Posted on 15 Comments

Another Day, Another Dollar – is that corset worth it?

(via Pixabay)

There’s an old saying that goes, “Another day, another dollar” which originally meant a humdrum work day (if I understand it correctly). However, as of late I’ve put another spin on this saying.

To me, it means that however many dollars I spend on an object, it had better last me at least that many days.

Take this in the context of corsets: If I buy a corset for $60, it had better last me two months’ worth of wear. I once had a corset that cost me close to $45, but it only lasted me perhaps 20 or 30 wears before falling apart. I consider this to be a bad investment, no matter how cheap it is. However, a $400 corset that lasts me 600 wears over a two year span is a much wiser investment, because if I follow through with my intention of wearing a corset on a nearly daily basis  and I’m on a budget, I don’t want to be continually buying a new corset every couple of months. Even if the price tag hurts now, you will find that it’s more economic in the long run.

It works for more than just corsets, too.

Electronics: My $1000 at-the-time laptop lasted me 5 years before crashing. I spent approximately 55 cents a day owning this computer.

Junk Food/restaurants: If you buy a chocolate bar for $2, break it in half and enjoy each half on a different day. This method has greatly helped me deal with my binge issues. I also rarely go to restaurants. If I dine out once a month, I have no problem spending $30 on a meal.

Other clothes: apart from corsets, I almost never buy “designer” clothing. If I buy a decently nice shirt for $40, I’ll likely wear that shirt once every two weeks, over two years (a total of 52 wears). In the past, I’ve purchased a cheap bra for only $15. I’m not sure if it even lasted me 15 wears, because it was so uncomfortable.

Other examples:

  • I purchased an elliptical machine off Craigslist for $50. Since gym membership is between $1-2 a day in my area, I told myself that if I could use the elliptical 5-6 times a week for a month, I would consider the machine “paid off”. I’ve had the machine for 2-3 years now and used it well over 50 times.
  • I purchased a CD for $20 and put the album into my playlist to listen to while I sew. I’ve listened to the playlist almost 80 times over the course of the last year, which means I paid about 25 cents for each playthrough of that album.
  • My parents purchased a $2000 piano when we moved into this house. I played it nearly every day between the age of 13 and 19, and I still play it occasionally today, so I would estimate that it cost about 75 cents per day that it’s used.

An example of something I don’t buy/ don’t consider “worth it”: I don’t go to the movies or buy DVDs unless they are in the bargain bin for $2. It’s unlikely that I’ll watch any movie more than a couple of times. I tend not to buy books (unless they’re classics/ collectors’ edition) when I can simply go to the library instead.

Examples where this sentiment doesn’t work:

  • Housing and transportation – an $18,000 car won’t last you 50 years being driven every day, even with the best upkeep. Likewise, you will probably not live 250 years in a $100,000
    Can luxury purchases be justified?
    Can luxury purchases be justified? Corset: Sparklewren, MUA: Stella Amore, Photo: Trillance

    house (or any house, really).

  • Good food/meals – at one point I was able to live on $5/ week for food. It was a lot of beans, carrots and apples. However it’s not the most nutritious, and it’s not long before insanity from meal boredom sets in.
  • Luxuries – I don’t know how else to put this: luxury means that you don’t worry about the cost. That’s why it’s a luxury. There is a certain threshold (with any item, not just corsets) where the hardiness and utility of an object sort of levels off compared with price. The corset that’s worth over $1000 sitting wrapped in acid-free tissue paper in an engraved box in my room isn’t going to be worn 1000 times. Probably not even 100 times. But just owning it and admiring it as a piece of art brings me joy, and I hope that it will stay in the family for 100 years or more.

Is that corset worth it?

I’ve mentioned before that an affordable “starter” corset off a place like Ebay may cost $50, but it may only last you 500 hours or even less, and come with no warranty. If you purchase a corset for $500 but it lasts you 10,000 hours of wear, that’s double the return on your investment, because you spent 10x more, but you gained 20x more use out of it.

I’m not saying to never buy cheaper corsets, because they have their place too – for instance, if you buy a $100 corset but only wear it for 3 months before losing interest, or only wearing it once in awhile, it’s a lot better to have only spent $100 instead of $500. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy more than one corset either. I’m certainly guilty of owning many corsets – I consider them luxuries. What I am saying is that when it comes to medium-to-large investments, consider the realistic long-term benefits and consequences of your purchase.

