£97,000 tag for woman's lifetime wardrobe

Last updated at 08:41 06 January 2005

The news may shock many into hurrying past the sales signs on the high street - new research has found that women spend £96,720 on clothes over the course of a lifetime.

A survey by Churchill Home Insurance found that from the age of 14, women splash out an average of £124 a month on shoes, clothes and accessories.

Despite women estimating their wardrobe at around £1,500, the average woman admits to wearing only half (48 per cent) of the clothes they own.

A further nine in 10 have items in their wardrobe they never wear.

The study also revealed that this level of shopping can lead to a guilty conscience, with 25 per cent claiming to feel so guilty that they had to conceal new purchases from their partners or even lie about the cost.

Around 40 per cent admit that they will shop even when strapped for cash, and almost half of those resort to credit cards or overdrafts to fund their habit.

Two in five women also say that they often buy items they cannot afford.

The majority of women go shopping for clothes once a week and one in seven (15 per cent) go fortnightly.

The average woman claims to frequently spend around £164 on impulse purchases, with tops the number one vice (43 per cent), followed by shoes (22 per cent) and trousers (12 per cent).

Media psychotherapist and life coach Christine Webber said: "Shopping is not the sole preserve of the female, but it is certainly true that they shop more on impulse than men do.

"They also spend in a bid to cheer themselves up or to boost their self-esteem, so it's easy to see why clothes, make-up and shoes are among their top buys. Nowadays, most women earn their own money and in many households they are in fact the major breadwinner.

"And yet they frequently feel guilty about shopping for themselves. This is why they often hide purchases for a while before owning up to having bought them."

Churchill's head of home insurance Martin Scott said: "Clothes are a good example of where we accumulate a considerable amount of monetary value in home contents over the years.

"Homeowners should always try and keep tabs on how much their belongings are worth in order to get the right level of insurance cover."

• A poll of 3,023 women was conducted by the insurance provider.

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