Clothing came after food and shelter in the order of priorities for expenditure. It is difficult to give any kind of ‘norm’ for expenditure on clothing over time. Professor Asa Briggs has estimated that in 1845 a working man spent 6 per cent of his income on clothes, by 1890 8 or 9 per cent, and by 1904 12 per cent.1 This, however, seems something of an over-estimate when compared with the calculations made by Miss W. A. Mackenzie for representative families. Her lowest decile family of man, wife and three children, earning 13s in 1860, 17s in 1880 and 20s 6d in 1914, spent 9d, 1s and 1s per week respectively on clothing. Her median family, earning 20s 6d in 1860, 22s 6d in 1880 and 35s 6d in 1914, spent 1s 6d, 2s and 2s 6d respectively: and her upper quartile family, earning 27s 6d, in 1860, 32s in 1880 and 45s 3d in 1914, spent 2s, 2s 6d and 3s respectively on clothing. In no case was this more than 8 per cent.
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Notes and References
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