A piece in New York Magazine this week finds that residents of the District are spending almost twice the national average on wearable items — more than New York, more than Los Angeles and more than Chicago, too.
The only area that even comes close to matching Washingtonians’ whopping $263 a month shopping budget, it turns out, is Arlington, where the monthly shopping tab is somewhere in the neighborhood of $254.58, putting it in the No. 2 spot. The national average is $142.08.
The data came from Bundle.com, which used its figures — derived from the U.S. government, Citi and third-party sources — to anoint the District as the nation’s “most shopaholic city.”
Naturally, the D.C. stereotypes reared their ugly head. The writer at NY Mag noted: “This seems a bit ironic, given D.C.’s reputation for homogenous (and what some might call bland) officewear, but hey — maybe it’s very nice officewear.” [Editor’s note: We suggest you hop the Bolt Bus anytime and check out our actually very stylish city.]
So what gives? Are Washingtonians hiding a little spending problem?
The Buzz parsed the meaning of the news this week, proposing that Washingtonians have been growing increasingly more stylish, and asking readers whether that was true. (Submit your own stylish self-portraits here).
While this reporter surmises that her penchant for shoes was a force powerful enough to skew the results, there may be other, more valid explanations. New York Magazine suggests that the relatively small D.C. population has fewer poorer residents than larger metropolises, throwing off the findings. The Post recently reported that Census Bureau statistics do, in fact, show the Washington region has the lowest poverty rate of any metropolitan area (though the number is rising).
Another likely culprit: We are a button-down town by day. Suits simply cost more than the average New York graphic designer’s Uniqlo button-down and skinny jeans. Take the wool numbers at J.Press, for example; they ring up at upwards of $1,000 apiece. Even if we were shopping at Nordstrom, an average Monday morning outfit could cost $400, at a minimum. This could also explain the wanton spending in Arlington, where many downtown office workers live.
And with Washington businesses still hiring recent graduates and young people in the downturn, we have a substantial new population of 20- and 30-somethings not only buying suits, but entire work wardrobes.
Or we’re just really into clothes.
What do you think, readers? Are Washingtonians fashion fanatics, or is something else at play here?