The Ladette is dead - long live the Noughty Girl!
A snapshot of the experiences, attitudes and aspirations of young, professional British women today
Report by Anjula Mutanda MA BAC AccC, on behalf of Tia Lusso, June 2002

High street habits

The Noughty Girl has higher purchasing power, and this has made her retail-savvy. Spending in high street stores has increased. Young women are no longer going for designer wear to show they have purchasing power - that 90's trend has become very passe. She's much more likely to go for high street fashion and second hand pieces to express her individuality and confidence in herself.

This point was borne out when interviewing the group on shopping habits.

Clare: "I shop on the high street. I don't spend that much on clothes, so I pick things up cheap."

Beth: "Top Shop, but only really the big one on Oxford Circus as they've got good concessions. Faith for shoes. Camden Market, Portobello Market, charity shops, Selfridges in the sale, the smaller boutique-y shops in Covent Garden".

Fiona: "Warehouse, H&M, Top Shop - anywhere that's cheap but trendy. I'd rather have fashionable clothes that I can wear for one season then bin when they fall to bits than quality stuff. If I'm gonna spend more on clothes, it's always label trainers and jeans, like Diesel.

Liz: "I'm totally high street. Going to the markets is part of my lifestyle too. Second hand shops are great - I need to have my own stamp on stuff, and I'm always after a bargain".

Becky: "I shop on the high street too. Predictably in second hand places. I'll always look around the high street to try and find anything a bit unusual. I avoid really naff stuff that you see everywhere".

These women emphasised the importance of individual style, a pick-and-mix approach to shopping, tuning into what's around but making it their own.

Let's do dinner

The increasing popularity of eating out is reflected in the fact that there were over 2,000 more restaurants and takeaways operating in the UK in 1999 than there were in 1996, and in recent years 'cafe culture' has become a British phenomenon. In this setting the Noughty Girl can catch up with her mates, enjoy a drink, grab a bite, and feel at one with her surroundings.

Evelyn: "We end up eating out a lot as we tend to meet straight from work, and have learned from experience that throwing up on the tube is bad, and eating something while drinking is good! We tend just to eat bar food rather than go to proper restaurants in the week- we save that for weekends".

Clare, who lives with her boyfriend and three others in rented accommodation, adds: "I haven't done proper clubbing for a while, we're much more interested in having seats and being able to chat".

Liz gave a different take on things: "We go out on Saturday night and then everyone stays
over at my flat, so that we can cook a traditional lunch together on Sunday. Occasionally,
we have themed lunches - coming up soon is our paella and cocktails night. Getting us in
the mood for summer".

The social whirl

When it comes to entertainment, the Noughty Girl's interests are eclectic.

Clare: "I prefer going to the cinema on my own, perhaps about once every three weeks. Theatre and art galleries pop up occasionally, theatre as a group, galleries on my own. Although I do go spare if left on my own too long".

Liz: "I enjoy cinema visits in a large group of guys and girls. I prefer independent films and foreign films, because I find them better. We generally go to a bar afterwards for the inevitable discussion about who we fancied in the film!"

Sarah: "Men who come to the Monday Night Club are all quite pink (synonym for 'girlie'). None of them are really into traditionally blokey things. They love to gossip as much as we do - so we kind of meet in the middle, a bar after work say, and we have a good old chin wag".

Interestingly, some of the women questioned created their own social group identity - naming it "The Monday Night Club" in order to bring friends together for a gathering.

The shrinking pound - overspending

When asked whether they spend more than they earn, the overwhelming response from the groups was 'yes'.

Sarah: "I try not spend more than my wages, but I do. A lot of my money goes on rent, my mobile, cigarettes, food and going out. I don't keep a close enough eye on that!"

Liz: "My biggest outgoing is the rent and bills, my mobile, and then eating out. I don't do food shopping every week, so end up going out for Thai or Vietnamese meals."

Clare: "I always spend more than I earn. I go on a winter and summer holiday each year, plus three mini breaks usually to meet friends. I also use my moby a lot."

Fiona: "I definitely spend more than I earn! On going out, meals especially, and clothes. I keep up with the latest books and CDs. I always seem to be paying for some holiday or other. Don't really spend much on hair and make-up, but will occasionally splash out on an expensive lippy to cheer myself up".

Research carried out for mobile phone company Orange showed that, in a busy day, the average 20-something sends 40 emails and 22 text messages (1,000 20-30 year olds across the UK polled over the past three months).

Although the Noughty Girl recognises how much she spends, this doesn't influence her spending behaviour, resulting in some temporary budgeting at most. Aside from rent and bills, most expenditure goes on socialising, and she's not thinking about planning ahead financially at this stage in her life.