Men spend almost double on their appearance as women

We surveyed over 2,000 people on their spending and found some unexpected habits

Article updated: 29 January 2020 9:00am Author: Lucinda Gregory


What do Brits spend their disposable income on? How much do we waste on clothes we’ll never wear? And what would you do with an extra £100? We often think about the short-term, seeing money in monthly chunks based on when we get paid, but the way we spend our money now can have a dramatic impact on our future.

Skin Deep

Some men seem more concerned about their appearance than women, spending almost twice as much money on their looks each month, according to our research. On average these men spend almost £70 a month (more than £800 a year) taking care of their appearance, whether that’s gym memberships, health and beauty products/treatments and fashion, whereas women spend just over £40 a month (just over £500 a year) on these items.

Meanwhile, of the generations spending money on their appearance it’s millennials (24 to 38 year olds) who spend the most each month:


Fashion conscious Brits

Although people have become more conscious about fast fashion, it seems as a nation we’re still buying clothes every month to keep up with the latest trends.

Almost one in three people (30%) buy at least one fashion item a month and a similar number (29%) admit to buying two or three pieces of clothing. Gen Zs buy the most, purchasing an average of just under three items every month, or 32 each year.

On average people spend just under £50 a month trying to keep up with the latest fashion trends, with Millennials and men spending the most, forking out £68 and £51 respectively. On average, each Brit spends £567 a year on fashion, which equates to £29.7 billion across the nation.

Getting your money’s worth

Despite Brits spending a lot of money on clothes each year, many items don’t see the light of day or are only worn once. Men may spend the most on their appearance, but they also potentially waste the most money on fashion, with over a sixth (15%) of their clothes only being worn once or not at all, compared to 11% for women. As an age group, Millennials are the most likely to commit this fashion crime, with 15% of clothes bought being only worn once or not at all. This compares to 13% for Gen Z, 10% for Gen X and 12% for over 55s.

On average, this means Brits are wasting just over £70 a year on clothes that they never even put on or have only worn once. As a nation, this amounts to £2.4 billion each year. Based on their spending on fashion items and the number of items barely ever worn, Millennials’ pockets are the worst hit, wasting £111 a year. On average, men waste £92 per year, compared to £54 for women.


Spending v Investing

When asked what they would do if given £100 – buy clothes or invest the money – the majority feel more comfortable spending money rather than investing it, with six in 10 people (57%) saying they would buy clothes.

Older people may not be wiser when it comes to investing, as all generations seem happier sticking with what they know and using the money to buy something tangible instead of investing the money. For instance, only 38% of Gen Zs and 39% of Millennials would choose investing over fashion, with baby boomers only slightly higher, at 41%.

The most common reasons people would choose buying clothes over investing £100 include: being worried about losing the money or not knowing anything about investing (both 35%); believing investing is riskier than buying something they can physically own (24%); and finding investing complicated (23%). However, those who already invest regularly are more likely to say that they would invest a £100 windfall (investors 58% v non-investors 35%).

Four in 10 people (40%) say they would be more inclined to invest in companies they buy from regularly. This rises to over half (52%) for Millennials and just under this (49%) for Gen Zs, suggesting younger generations may be more comfortable investing in companies and brands they know.

In fact, if people took the money they wasted each year on clothes they barely wear (on average £71) and had invested it instead then they would have saved up a healthy pot of money. Over three years, their £213 investment will have grown to almost £250, over five years they would have over £450 and if they kept this habit up over 10 years, their £710 worth of savings would have grown by almost 58% and would now be worth £1,120.

We all want to look and feel good, so it’s no big surprise that people spend a large proportion of their disposable income each month on clothes and beauty. However, our research shows that often us Brits aren’t getting our money’s worth when it comes to what we’re buying, and that some items of clothing end up being eaten by moths at the back of our wardrobe.

We know that people aren’t going to stop buying clothes altogether, but they may want to think twice about buying something they are unlikely to wear. Changing monthly spending habits ever so slightly can help people find some extra money to put away or invest, perhaps into shares of their favourite fashion and beauty brands instead. This could help people achieve some of their bigger life goals like buying a house, travelling, starting a family or even saving for retirement.



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Lucinda Gregory portrait photo
Lucinda Gregory

Investment Research & Guidance Manager

Lucinda has significant experience working in the fund management industry having previously worked at J.P. Morgan. She currently manages our team of analysts who are leading the company’s sell-side proposition and are responsible for our range of preferred lists.

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