Patterns of Consumption: Clothing

  • W. Hamish Fraser


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

  1. 1.
    Asa Briggs, Friends of the People (1956) p. 128.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Elias Moses and Son, The Growth of an Important Branch of British Industry (1860),Google Scholar
  3. quoted in P. G. Hall, The Industries of London (1962) p. 53.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Flora Thompson, Lark Rise to Candleford (1945) p. 92.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    B. S. Rowntree and M. Kendall, How the Labourer Lives: A Study of the Rural Labour Problem (1953) p. 40.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    S. Reynolds, A Poor Man’s House (1908) pp. 66–7.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    H. Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (1861–2, reprinted 1967) vol. I, passim.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    R. Roberts, The Classic Slum (1973) p. 38.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Lady Florence Bell, At the Works (1911) p. 113.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Mrs C. S. Peel, How to Keep House (1902) pp. 25–6, Marriage on Small Means (1914) pp. 21–2.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    A. Adburgham, Shops and Shopping (1964) p. 93.Google Scholar
  12. 19.
    M. Loane, The Queen’s Poor (1910) pp. 120–1.Google Scholar
  13. 20.
    N. McCord, ‘Ratepayers and Social Policy’ in Pat Thane (ed.). The Origins of Social Policy in Britain (1978).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© W. Hamish Fraser 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Hamish Fraser

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