How Do People Manage to Spend So Much on Clothing?

I must admit being quite surprised to learn that the average American consumer spends about $185 per month on clothing and accessories. Over the course of a year, this amounts to more than $2,200. Middle-aged adults spend more than their younger counterparts, probably because they have more disposal income. Still, I can’t imagine how it’s possible to spend so much.

I am the kind of guy who prefers shopping at department stores. I will go and buy a couple of pairs of jeans that will be worn until they die – which could be several years. I am also still wearing golf shirts I purchased more than a decade ago.

This could mean that I don’t subject my clothing to the same wear and tear other people do. Or it could mean that I am simply content to wear my clothing for as long as possible. I don’t have a need to keep replacing my clothing to stay up with the latest trends.

I Am the Odd One

Statistical data suggests that I am the odd one out. Not only do I not spend thousands of dollars per year on new clothing, but I am also lucky to spend a few hundred dollars. Apparently, I exist among a rare group of people. While we are content to continue wearing the clothes we own, those around us are striving to turn their wardrobes over.

There is nothing wrong with that, by the way. We live in a free country dominated by free markets. If people want to constantly replace their wardrobes, they have every right to do so. They can spend their money as they see fit. For me though, I have other things I prefer to spend my limited finances on.

I Am Brand Agnostic

I have something else going for me and my comparatively low clothing budget: I am brand agnostic. By this I mean that I see very little difference between brands except for the names and marketing messages they employ. For example, there are not enough differences in multiple brands of jeans to compel me to purchase one over the other.

I get the fact that companies like New York-based Plurawl rely on lifestyle marketing to sell their products. I also realize that consumers respond quite well to lifestyle messages. Latinos and Latinas who are proud of their culture and amenable to the authenticity message probably find Plurawl rather attractive. That’s great.

As for me, I am just as happy wearing generic clothing not tied to any brand in particular. I appreciate a good graphic t-shirt with a clever message as much as the next guy. Yet my shorts do not have to be from Tommy Bahama and my sneakers do not have to be Sketchers.

Money Is Just a Tool

I guess what I’m trying to say is that money is just a tool to acquire things. It has no power or status in and of itself. Therefore, I don’t see a need to invest a lot of money in clothing. As long as I buy clothes that keep me adequately covered and protected against the elements, I’m good. But I have to stay within my budget.

Perhaps that’s the thing that truly puzzles me. I have made a point to live on a budget my entire adult life. Budgeting forces me to be disciplined about every penny I spend. Could it be that others don’t live the same way? Could it mean they are freer to spend more money on clothing because they aren’t trying to watch their pennies? I don’t know. It is a mystery to me.

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