The Average UK Woman and What She Spends to Look Good


According to some recent research (though I doubt it would pass any sort of peer review) published in The Daily Mail (UK) DAVID THOMAS combed through a mountain of government statistics, academic research, media surveys and pollsters’ reports to uncover the truth about the way UK women are… here is a short extract:

MRS AVERAGE GETS DOLLED UPMrs Average naturally wants to look her best.That is why she buys an average 34 items of clothing every year, spending £3,000 on her purchases.These are piled into a wardrobe where an average six items have never been worn.

She believes the sexiest item in her wardrobe is her favourite little black dress, followed by her killer heels and her snug-fitting jeans.

She staggers round the shops carrying a handbag that weighs 5lb (roughly 2.5kg), a weight that has gone up by 38 per cent in the past five years, thanks to the trend for oversized bags.

Her biggest sartorial weakness, however, is for shoes. An amazing 86 per cent of women claim to buy at least one pair of shoes a month.No wonder then that Mrs Average will spend £31,000 during the course of her life – more than two years’ worth of her average post-tax income – on shoes, belts and other accessories.

Lingerie is a growing obsession with Mrs Average, who will spend £2,700 in her life on bras alone.She has 16 bras in her undies drawer, half of them white, and at least 13 of them chosen purely for their looks rather than comfort or support.

She buys another four bras every year. She wears a typical bra around seven times in an eight-week period before getting round to washing it.

If ten Average females go out for the night hoping to attract a man, four of them will rely on a push-up bra and another four will have magic slimming pants.They may, of course, be the same four girls.

With the clothes comes her beauty routine. During the course of her life, Mrs Average spends two whole years just looking in the mirror.

She will spend 603 days applying make-up and 170 days taking it off. Luckily, women can multitask, so these are probably the same days she spends in front of the mirror.
And her biggest expense of all is her hair, on which she spends a mind-blowing £36,903.75.

Read the rest of the article and find out what Mr Average spends his money on.

Do you think that these statistics reflect you at all?


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • I'd like to see the comparable figures for men. I'm betting they would be lower, both in cost and time.

    Then I'd like to ask why women feel like they need so much time, effort and artifice to look "good", and men apparently feel they can look good with less effort.

    And I don't have a handbag, I have a laptop bag, which weighs even more. But I did spend a good ten minutes blow-drying my hair this morning. All for a day of sitting in front of the computer. Plus a full face of makeup.

    Also, the UK Daily Mail makes up studies, commissions dodgy studies, and and misrepresents legitimate studies. Check out Ben Goldacre's "Bad Science" site. He has a whole section on the Daily Mail. Seriously, the Daily Mail is not worth your time.

    And I do love your work, and your advice.

  • Anonymous – I doubt that the statistics included in this 'study' are even slightly replicable and would fall down if a legitimate study was done – but I put it up as something that is more as a topic for thought provocation rather than anything else!

  • Sorry Imogen, I wasn't laying the snark on you, and I noticed your comment about peer review 😉

    It just bugs me, this article is obviously published by the Mail to raise a smirk about the shallowness and vanity of women, who are obviously wasting all this time and money on girly nonsense. It has no examination about *why* women spend so much time and effort, on grooming and why such a large proportion of it appears to be futile (re. unworn clothing), or why there is (probably) a gender difference. It's just a cheap laugh at womens' expense.

    You, Imogen, are in a position to do something about that wasted effort, by educating women about how to cut through the advertising and fashion nonsense and to more efficiently direct their time and money. Which is why we love you.

    And I'll also express surprise at the high proportion of white bras in the "results". White bras go grey and nasty in the wash, and are more likely to show up under light-coloured clothes than skin-coloured bras. Why bother? (unless they are lacy and make you feel sexy, in which case fine, but there still seemed to be rather a lot…)

  • Heh, I stand corrected. I went and found the original story on the Daily Mail website, and it's not just focusing on women. They do a whole "Mr and Mrs Average" thing. Fair enough (but I still hate The Daily Mail).

    But anyway, the gender differences in what we spend our money and time on are still interesting. And kind of depressing in some cases.

    And I have to say, I've spent less money in total, and been much happier with what I have bought, since taking Imogen's advice. 🙂

  • Anonymous – the other day I read a statistic that said the average wedding cost $50 000 – now nobody I know spends anywhere near that on a wedding – so I guess many so called 'averages' come from either the median or mean – but really what we're after is the mode (I think if I'm right from my vaguely remembered maths lessons all those years ago).

    I'm glad I'm helping you save some money – there is no need to spend all that to look great – it's easily doable on a budget!

  • Oh, and I never read the Daily Mail when I lived in the UK – strictly a broadsheet girl – I think I used to buy The Guardian, Independent and Sunday Times on the weekend for a broadish view!

  • Yep, you want the mode, or most common amount that is spent on a wedding. I doubt that the amounts spent on weddings are normally distributed, and there's likely to be a long, thin tail out towards the "insanely expensive" end of the range.

    It's not that statistics lie, it's just that people report the wrong ones, often.

    Who's procrastinating on doing her study? I am! But at least my hair is fabulous.

  • Anon – I'm pretty sure these stats of this 'study' are also not the mode! I'm sure that they've taken into consideration what Victoria Beckham spends – which is not anywhere near the reality for most women!

  • An interesting post again, thank you ! Not going into details, I´m still surprised that lingerie is washed so seldom. I only have a dozen pair of shoes, so the `one pair a month´rate is surprising too. Unfortunately, I do spend a lot of more per month on myself than mentioned in this article ( there are zero months too ).

