April 29, 2002
Shoes and Virginia Postrel

Virginia Postrel is looking for facts and figures for a book (4/26, no permalink):

Does anyone know where I can get some sort of reliable count of the number of clothes in a typical American's wardrobe? (Don't suggest the Census unless you've found a specific source. As far as I can tell, they don't ask about clothes. I also struck out with ACNielsen.)

One possible source would be the moving and storage industry. Their figures might even be more reliable than those of the clothing industry, since they would have no incentive to exaggerate. I paid my way through college (early 70's) working for Mayflower as a mover, packer, and driver. I could have gathered such information then, if I'd know it would ever have come in handy, though it would have distracted me from my work and slightly lowered my productivity. Any blogreaders out there working as packers? With advancing computerization, it's possible that moving companies now have precise, detailed figures on how many wardrobe cartons, 1.5, 3.0, and 6.0 cubic foot cartons, and so on are needed to pack the average family. Of course, except for some cross-town moves, owners always pack some of their clothes to take along themselves, which would tend to skew the figures. Still, I wonder if the moving industry has ever commissioned a study of clothing ownership rates. It would be useful for them to know.

Tangential anecdote: I once moved a household in which the husband was a lieutenant commander in the Navy and the wife had over 200 pairs of shoes by actual count. (I no longer recall the precise number, but it was in the 210-220 range.) We thought we'd never finish packing that walk-in closet. She had a lot of sweaters, too. After that, I thought people were a little hard on Imelda Marcos for owning 800 pairs of shoes. After all, she was married to the dictator of a medium-sized country, and 800 for Mrs. Marcos seems less out of line than 200 for an otherwise ordinary navy wife.

And you thought I was going to discuss 'sensible shoes' libertarians . . . .

Posted by Dr. Weevil at April 29, 2002 11:30 PM