It was a headline guaranteed to make you choke — “Women spend $125,000 on clothes in a lifetime and STILL complain they have nothing to wear.”
The tongue-in-cheek (sorta) story from Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper said new research “has finally confirmed what husbands have suspected for years - that women spend a fortune on clothes and still have nothing to wear.
“The average woman spends nearly $125,000 on clothes in a lifetime, but despite this rather frightening sum 60 percent still struggle to find something to wear to work or on a night out with friends.
“The poll also shows that women buy roughly 3,109 items over the years, including 271 pairs of shoes, 185 dresses and 145 bags.”
Younger women are more likely to spend the most in their lifetimes, the researchers said, with the under-25 crowd expected to hit $200,000 or more in purchases.
“Women never seem to have enough clothes,” an assistant manager for a British fashion house told the newspaper. “Many feel the pressure to keep up with ever-changing fashions and this means they’re always buying something new.”
I’ve gotta confess — $125,000 doesn’t seem that far out of line to me, when I stop and mentally review my purchases over the years.
There were the $50 (back in the mid-1980s, even) Nikes I just had to have to “fit in” during high school, the polo shirts with a variety of zoo creatures on the breast, the purses to match every outfit. I went to a college where a lot of people dressed up — ties for men, dresses and heels for women — for classes, depending on your major. Even for casual events, designer jeans were the norm. Having a lot of outfits, in part because you didn’t know what style you’d need to meet day to day, became a way of life that carried forward into the working world.
On many levels, it’s not fair to compare the costs of men’s and women’s fashions. A man can buy a white shirt, dress slacks, dress shoes and a conservatively colored tie, and he’s set for everything from work to a nice dinner out, a summertime funeral or a casual wedding. Most women would need at least two or three outfits — and as many shoes and handbags — to cover the same range of events.
Men’s clothing doesn’t change that much year to year. Tie and lapel widths might morph, pleats might fall out of fashion on pants, but for the most part a guy can get away with wearing things until they fall apart. Women, though, have to deal with dramatic changes in hemlines, necklines, lengths and colors from season to season. One month being “fashionable” means exposing your legs nearly to the hipbone, the next it means exposing your chest nearly to your belly button.
A friend recently told me that the Fashion Police even once ruled at a local factory, since shut down. Wearing designer jeans and shirts was simply expected, she said, even though they’d get stained and burned from the work.
So $125,000 and nothing to wear? Yep, I can see how that very easily happens. We women are not irresponsible fashion slaves — we’re just trying to find things that fit and fit in.
I think I’ll head to the store this weekend, though. According to that survey, I’m a little behind in the shoe race.