How Much Clothes Do You Buy?

Last week, I ordered 3 pairs of pants and a shirt from Old Navy — and I felt a bit guilty. I tend to wear the same few pairs of pants and the same shirts over and over, and I didn’t really need any new ones.

Maybe I shouldn’t have felt so bad. I read an article informing me that the average American woman buys “64 new pieces of clothing a year.”

Really? Seriously? Because, I’m not sure I’ve purchased 64 new pieces of clothing in the past decade.

clothes in closet

Granted, I have a few questions about the research: do socks, underwear, belts, etc. count as clothing? Also, I should admit that when I was working outside the home, I bought quite a bit more clothes than I do now. Still, when someone compliments me on a shirt, asking if it’s new, and I say “Yes,” mentally tabulating that it’s probably 5 years old — but that still counts as “new,” right? — I realize that I don’t do a lot of clothes shopping, that’s for sure.

Aside from the bit about not working at an outside job, there’s the whole aging issue. In my 20s and 30s, it was definitely fun to shop for clothes — trying on new things, imagining how to accessorize them. Sometime after I’d had all my kids, I stepped into the dressing room with a pile of clothing and was horrified when I glanced into the mirror. Had styles changed that much — or had I? I had a sneaking suspicion I knew the answer to that one, and it wasn’t pretty.

The article I read also stated that half of the typical American woman’s 64 annual new purchases are worn just once. Again, this is so unbelievable to me. I can’t imagine buying 32 pieces of clothing each year, wearing each one time, and then  — what? Donate them? Although I suppose this does account for some of the like-new clothing pieces I’ve picked up at garage sales. For those, I am grateful to these typical American women 🙂

How about you? How many pieces of clothing would you estimate you buy in the average year? How many do you wear just once?

6 thoughts on “How Much Clothes Do You Buy?

  1. I ordered one top from L. L. Bean and bought two very expensive pair of tennis shoes at the Fitted Foot when they had a sale. I still paid well over $200 for the two pair and I’d bet a year from today I won’t have put one pair on for the first time. Both pair repose in their respective shoe boxes in my attic, for now. I wear clothes for decades! Most of what I wear Jill has handed down to me or bought new for me.
    There was a teacher at the Middle School who never wore the same outfit twice the entire school year. She bought classy things, too.

  2. I think that number (64) is crazy high! I would say my typical number of new clothing pieces per year would definitely have been under 10 (excluding socks and underwear). However, that is part of the reason I signed up for Stitch Fix (I know you have seen my posts on Facebook, Susan, so I won’t go into detail).

    I have now been adding about 2 new pieces to my wardrobe per month with this service (which still puts me well under the 64 average per year!). I have been trying NOT to feel guilty about this. As I get older, I recognize the need to buy better-fitting, more expensive clothing. It is hard to find flattering clothes as we get older…you can’t just thrown on any old thing and look adorable. Also, too trendy looks a big silly on a woman in her 40s or older…like I am trying to hard to recapture my youth.

    I am starting to see the wisdom of buying $99 jeans when before I never would’ve bought any over $40. I am also starting to see that more expensive clothes are better tailored and made with more luxurious fabrics, which look better on a less-than-perfect body.

    Plus, I have held on to WAY too many items of clothing that either USED to fit or that I felt I didn’t wear enough times to get the value out of it….all of which are out of style! Wearing out-of-date clothing is one sure-fire way to make you look older than you are.

    Anyway, highly recommend my beloved Stitch Fix. Comes right to my house, is ‘on trend,’ and pushes me out of my comfort zone!

  3. 64 seems way high. I’m not entirely sure, but I’d guess I might buy 6-9 pieces of clothing a year for myself. I’m not sure what it says about our society that so many people buy so much and only use much of it once. I tend to order most of my clothing online, and sometimes when I get it, it doesn’t look like or fit me like I thought it would. Then I have to wrestle with whether it is worth the return shipping to send it back. Sometimes I’ve either waited to long to do that or forgotten about it and thus have only used an item once – but it is not a regular thing.

  4. If it is true that the average American buys 64 pieces of new clothes per year, we should be ashamed of ourselves! In light of people who hardly have any clothing, what does that say about us? I’m thinking of refugees who arrive in another country with only the clothes on their backs. One might say that we have no way of helping them. That’s not true! We can find ways if we want. God forgive us for being so selfish!

    Okay, I’m now off my soapbox.

  5. i am one of those that has very few clothes,not that i do not need them just can not afford to buy.

  6. Unbelievable! 64 new articles of clothing per year is way overboard, as far as I am concerned. Most of my clothes are either from Goody’s on sale, or purchased from Roaman’s catalog out of Indianapolis. I tend to wear the things that I like best over and over, but certainly I never wear something only once! Can’t tell you how many things that I buy per year, but I’m guessing somewhere between 12 and 15 pieces. I really don’t like to shop in stores very often! At my age catalogs are much easier, and I really do like packages delivered right to my door.

Comments are closed.