It costs money to look good. We’ve all been missing out on some of our personal grooming habits during the pandemic, but with restrictions easing off we’re starting to see the return of things like beauty salons, nail bars and tattoo parlours. It got us thinking: how much are we spending on our appearances these days, and just as importantly, who’s spending the most? It turns out there are a few surprises in the statistics.

The first unexpected discovery in a survey of over 2,000 Brits by stockbroker firm The Share Centre is that men are dipping deeper into their pockets than women when it comes to fashion and appearance. About twice as deep, in fact. If you lump fitness spending in, for instance, a typical UK man splashes out over £800 a year on his looks. That’s close to £70 a month on everything from gym memberships and beauty treatments to skin creams and fashion statements. By comparison, women are managing to maintain their appearances on just £40 a month, or around £500 a year.

Clothing’s obviously a big part of most people’s “glamour spending” budgets. About two thirds of us are updating our wardrobes at least a little bit each month. Half of those are buying more than one fashion item out of each month’s pay. Clothing trends move fast these days, and the UK seems keen to keep on the cutting edge of style. A typical monthly clothing spend runs to around £50 - but again, it’s men who are pretty consistently on the upper end of that average.

There’s the age factor to think about as well, of course. As you’d probably expect, it tends to be the younger crowd that’s most keen to throw regular money at boosting their appearances. People in the 24-38 age bracket are generally the biggest overall vanity spenders. That said, if you narrow it down even further to cash blown on clothes fashion, filtering out all the fitness and beauty stuff, the numbers change a bit. Through that microscope, it’s the members of “Generation Z” who empty their wallets the fastest – although they tend to have less in there than older people to begin with. Gen-Z fashion shoppers buy an average of 32 items of clothing a year - although their Millennial parents are actually spending more on buying less, at about £68 a month. Overall, across the whole country, we’re looking at an average spend of £567 per person per year.

So, are we getting our money’s worth out of all that? It’s actually pretty hard to tell. When it comes to spending money on looking good, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. What we can say for sure is that a lot of the clothes we’re buying either never get worn at all or are only used once. As before, it’s men (particularly Millennial men) who are the worst culprits here, with 1 in 6 admitting to buying things they only wear once at most. Their Generation-X parents are a little wiser, with only 1 in 10 buying clothes that never see serious use.

What it all boils down to is a UK average of £70 wasted every year by fashion-conscious Brits. Millennials are way ahead of the pack at £111 spent on clothes they never wear, dragging that average up a fair bit. Men are wasting £92 each year, with women playing a much smarter fashion game at £54 wasted. All told, that’s an astonishing £2.4 billion blown on unneeded junk clothing each year.

Given that fashion and beauty treatments tend to feature pretty highly on the list of things RIFT customers spend their yearly tax refunds on, we’re obviously interested. That said, we’re not your mum, and we’re not going to judge you for wanting to look your best. Whatever you decide to do with your refund, just make sure you’re getting the very most from your claim. That means keeping good records, sticking to HMRC’s rules and – most importantly – getting in touch with RIFT to take the stress, risk and hassle out of tax refunds. While you’re at it, remember that specialised work clothing can count toward your refund claim. The rules about this can be fiddly, so talk to RIFT to make sure you’re getting what you’re owed

Use our free tax rebate calculator for an instant estimate of how much tax you could claim back from HMRC.