Guest post by Rebecca Lee
From luxurious silk scarves and diamond-studded dresses to plain cotton T-shirts and jeans, clothes serve different functions for different people. They protect us from heat and cold, blanket our insecurities, and empower us to express ourselves.
Considering the tremendous diversity in the clothes people choose to buy, there is naturally great variation in how much people pay for them. Read ahead to find how much people pay for clothing and why, and how much you should spend on your wardrobe.
How Much Do People Spend On Clothing?
Whereas some people carefully handpick their blouses from Chanel, others are satisfied with a good ol’ haul from Old Navy. There is, therefore, a large price range within which people buy their clothes.
However, on average, an individual spends about $161 per month on clothing in the United States, with women spending 76% more than men. In the United Kingdom, people spend an average of £44 on clothes per month.
Why Do People Spend What They Spend On Clothes?
In deciding how much they should spend on clothes, people keep the following factors in mind:
1. Personal Income And Wealth
No matter how much you want a dress from Prada or a Louis Vuitton scarf, you can’t spend the money that you don’t have. So our clothing spending choices are constrained by the money that we have — whether that be our monthly income or inherited wealth.
2. Thoughts On Fashion
While some people like to dress in trendy and expensive clothes, others are satisfied with comfortable, affordable clothes. Our fashion choices, thus, play an important part in determining how much we spend on clothes.
3. Quality Of The Piece
There has lately been increasing awareness about ‘fast fashion,’ or fashion that is made of cheap quality cloth using exploitative labour and bad environmental practices.
Many consumers consider clothing quality while deciding how much money to spend on it, and many opt for pieces they can invest in for the long-term instead of opting for cheap fast-fashion.
For instance, people who prioritise quality may choose Japanese selvedge denim pants (see here for an example) from renowned brands instead of cheap, low-quality jeans. Japanese denim is considered among the most high quality jeans thanks to the premium fabric and indigo dyes that are used to make it.
4. Ethical Concerns
In addition to the cheap quality of fast fashion brand clothing, responsible consumers have concerns about their unethical practices. These brands often employ labour in developing countries, and pay them peanuts for long hours of work in dangerous, shoddy conditions.
Many of these clothes also pose environmental hazards and utilise natural resources unsustainably. For instance, it takes approximately 2700 litres of water to make one cotton T-shirt, which is enough to sustain one person for 900 days.
5. Cost Per Wear
The cost per wear of a clothing item is calculated by dividing the initial cost of a piece by the number of times you’re going to wear it. For instance, if you’re going to wear a £100 shirt 50 times before getting rid of it, the cost per wear of the shirt would be £2.
Meanwhile, if you buy a much cheaper shirt for £20 and wear it only twice, the cost per wear of the shirt would be £10.
Mindful shoppers often calculate the cost per wear of the garment before deciding to spend on it. They may spend more on a piece if they think they will get better value out of it, i.e. if it has a lower cost per wear.
6. Sales And Deals
Shopping malls are inundated with shoppers on holidays because stores upon stores are offering huge discounts and sales. Many consumers buy their clothes on a sale, using discount coupons and special rewards or loyalty programmes.
Students are especially likely to avail student deals through websites like UNiDAYS to purchase clothes at prices they can afford on their limited budget.
Thrifting is a great option for people who are on a budget but don’t want to compromise on quality and fashion.
Thrifting means to visit thrift stores that sell pre-loved clothing at a fraction of the price. For price-conscious individuals with a refined sense of fashion, scouring the best thrift stores in town allows them to spend less for great finds.
How Much Should You Spend On Clothes?
The amount each person or family should spend on clothes varies greatly and depends a great deal on their income and personal preferences. However, experts believe that 5% of your budget is a good amount to spend on your clothes.
For instance, if your take-home salary is £30,000 per month, you should spend about £1500 on clothing for the year, or about £125 per month.
You can use these budgeting apps to ensure you don’t overspend on clothes.