What’s the average clothing cost per month? How much do we spend on clothing overall? These are serious questions for many consumers.
Most American budgets are dominated by three main categories: housing, transportation, and food. Those aren’t the only things we spend on. We all wear clothes, and many people are expected (or expect themselves) to conform to a specific standard of dress.
Clothing may seem like a small matter, but the money we spend on clothes is significant. The following statistics should help clarify the picture.
- The average American owns anywhere between 75 and 100+ clothing items.
- The average American spends $161 per month on clothes.
- Typical American consumers allocate 2.6% of their annual budget to shopping for new clothes.
- Americans between 25 and 34 years old spend the most on clothing per month ($123), while those aged between 65 and 74 years spend only $68 on average.
- The average American throws away over 122 pounds (55 kg) of textiles each year.
- On average, Americans wear their clothes 7 times before discarding them.
How Much Clothing Does the Average Person Have?
Before we answer the question of “how much do we spend on clothing?” let’s see how much clothing we have. The amount of clothing a person has depends on several factors, including the person’s gender, age, and lifestyle; the country one resides also matters.
There’s very little reliable data on how much clothing people own. One international survey came up with an average of 148 pieces, with responses ranging from 267 in Poland to 66 in Hungary, with the US average at 165.
Note: The survey may have limited value, as the participants were not randomly selected, and the number of participants was relatively low.
A separate survey of American women was conducted in 2021, with lower totals.
A 2016 survey of 1000 American women concluded that the average respondent had 103 items of clothing but that they only used a small percentage of those items because they thought 33% of the items were too tight, 24% too loose, and 21% “unwearable”. That could explain the feeling of having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear!
The number of clothes an average person owns varies by gender, with women keeping more pieces of clothes on average (103) than men (77).
Still, the average American man has more clothing than many counterparts: the average British man has between 20 and 30 pieces of clothing.
How Much Does the Average American Spend on Clothing?
The question of the average clothing cost per month is often asked, and the answer might surprise you. The average American spends around $161 per month on clothing, resulting in an average annual clothing expenditure of approximately $1,754.
How Does the US Compare with Other Countries?
The United States is the largest clothing market in the world, with sales of $312 billion in 2022, accounting for a little over 18% of the global apparel market.
In 2020, Americans spent $371.79 billion on clothing and footwear. China followed closely, with a $353 billion total expenditure, and the United Kingdom ($82.7 billion) closed the top three largest apparel markets. The top ten countries in terms of consumer spending on apparel in 2020 are as follows:
Average Clothing Cost Per Month: Broken Down by Gender
Now that the question of the average clothing cost per month has been answered, let’s see a breakdown of clothing spending by gender. If the average woman has more clothing items than the average man, it means women also spend more than men, right? Correct!
How Much Does the Average Man Spend on Clothes?
The average American man spends $212 on clothes each year.
Men aged 45 and 54 spend the most ($377), and those 75 years and older spend only $76.
How Much Does the Average Woman Spend on Clothes?
The average woman spends $389 annually to freshen up her wardrobe. This amounts to $32 per month spent on clothes.
Women aged 35 to 44 spend the most ($698), and the lowest spenders are older, aged 75 years and over ($260).
Average Clothing Cost Per Month: Broken Down by Age
Americans between 25 and 34 years old spend the most on clothing per month ($123). However, this trend begins to taper off as they mature. The average American between 65 and 74 years spends only $68 per month on clothing, and this falls off to only $43 for those 75 and above.
Share of Annual Expenditure Allocated to Clothing
Typical American consumers allocated 2.6% of their yearly budget to shopping for new clothes in 2021. This allocation is 0.3% higher than the previous year (2020). In contrast, housing takes up the largest share of the annual budget, with the last four years averaging about 33%.
While we’ve delved into the average clothing cost per month, it’s equally important to shed light on another pressing issue. How much clothing gets thrown away annually? Let’s explore this aspect to get a fuller understanding of our consumption habits and their repercussions.
How Much Clothing Does the Average American Throw Away?
Americans spent nearly $234 billion on clothing items as of 2021. But as they acquire new t-shirts, pairs of jeans, sneakers, and others, they also dispose of many more items.
The average American throws away over 122 pounds (55 kg) of clothing each year.
According to the latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States produces slightly over 17 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in textiles annually.
A significant portion of unwanted clothes and textiles, about 66.4%, end up in landfills, while only 14.7% are recycled. According to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), discarded clothing and other textiles have become the primary source of municipal solid waste. If you’re looking to part with some clothing pieces without throwing them away, consider selling them for added value.
Table 4: Textiles in Municipal Solid Waste Between 1960 and 2018
How Many Times Do Americans Wear Clothes Before Discarding Them?
It’s important to look at how much we spend on clothing and the numbers behind the average clothing cost per month. It’s also important to know how many times we actually wear them. The more we wear our clothes, the less we spend per use, which is an important element of cost.
On average, Americans wear their clothes seven times before discarding them.
Americans use their clothes the least compared to other parts of the world – the global average is 120 times.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation calls this clothing utilization, which describes the number of times a clothing item is worn before it is discarded. The global average clothing utilization dropped from over 200 in 2000 to 120 in 2015. The number of clothing items sold in this period doubled, from 50 billion units to over 100 billion units.