We already know that clothes are cheaper–on average–than ever before.
But what you might not realize is that Americans spend a heck of a lot less of their disposable income on clothes than they did 10, 20 or 50 years ago.
According to Dr. Mark J. Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan, Americans spent a whopping $326 billion on clothing and footwear last year. But that was only 2.98% of their overall disposable income. In 1950, on the other hand, Americans spent 11% of their discretionary income on dressing up.
But don’t think that means we have less clothing than before. We definitely have more. It’s just way, way cheaper, so we can own way, way more. Since 1992, the price of clothing has decreased by 8.5%, even when you adjust the numbers for inflation.
So the next time you complain about the price of a $40 top at the Gap, just imagine this: It was probably $40 in 1982, too, but your income would have been significantly less.