Olof Hoverfält wanted to figure out which pieces of his clothing were truly worth owning, so he tracked everything he wore — for three years — in a sprawling spreadsheet.
Now he's done an exhaustive data-analysis to figure out what the "cost per wear" of each item is — with one "wear" being defined as wearing the article of clothing one day.
In this long essay he describes what he's learned, including tons of charts. For example, his sneaker epiphany:
The 90 euro Converse sneakers and the 30 euro Mywears have a similar CPW of 0.87 euros and 0.70 €, respectively. Their effective cost is roughly the same, which means that walking around in the cheap Mywears is roughly as expensive as walking around in Converses. In this case, money buys quality, at least when measured by durability. It takes about two pairs of Mywears to match one pair of Converses. From a sustainability perspective, I would imagine one pair to be better than two, even though the items may have differing individual footprints.
The more expensive sneakers, the 150 euro Diesels, perform remarkably worse than the two aforementioned. Their actual CPW of 1.88 € is more than twice as high. In this case, money does not seem to buy quality, at least not durability. The Diesels did last twice as long as the Mywears, but they were five times more expensive, leaving them at a far lower level of cost performance.
At the end of his essay, he offers nine rules for buying clothes, based on what he's learned.
The central lesson? It's usually worth paying for higher-quality items, since they last longer. He also tries to apply a sort of efficiency metric to his clothes-buying advice — i.e. don't buy stuff you'll only very rarely wear — which may not make sense to other people, depending on their aesthetics and the role clothes play in their lives. A piece of clothing can be useful (or meaningful) to own even if worn only very rarely, bien sur.
A few of his rules:
Focus on use, not price. Use is about value. As with any value-cost tradeoff, it makes sense to look for value first, then work out what constraints the cost might bring. Remember that pricier clothes may actually be less expensive.
Avoid "second tier" clothes. Those are the ones that are kind of nice, but never seem to get picked into an outfit as you prefer very similar but better ones. It really does make sense to only have favorite clothes.
Avoid clothes for narrow contexts. Seek to have everything as compatible as possible with as broad a set of contexts as possible.
Regardless of whether you agree with his precepts, it's a fascinating data dive.