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To the Editors of American Demographics:

I've been trying to find statistics regarding the percentage of men who shop for their own clothes. I've heard that women do most of men's shopping. By one estimate, women make 80 percent of men's apparel purchases. Is this true today?

Carrie Williams


Seattle, Wash.

Dear Carrie:

It appears that men are taking more of a vested interest in their wardrobe now than in years past. According to Cambridge, Mass.-based apparel research firm STS Market Research, 69 percent of men's casual sportswear (jeans, slacks, shorts, shirts, sweaters, etc.) is purchased by men these days and only 31 percent is purchased by women. A report released by Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm The NPD Group reveals similar — albeit not identical — findings. According to NPD, men today purchase a majority (53 percent) of men's casual sportswear themselves and women buy the remaining 47 percent.

That's not to say that women are taking a back seat when it comes to dressing their man. According to NPD, 37 percent of women say they accompany their guy when he goes shopping for clothes, regardless of who's buying. The latest data available from New York City-based market research firm Mediamark Research, Inc. (MRI) reveals that 34 percent of all adult women have made at least one purchase from the men's department in the past year. Of course, having a man to shop for significantly increases a gal's chance of buying an item of men's apparel. In fact, 45 percent of married women and 36 percent of women who are engaged say they bought men's clothes last year, compared with just 25 percent of single women.

Which items are the ladies most likely to pick up for their guy? According to MRI, underwear and socks top the list of men's apparel items that women buy. At least 1 in 6 women (17 percent) claims to have bought men's underwear in the past year, and 16 percent say they have bought men's socks. Other commonly purchased items include jeans (15 percent), dress shirts (11 percent), casual slacks (11 percent) and belts (7 percent).

Of course, many men are capable of returning the favor. MRI reports that 16 percent of men have purchased some sort of women's apparel in the past year. As with the ladies, married and engaged men are the most likely to pick up a little something for the missus: 20 percent of engaged men and 19 percent of married men say they have bought an item of women's clothing in the past year.

Give those Victoria's Secret models a raise: Bras and underpants are among the most common women's apparel items purchased by men — 6 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Of course, buying a woman a fancy dress is also a nice gesture. In the past year, 6 percent of men say they have bought a woman's dress. However, the exact percentage of those dresses that were subsequently returned to the store is a mystery.


To the Editors of American Demographics:

Recently, a few single girlfriends and I had a conversation about the demo-graphics of New York City. We were guessing how many men versus women there were in New York, single versus married, homosexuals versus heterosexuals. To me, it appears there are twice as many women in this city than men. But rather than guessing, I thought I'd take this to a higher authority: American Demographics . How does New York City's population break down? When it comes to gender and unattached singles, is there a level playing field?

Kate Moses

Hoboken, N.J.

Dear Kate:

Don't put away your dance card just yet, because it turns out that there are plenty of single men in New York City to go around.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 1.5 million unmarried (single, widowed, divorced or separated) men in New York City and 2 million unmarried women. Granted, there are more women than men (1.4 single females for every single male), but it's a far cry from your estimated 2-to-1.

A person's age (and/or the ages of the men and women to whom he or she is typically attracted) may improve the odds of landing a mate — or make them worse. In the 20-to-34 age range, only 32 percent of the men and 36 percent of the women in New York City are married. That means there are about 728,000 males and 724,000 females who are single. The odds are much less favorable for singles looking to partner with someone between 35 and 54 years of age: Fully 64 percent of the men and 56 percent of the women in this age group are married.

But don't despair! There are still 465,000 New York men and 612,000 New York women between the ages of 35 and 54 who are not legally wed. In the 55 and over cohort, it behooves you to be a single male: There are almost three single women to every single man in this age group. New York City is home to an estimated 679,000 unmarried women ages 55 and older and only 264,000 unmarried men.

Of course, we all know that just because a man or a woman isn't wearing a wedding band doesn't mean he or she is not spoken for. The Census Bureau reports that there are 134,818 heterosexual couples in New York City who are living together but not legally married. And there are 18,131 male gay couples living together and 12,730 cohabiting lesbians.

Speaking of gays and lesbians, you should know by now that New York has a much higher concentration of homosexuals than most places in the country. According to Census 2000, gay and lesbian couples account for 0.9 percent of all households in Gotham. That's about a third more than the nation as a whole: The bureau reports gay and lesbian couples constitute just 0.6 percent of all U.S. households.

Although there are no hard facts as to what the total gay population is in New York, straight singles on the prowl would increase their odds of finding a mate by avoiding neighborhoods like Chelsea (the 10011 and 10001 ZIP codes in particular), the West Village (10014), the Theater District (10036) and Greenwich Village (10003) in Manhattan and the Park Slope-Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn (11217). According to, these neighborhoods are where the largest numbers of gay and lesbian couples have set up home.

All this information about the singles scene in New York may not necessarily increase your chances of finding a guy, but at the very least you'll have something to talk about over lunch.


Men make up 13 percent of buyers of women's evening dresses, while women make up 33 percent of buyers of men's casual slacks.

Parka 19% 81%
Fur coat, jacket or stole 18% 82%
Raincoat 17% 83%
Designer jeans 16% 84%
Nightwear 15% 85%
Blouse 14% 86%
Evening dress 13% 87%
Blazer 12% 88%
Skirt 12% 88%
Gloves 10% 90%
Sweater 61% 39%
Swimsuit 64% 36%
Designer jeans 65% 35%
Casual slacks 67% 33%
Necktie 68% 32%
Ski jacket 69% 31%
Sports jacket 71% 29%
Belt 72% 28%
Overcoat 75% 25%
Business suit 76% 24%
Source: Mediamark Research, Inc., 2002


New York City is the place to be if it's a young, never-married, single man you want or a young, never-married single woman.

18-34 211 202 202 190
35-49 66 74 66 63
50-64 38 28 18 36
65+ 28 25 11 17
18-34 54 66 70 62
35-49 121 110 115 119
50-64 122 123 122 126
65+ 119 122 166 128
18-34 224 217 208 207
35-49 71 76 74 67
50-64 43 37 23 47
65+ 34 25 18 12
18-34 72 76 87 78
35-49 121 125 110 122
50-64 116 116 116 108
65+ 87 79 86 92
*The metro area average is 100. For example, in New York City, a man between 18 and 34 years old is 111 percent more likely than the average New York City male to be single and 46 percent less likely to have a wife.
Note: Separated, divorced and widowed are not shown. Source: Scarborough Research, 2002


The Big Apple is home to almost 1.5 million single men.

TOTAL MEN, AGE 20+ 3,136,868
TOTAL WOMEN, AGE 20+ 3,659,042
SINGLE* MEN, 20+ 1,455,849
20-34 727,554
35-54 464,572
55+ 263,723
SINGLE* WOMEN, 20+ 2,014,912
20-34 723,826
35-54 611,880
55+ 679,206
MARRIED MEN, 20+ 1,681,019
20-34 336,624
35-54 814,964
55+ 529,431
MARRIED WOMEN, 20+ 1,644,130
20-34 406,994
35-54 791,575
55+ 445,561
*Includes: never-married, separated, divorced and widowed.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau


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