How Much Is it “Worth”? (Justifying those new Sidis)
What the hell is it?
We throw these words around all the time. “It’s not worth it to me.” or “It’s a great value.”
But what does it mean? How do we quantify it?
As a person who loves good design and well made products but hails from a band of hard-working and thrifty farm-folk, I developed a straightforward method for calculation when I was in college. Here’s was the math I employed then:
$.25 x Number of Times Worn/Used must equal Price of Item.
“Expensive” was defined as (besides shit I just flat out can’t afford) something that was likely not to log the required amount of wearings. “Inexpensive” was something that would go above and beyond the call of duty.
So in college, a $40 pair of shoes had to be able to be worn 160 times in order to be “worth it”. A $90 pair of running shoes? 360 times (or thereabouts).
My Current Calculation Method
College was a long, long, long time ago and thankfully I make a little bit more money than I did back at the Seattle University Women’s Center, so I’ve since adjusted for inflation. My current calculation rings in at $.75 per Use.
What this ends up meaning is that my $239 SIDI road shoes, which are indestructible need only to last through 318 uses in order to earn their value. Since I’ve had these damn shoes since 2001, that’s no problem. Even the Sidi mountain bike shoes that I bought for ‘cross in 2006 have probably earned their keep.
It’s for this reason that I’m far more willing to drop green on good denim than a “special dress” for a wedding (or insert other societally-imposed formal social event here). A pair of $190 Earnest Sewn jeans? I guarantee you they will get worn at least 253 times in two years (about the time I might be looking at an alternate cut). They’re durable, versatile and timeless.
People dismiss products like Nau jackets (sustainable! super stylish! high performing! an “everyday” wear item!) because of a pricetag in the $200-300 range. Yet these same people will spend half that amount on a formal dress that they’ll only wear once or twice.
It blows my mind.
How it Works for Clothing
According to these calculations, I tend to buy cheaper cotton T-shirts and basics on sale from places like The Gap, Banana Republic or J.Crew (even high quality T-shirts, though they’re ever so soft and well cut, start to look old after a pretty predictable while), spend money on pants that are versatile and timeless, drop cash for great outerwear and accessories (jackets, scarves, gloves, bags – which you tend to wear and use more than other clothing items), and search for formal-wear or casual dresses at relatively well-edited thrift stores like Crossroads Trading Company or local consignment shops.
Special Note: I do not believe that clothing is ever an “investment”. That’s f-ing ludicrous.
How it Works with Cycling Apparel and Accessories
Technical gear like Showers Pass jackets (Elite 2.0 for super bad conditions or Double Century for semi-awful weather) , Rapha, Swobo, or Ibex merino wool baselayers, Swobo jerseys, and Oakley sunglasses more than earn their keep in my cycling closet. Team kits? Not so much. (They usually last a year at best and cost around $400 for a complete set-up).
I have bad feet, so shoes are a priority. Sidi has never failed to deliver and Sal and I have been wearing the same road shoes since 2001. They literally will not wear out (which sort of irks me because it leaves me without an excuse to buy new ones).
Luckily, Lake gave me a pair of CX401 Carbon Fiber white road shoes last year at the Wend Magazine photo shoot, so my thirst for new and shiny was met. Having worn Sidis for so long, it took me a few months to adjust to the fit of the Lakes (it’s a more aggressive heel cup) but when I did, I fell head over heels in love with the white, carbon-ey wonderful shoes from heaven. As for value, I didn’t have to buy them, so they’re automatically in the “value” category for me (grin), but let’s pretend I’d spent the $498 that they cost. Will they give me the 644 wearings required for me to call them “worth it”?
Only time will tell, but since they’re white I can only wear them for about half the year. Assuming I ride every other day during those six months, I’d wear them 90 times in a year which means they’ll have to last a little over seven years to earn their keep. If they are anything like the Sidis then I’d lay money that they’ll make it, but this is my first experience with Lakes (and with the boa closure, which I love but wonder about in terms of durability).
These are the kind of calculations I run when I’m trying to be at least a little bit objective about the worth or value of an item. I find that, no matter how you go about it, it helps to actually have some kind of consistent system whereby you can compare one item to the next.
What about you?
What about you? How do you calculate worth? Do you worry about value? Do you run the numbers?