Above all else, never expect a $50 corset to perform like a $300 corset. Swindlers and crooks aside, you get what you pay for. After having wasted thousands of dollars on cheap corsets, I’ve never found a loophole in the quality/price relationship. I’ve created an enormous playlist of reviews, available for free, so that you can make an informed purchase and save your money. My loss is your gain. Please use it to your advantage.

If you liked this article, you may also like “The 5 Most Important Factors of an OTR corset“.

15 thoughts on “Another Day, Another Dollar – is that corset worth it?

  1. Though I never thought about purchases exactly like this, in the back of my mind I do always think how long will this be used & last to decide on the compromise between cost & quality. Your £1 per day method is a lot more precise & I will start doing this in the future.

    I bought an OTR storm overbust from WKD for my steampunk themed wedding & it looked and felt so much better than the £50-£100 ones some of my friends bought for the occasion. Everyone was amazed at my shape and how comfortable I was in it (especially the people who had tried the cheaper OTR corsets.

    2 years ago I agonized over whether I should buy a custom made to measure bra from R&P which cost £315. In the end I got it and it has absolutely been worth it as I wear it 80% of the time & I have not had to buy another bra since. Of course the fit and posture is far above any other expensive bras I have ever had & it looks and feels the same. The only downside is that I did loose a lot of weight in the last year so I had to invest a bit more in it to have it altered to fit me. Now I need to wait for my weight and shape to settle down before I get another one.

  2. I was reading some Victorian advice that sugested women keep a list on their wardrobe of their dresses and record when they wore them and then to work out the cost per wear. It said they would be suprised at the ‘true cost’ of their clothing and would give them an idea where to spend their money on their clothing. It’s a good way of looking at things!

    1. Thank you for that wonderful insight! Of course my article would have been ‘nothing new’ but I had no idea that it was actually a Victorianism! Just another way to show that I was born in the wrong era. ;)

      1. The etiquette book I referenced in the comments of one of your videos has the same principle in it. Record how often an article of clothing is worn and how much one paid for it. Then shop accordingly. They even gave suggested prices of what someone should pay for a good quality piece without overspending. Granted, the prices they give are ludicrously cheap now, 50+ years on, but I still do my best to live by the idea. Plan a wardrobe to mix and match. Look at the cost of use of things you buy. Look long term vs immediate gratification. Look second-hand and look for ways to improve the items you already have. It works for sewing supplies too! I bought a 1917 treadle machine for $60, spent another $60 in restoration materials, and spent 3 weeks restoring it. I use it more than the electric machine my mom has.

        I still impulse shop way too much, especially when I’m feeling depressed, but I’m slowly getting better about it. My dad has been repeating the U-haul and hearse saying as long as I remember.

        I bought an elliptical (for full price – ouch – but I needed one meant for very heavy users at the time) and have kept track of my use of it for over 4 years now. I’m hoping to get it below $0.75/hr within the next year or two. Even if I don’t hit that number, the investment into my health was worth it.

  3. Hey. What can I do if I really don’t have the money to invest in a really good corset? i have one leatherotics corset and 3 corsets that don’t fit me anymore because they are to small. I am a student and I have only 50 euro per month to spend for my private use. So when I buy something it is second hand always. Games, books, clothes….etc. With corset that doesn’t work. Sometimes i have to use my pocket money for food because the money I get from my parents is not enough….Do you have any suggestion? I want to go to the university when I am finished with school so I will be on a budget a long time.

    1. Hi Anja,
      If you have corsets that don’t fit you and you never wear them, I’d suggest selling them for extra pocket money. You can use that money to save up for a corset, or use it for emergencies. Many people find that collecting cheaper corsets “creeps up” and surprises them – it’s easy to spend $50 on six corsets over the course of two years, than it is to spend $300 on one corset all at once. If your Leatherotics corset fits you well, I’d recommend wearing it until you’re ready to move onto a better piece. If you need to repair it at any point from frequent use, I can show you how. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to your priorities, and whether you want a custom corset badly enough to save up for it. Some people don’t understand why I own so many corsets, but they may have 20 pairs of jeans and 50 pairs of shoes. I have 3-4 pairs of shoes that I wear most often (boots, running shoes, heels, sandals) and two pairs of jeans. Other people may spend $10 every month on a new tube of lipstick that they never finish, not knowing that in one year they could have $120 saved for something else. It’s just different preferences and different priorities. :)

  4. Wow, you’ve gone into a lot of thought about getting your money’s worth for each thing in your life! I’ve done this to some extent. I’m glad you posted this, so people can understand the investment.

