PPW – Or How I Learned To Justify My Expenditures

I loved college. (Go Ducks!) I loved my friends, my classes, my freedom. Not that I was repressed prior to that or anything, but I mean that enjoyed making (most of) my own decisions in college. I enjoyed being an adult.

No, I was not crazy or wild. I was, actually, quite calm and well-behaved. I think the wildest thing I did was sleep out on a sand dune on the Oregon coast in a tent with several other friends on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which, for those who don’t know, is the third week in January. And when I say, “sleep”, I exaggerate. We about froze to death. We had taken two cars and had two tents. When we “woke up” (read “gave up”) on the frigid dawn of the day after MLKjr Day, my tent-mates and I discovered that the other tent/car had given up and driven the 40 minutes back to the U of Oregon.


To be sure, I wouldn’t recommend sleeping on a sand dune in January to anyone except possibly college kids looking to be wild. That kind of wild I can approve of. There was no alcohol involved. Just silliness.

But I digress. I meant to talk about my college obsession with “PPW”. What is PPW, you ask? PPW is the Price Per Wearing of any article of clothing we, as college students, considered buying. There is also its lesser-known cousin, the PPU – Price Per Use. This was also an important consideration.

Take the free gym bag I mentioned in a previous post. Great PPU. Especially considering that it was A) free and B) is now 29 years old and still going strong.

But…again…I digress.

PPW – yes, that’s where I was going.

Exhibit A:

Within days prior to my graduation from Berlin American High School, I bought myself a letterman’s jacket. I had never had a letterman’s jacket. I hadn’t been in any high school long enough to earn one. But finally, my senior year, I earned my letter. What sport, you ask? Ha. Don’t make me laugh. I earned it for my involvement with Speech Club and Drama Club.

Yes, I was that kind of student. I even had a teal-colored corduroy pant suit. Jealous?


So…PPW…my letterman’s jacket, as I recall, cost about 200 dollars, back in 1988. I paid for it out of the $500 I’d won for the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars essay contest. (Who says writing doesn’t pay?) I wore that jacket approximately 1.5 times before graduating. If that.

I did wear it a few times in college because it was kinda cool and said Berlin on it. I got comments every time. But it was HOT, wool, heavy, and Eugene isn’t exactly cold so much as it is wet…so rain-proof gear was much more useful.

I still have the jacket. It’s been worn, oh, MAYBE half a dozen more times since then…on super-cold days…to take out the compost…

PPW of said jacket: about $25. NOT GOOD.


Exhibit B:

The other coat I bought out of that essay contest win: a German Loden trench coat. $300. Wool. Classic. Red and Black. It was warm, fashionable, and, while I only wore it on Sundays to church and occasional other outings, I wore it for about 20 years. I wore it until it was threadbare on the cuffs, missing buttons, pushing its “classic” definition. I LOVED that coat. Still do.

PPW of that coat: oh, definitely less than a penny.


One last exhibit: the silk dress I wore to my 10 year high school reunion.

As I recall, I paid $89 for it, 15 years ago.

I wore it once.

I still really like this dress.  But I by the time the next thing rolled around to which I could wear such a thing...I was pregnant.  And after that my body was switched with an alien's body and I never looked the same again.
I still really like this dress. But by the time the next event rolled around to which I could wear such a thing…I was pregnant. And after that my body was switched with an alien’s body and I never looked the same – or wore the same things – again.

This July will be my 25th high school reunion. If it wasn’t in July, I’d wear my letterman’s jacket. Then the PPW would be down to, oh, $20? But wool isn’t exactly summer fabric. I’ll probably just wear the hippy-ish skirt and top I bought for my friend’s wedding last year. It’s good for a mother of three. And the PPW is already down to about $3.

Yeah. That works for me.