Buying Style: How Much Americans Spend to Look Their Best

America is, for now, the uncontested capital of consumer spending. While recently modernizing countries like China are quickly catching up, Americans love to spend on the finer things in life.

(Image: JJ Suspenders)

And among those finer things, there’s one category of special importance: clothing. The right clothes can accent a personality, attract romance, land a job, and generally shape the world’s perception of their wearer. So, it comes as no surprise that Americans spend heavily to look their best: revenues among US-based clothing companies totalled a staggering $335.256 billion in 2018. Chinese companies, for comparison, come in at second place globally with over $100 billion less.  

But which state puts the most effort - and money - into the perfect look? Are New Yorkers more fashionable than Californians? Will Virginians outspend Georgians? We dug through US Census reports to find out, and the results were not at all what we expected.

The important figure here is not total sales volume, which is dependent on the number of people in that state and unhelpful for state-to-state comparison (California came in first, with $20,393,000,000). Instead, we’ll look at sales per capita: in other words, the spending per person. These figures are taken from the most recently available US Economic Census.

As a baseline, California came in at $1,148 per person, while Texas narrowly beat out the Golden State with $1,289.

First, the thriftiest states when it comes to style: Hawaii, with only $547 per person, spent the least on clothing. Other low-spending states included Nevada with $653, New York with $764, and Florida with $947.

The most style-conscious state? According to these figures, that title goes to none other than West Virginia, with a staggering $2,735 per person. Rounding out the top 5:

 Idaho - $2,719

Wyoming - $2,659

Montana - $2,555

South Dakota - $2,495

In Idaho and other high-ranking states, shopping for clothes nearly equaled the average American   entertainment expenditure, which was $3,203 in 2017.

It comes as no surprise that women significantly outspend men when clothes shopping: women’s clothing accounts for about 35% of the total market, not including categories like sports, swimwear, underwear, and hosiery. Men’s apparel, on the other hand, made up just under 26% of apparel revenues in 2018.

But maybe comparing spending habits isn’t the best way to judge style. Plenty of smart and fashion-conscious shoppers can find well-designed and high-quality accessories which may contribute to some of the disparity. JJ Suspenders is one such example of an inexpensive accessory that can add a ton of style and class to an outfit.



US Economic Census, 2012

Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditures Report, 2017

Statista Apparel industry report (



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