Susannah Shops: A weight off my mind

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The Independent Online

British women buy half their bodyweight in clothes each year, according to a recent survey. “What, only half?” I hear you all cry. But seriously, that’s not the worst of it. We also throw away the same amount on an annual basis, apparently boasting an average of more than 20 garments in our wardrobe that we’ve never even worn.

Surveys come and surveys go – this one arouses at least a degree of suspicion if only because half the average woman’s bodyweight is judged to be 62lbs which, given that she’s also supposedly a size 14, seems unlikely. Still, environmental journalist Lucy Siegle, the woman behind the research in question, should be applauded for identifying that the rise of fast fashion decrees we buy four times the clothes we did in 1980, wear them far less than we used to and then bin them unceremoniously with little thought to the effect that may have on the air we breathe or indeed the implications behind their reasonable price point, to use polite fashion parlance, in the first place. Cheap clothes – cheap anything – come at a price.

Anyway, after several hours attempting to weigh my purchases over the past 12 months … That’s a lie, obviously. I’d hazard a bet, though, that they don’t amount to half my size. That’s not because I’m enormous, thank you, but I’m admittedly not big on shoes – I favour simple, flat ones – or indeed bags laden with hardware – my bags are invariably big and full, so adding heavy metal branding/padlocks/chain is not an option. Come to think of it, most of my clothes are on the light side also.

Most significantly, though, and perhaps contrary to popular mythology, I don’t buy very much. I’ve never shopped on the high street so what does make it into my (modestly sized) wardrobe is, by today’s standards perhaps, unreasonably priced. But then much of it has been there for more than a decade and I still love it. The maths is simple: buy one garment that costs £200 or ten that cost £20. I know which I prefer.