    I think somewhat the same way about eating out once a month. I only have one good quality corset, so I consider it a luxury, since I don’t wear it much. My leather Timeless Trends corset I bought at a renaissance faire for $200 (before I’d found Timeless Trends). I have had it since 2009, and I only wear it a few times a year. I will probably never get 200 wears out of it (though I might be able to sell it to get some of the money back at some point), but owning it makes me happy. Same with a few other items of clothing. My regular jeans cost me under 20 cents a wear, probably. Eating out and going to the movies once in a while is a treat. Until recently, I’d lived for a year mostly on $1-2/day for food. My biggest luxuries are my PGM dress forms (2–one with legs and one without, about $1000 for both, I think), Bernina 530 sewing machine ($1400), and Babylock Evolve serger ($1600).

    1. You make a great point Angela! Sewing can be an incredibly expensive hobby, but if you have an industrial sewing machine, it’s really going to ramp up your productivity and it may last you much longer than a domestic. I bought an old workhorse of a Juki (already almost 20 years old, but that means it has sturdy parts) for $400, but then I ended up making the $400 back in making dresses and corsets for other people. Good machines are an investment! (If only we could justify the stockpile of fabric as an investment, too!) ;)

  5. This reminds me of an article I read once about deciding what kind of vacuum cleaner you should buy. It can be hard to know if a $500 vacuum is worth it over a $50 vacuum. (when cost is the only factor) The math used in the article was that she vacuumed once every two weeks. So over the period of the next two years, the $500 vacuum costs $9.62 per use, and the $50 vacuum costs $0.96 per use. Basically breaking the cost of the object down into smaller units so the difference is easier to comprehend. It seems a similar logic is worth applying to the value of a corset by breaking it down into how many wears its going to last, especially since the cheaper corsets have such a short lifetime. I guess it might not seem all that similar, but how many people would invest in the $50 dollar vacuum if that vacuum were practically guaranteed to to be non functional in 2 months? That would technically change it’s worth to something more like $12.50 per use, which suddenly makes the $500 vacuum more economical in the long run because you know it will last a lot longer.

    1. Exactly! There are certain other factors that help me decide whether to buy a corset, for instance whether there’s a warranty, or how good my skills are in an unlikely situation that something breaks in my corset!
      Incidentally about vacuum cleaners – my parents have an industrial vac that is from the ’70s, close to 40 years old and it still works even after our newer models have broken. Imagine, about 20-30 cents per use! They sure don’t make them like they used to!

  6. Great piece you shared, Lucy. I like this way of evaluating a new purchase. To me, frugality is about finding value according to one’s own priorities, and making conscious spending decisions. It’s not about deprivation or being cheap!

    1. Thanks Kathryn! I have to agree with you. It took me a few years to get past spontaneous purchases, and now I may spend a few days (sometimes a week or more!) mulling over anything $30 or higher. Since then I noticed that I have fewer items, but they’re higher quality and I like them more.
      I also like to think that reviewing corsets benefits three different people: Myself (because I own the piece!), the audience (as the review helps them decide if they’d like to make a future purchase) and the maker (as they’re able to make a living doing what they love). For this reason, even if I stumble upon a ‘lemon’ of a corset, as long as someone else can learn from my mistake, I’m not too upset about the purchase.

  7. What about free cheesy holiday CD’s from local NW US blues bands? LOL I love this ‘economics lesson.’ It seriously is a helpful thing to contemplate cost-effectiveness. AND I’m glad you noted “luxuries” as a separate category. Is it a problem to make the luxury excuse too often? Can books have their own category, too, please? :-)

    For my corsets, I’m thinking they may fall into several categories and YOURS truly do as I know you have pieces that are about a COLLECTION. I think a collection could be considered a luxury; but it also has definite social/historical/documentation/research value which in my mind makes it a necessary and important thing in our world, especially in the hands of someone knowledgeable and studious about the collection topic. Some of my corsets are ‘workhorses’; some are purely frivolous; many are just fashion pieces; a few have nostalgic value for me; only one is ‘collectible.’; and one is custom-made and, sorry to say, does not seem worth it’s price to me in the long run. Very interesting blog piece, Lucy…ya got me thinking! xojenny

    1. Hi Jenny! Of course I assign value to gifts, even though they’re free! ;) And yes, of course you can have books in their own category. I was just explaining my own spending priorities, and others will of course be different! I have a habit of collecting things (since I was a child, I’ve collected Barbies, miniature pianos, anime series, nail polish bottles, swords, and now corsets) but not too long ago, someone told me that there’s no U-Haul behind the Hearse. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about what collections I truly enjoy and utilize, and which ones are preventing me from living. At what point does one stop being a collector and start being a hoarder? Lol.

Comments are closed.