  • Hmm. Well, I don't buy at least one pair of shoes per month, but that is definitely my sartorial weakness. However, that's partly due to comfort. My feet start to complain if I wear the same shoes too often in a row, and I can keep my shoes in good condition too by rotating them.

    I am proud to say that I have NO white bras, and that in the past three years I have grown ultra-picky about the fit, support, comfort, and shape of any bra I spend money on – even the "pretty" ones. (When you are in a size range where $45 is a cheap bra, it's a waste of money to not have stellar shape & support!)

  • Metscan – some people are shoe people and some people are not!

    Kari – I don't understand white bras – they show up too much underneath other clothes!

  • Wow, I think of myself as a very capable shopper 🙂 but I don't spend anywhere near that amount. I suppose I buy 30ish items a year if you include all clothing, shoes, accessories and more if you include face potions and makeup. And the bag weight thing, well that one seems anecdotally corrorboratable (for want of a shorter word).

  • An interesting read, but the source still gives me pause. I see myself in the stats to some extent – ESPECIALLY in terms of shoes being the great weakness – but also wonder if the US equivalent might read a bit differently.

  • Great post but isn't a little sad that Ms. Average feels that she needs to spend so much time and money on her looks.

  • I'm class myself as an "average British woman", with a "sartorial weakness" for shoes, but (maybe with the exception of last year where I lost weight and replaced my whole wardrobe!) I don't spend anywhere near that much on clothes, or anywhere near that amount of time in front of the mirror!

    My handbag is significantly lighter than they suggest – I spent too many years carting around a changing bag, and now embrace smaller handbags!, and my bras are definitely functional items – I'm afraid I can't be doing with frills and lace – give me comfort and a cleavage and I'm happy!!

    Perhaps I'm just not as "average" as I think – does that make me below average?!

  • When I had a big job and no family, I spent way more than this; now I probably spend this much or a bit less. This is the first year in my life (at 61!) that I am actually writing down everything I buy, price and original price. Very illuminating.

    What interests me more now is where I will spend big, and where I won't. So many bags are overpriced for the quality! But will buy good shoes as notice the fake leather just ends up unworn.

    Does anyone buy white bras? I sense an undercurrent of hostility in this 'study'.

  • My guess would be that Ms. Average US spends a tad more (if she's honest and really tallies up every single item) but buys FAR more items than 34. In other words, she probably buys cheaper items and has lots of them.

    I'm sorry to say I spend far more than that amount annually.

  • Gosh, this is really interesting. I am quite sure I spend way more than the time quoted looking in the mirror, lol. I don't buy 30 clothing items, maybe 16-18, but I have an obsession with boots. Oh, hold on, are armwarmers and long gloves "clothing items"? Do you know, I once added up all these hours that Ms. Average spends doing this and that, including sitting on the loo, and her year would have to have been over 400 days. So a lot of multi-tasking must be going on.
    Imogen, I still hate tabs. The Mail is the typical tab. I read the Independent and the Telegraph.
    Great post as usual 🙂

  • I wonder if I saw in black and white how much I spent on looking good, if it would impact my spending? I don't think it would. I don't think I would like the number and/or admit it in public. Yet, I don't think it would stop me.

    And, I have no white bras. Beige, black and print only. Oh, and, I am happy to admit to washing my bras much more than average.;-)

  • I was going to be all "Thirteen bras! Nonsense! I only have…" and then I started thinking about all the bras I don't have in regular rotation but keep for romance/in case my good bras fall apart, and I think thirteen might not be overshooting it. Huh. Although I firmly believe that there is no point to white bras–they should always be your skin tone. I have five bras in regular rotation, three nude, one dark brown, and one ivory. The ivory one is practically useless except under sweaters.

    Oh, by the way, this is kristophine from Science Fiction Fashion & Style–you commented on my blog yesterday and asked if I'd be interested in doing a guest post. Would I ever! If you're still interested, let me know your timeframe.

  • Christina – do you think it would be more or less?

    K.Line – I know for one that often mine weighs more as I carry a mini-laptop!

    Sal – not excactly a scientific study!

    Christine E – thanks so much for coming by and commenting – I look forward to reading your blog.

    Belle – how much time do you think you'd spend? I've never figured it out for me – though I do know my hair takes 3 minutes a day!

    Tat – you are better than average I'm sure!

    Duchesse – have you been surprised since writing down what you spend where your money goes?

  • rb – I wonder how much we'd all lie if doing some sort of survey like this?

    Rosina – yes gloves and armwarmers would still be classed as clothing!

    Belette – I'd probably lie too (especially to my husband!).

    Kristophine – I find this interesting – many women do the same with shoes – think they only have 10 pairs, but when you start counting them up suddenly there are 50 pairs!

  • I know I've only bought two pairs of shoes in the last year, but this makes me think I should keep track of clothes I buy – I don't THINK it would be 30+ items, but I guess it depends if you include each pair of knickers as a separate item … And what about socks or tights? Interesting.

  • So, my first reaction was, "no way do I spend that much or have that many bras" but I bet if I added up the cold hard cash (and cold hard straps!!) I'd be surprised.

    However, on shoes, definitely not, I think I've only bought about 2 pairs this year.

    Great to see these figures (I agree, the Daily Mail are a little bit truth-stretching!), if only to wave at Beloved Husband to show him how restrained I am!

  • One good thing about moving away from Scotland is I'm a very long way away from the Daily Mail. Though I miss the Times and the Glasgow Herald.

  • Interesting article – thanks for posting Imgoen! I only have 5 non-sports bras (3 in regular rotation)….based on this I think I need to go bra shopping!!!

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