestyle and budget are the questions to consider.