As a fashion editor, I thought I spent way more on clothes every month than the average person, sometimes up to £400. But it turns out I’m really not, and though I’m aware that that’s a substantial amount of money, a quick poll around the office and my friends tells me that it’s in fact pretty average.
And according to the experts, we’re all spending too much. Financial planner Pete Dunn told me we should spend 5% of our take-home pay on clothing. So if your annual salary is £18k, you should only be spending £66 a month on clothes, and if you’re on £30k – the average UK salary – that should go up to £100, according to more research by NimbleFins.
So what are we spending on? I decided to ask several women on different salaries how much they spend on clothes in a month, and the results were so fascinating. Some names have been changed for the purposes of this article.
Vicky, freelance PR director (part time), London/Essex
Salary: £1.5k depending on month
Money spent on clothes: £400-500. As I’ve got older I’ve started to veer towards more expensive brands and investment pieces although I do love certain high street brands such as & Other Sotries. My other faves are Hush, Whistles, Arket, Me + Em and Topshop. I’m also finding I’m buying increasing amounts online but only keep things I’m really happy with as I’ve bought so much in the past that I’ve only worn once and then decided I don’t like. I tend to mix high street clothes with investment pieces such as handbags and shoes, and I always find a good coat elevates an outfit.
Wendy, freelance communications manager (part time), London
Money spent on clothes: £100 per year. I’ve checked my rail and I think that in the last year, I’ve bought six or seven tops (all second hand), two pairs of shoes (new), some jeans (new) and probably some underwear (new). That’s probably about £100. You can get nice stuff in the charity shops nowadays, they only put out the good donations and I tend to get stuff like M&S, Zara or Miss Selfridge for about a fiver. I don’t do it to save money but to reuse the vast amount of clothes people give away.
Ana, business developer, Brighton
Money spent on clothes: £100-200. I tend to know what I’m looking for and I buy mainly from ASOS. I definitely used to spend a lot more on clothes when I lived near the shopping centre in Brighton. I’ve cut down a lot since moving. These days I focus more on the type of clothing and company I buy from, acquiring less but more meaningful pieces. I generally tend to buy jeans and shoes, I have an absurd amount of Vans in my house and the biggest stack of jeans, now starting to add dungarees to the collection. I’m not into accessories so don’t spend on jewellery or bags, but would happily buy Vans every month. I’ve also noticed I love new socks, so buy them regularly, and I’m an underwear hoarder.
Laura, press executive, London
Money spent on clothes: £30-100. £30 will be a once a month purchase, and £100 if I’m going on holiday or to an event like a wedding. I spend that much based on a variety of things. Realistically, I can’t afford to spend much more and I’d rather put the extra cash towards savings or a holiday. On the other side of that, I’m trying to buy more consciously, so only things I love, will wear and are good quality so long lasting. Although I’m fortunate that I work in fashion and can borrow items for internal events, I also have a generous uniform allowance so that helps to fulfil my shopping ‘wants’, but I’m finding more and more that I have allowance leftover because of the more conscious spending.
Sarah, sales & marketing manager, Brighton
Salary: £32k base and around £20k bonus
Money spent on clothes: £250-300. I order mostly online and so probably return around half of what I buy (keeping the £250-300 worth). My favourite brands are & Other Stories, H&M and a bit of Arket and Mango. I’m definitely starting to think about shopping more sustainably, and my purchases are usually considered. I allow myself to buy things off my wish list only, no random purchases.
Rachel, stay at home mum, Essex
Salary: £1,000 monthly allowance from my husband
Money spent on clothes: £500-800. I spend this on a combination of ASOS, Zara and sports clothing (usually Gym Shark). Occasionally I treat myself to something from Net-A-Porter, and I always shop online as I hate walking around a shop.
Sophie, social media manager, outside of London
Black Friday 2021
Money spent on clothes: £400. I mainly shop at ASOS for convenience and one of my favourite brands is Monki. I’m an impulse buyer and I don’t really think about the money, if I like it I buy it. I look at Instagram and articles for inspirations and often buy into trends but trying to be conscious when doing so. I also like to pair new items with old ones in my wardrobe for new looks. I always car boot my clothes and donate the remaining to charity to upcycle. Just to note that I’m not based in London so shopping is not as accessible (my nearest Zara is one hour away).