Why is our wardrobe full of unworn clothes: Most purchases are not rational

person holding assorted clothes in wooden hanger

We buy dresses for people we want to be and keep them because they remind of good times. A new survey revealed that UK shoppers have PS10bn worth clothes they don’t wear.

Sorry to make you think of all the battles that lie ahead, but here they are: Weight Watchers’ new survey has found that the UK’s shoppers have PS10bn worth unused clothes.

It doesn’t look so bad when you break it up a little, as it always does with such massive numbers. There are approximately 50 million UK shoppers, so that’s an average of PS200 per person who isn’t able to fulfill their sartorial destiny.

person holding assorted clothes in wooden hanger

That’s still PS200 that could be better spent elsewhere, and countless hours worth of someone’s labor – all for the fact that we are who we are and they’re who they are. Happy new year! It is important to find out how this unworn hoard came about and what we can do.

According to the survey 25% of respondents claimed that the clothes had not been worn because their owners were waiting for them to lose weight. This is a remarkable low number, especially when we consider the possibility that some of the 2,000 Weight Watchers polled might have had a slight selection bias. This would account for 98% of men and 100% of women I know.

A survey found that 10% of respondents were eagerly awaiting the return of fashion. These people are given a pass on the environmental implications of clothes that have not been worn and a lot of credit for having enough storage space.

The problem is most people’s inability to rationally make purchases. I own dresses that I don’t wear because they were bought for me, while others I wear because they are for me. Items I keep are memories of great times with wonderful people. I have shoes I bought because they were beautiful and count as objets d’art more than items of apparel, and shoes that have gone unworn because after a first proper, returns-policy-invalidating use they have turned out to be – well, unwearable. Tops are items I bought because I didn’t have any other options during a day with a friend. So on.

This, as with all irrational actions, should be stopped. We should only be mindful of our purchases in the year ahead. Our wardrobes should be empty – into charity shops, friends’ and relatives’ eager hands, or onto eBay as conscience and resale values dictate – of any outfits that are not worn regularly. This includes things that you treasure and that help you recall the good times and people you loved.

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