New research out today reveals that 55 per cent of the clothes in an average woman’s wardrobe and 47 per cent of clothes in a man’s wardrobe are never worn, but one in ten (11 per cent) refuse to throw out or give away redundant clothes.

Added up across the country, women spend more than £5.4billion on more than 365 million items of clothing they will never wear. Men are no better, spending more than £5.1billion on more than 223 million unworn clothes. Combined and placed on one clothing rail, unworn items of clothing would stretch to over 18,000 miles – the equivalent of London to New York five times.

The research of over 2,000 men and women was commissioned by Weight Watchers to mark the release of YES, a new film by BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Gary Tarn, which follows four Weight Watchers members who collectively lost more than 27 stone (384lbs) by adopting healthier food habits, being more active, attending weekly meetings and using Weight Watchers suite of digital tools. The film documents the moment they achieved their target weight – including Anabel Bonner, 29, who lost seven stone in order to fit into her dream wedding dress.

A third of people (30 per cent) of people say ‘no longer fitting’ is the primary reason for so many clothes hanging dormant in wardrobes across the country, with a quarter of people (25 per cent) hanging on to the belief that they will one day lose enough weight to fit into their old clothes. Other reasons for holding onto unworn clothes are guilt because of money spent (20 per cent) and the belief that they will come back into fashion (8 per cent).

Despite taking up 55 per cent and 47 per cent of their wardrobe space (women and men respectively), 10 per cent of women, and 21 per cent of men, say they have never spring cleaned their wardrobe.


The top ten items of clothing women say they leave unworn in the wardrobe are:


  1. Evening dresses
  2. Skinny jeans and jeans
  3. Tops
  4. Jackets
  5. Skirts
  6. Work blouses
  7. Shoes
  8. Coats
  9. Jumpers
  10. Swimwear

The top ten items of clothing men say they leave unworn in the wardrobe are:


  1. T shirts
  2. Jeans
  3. Jackets
  4. Jumpers
  5. Work shirts
  6. Evening shirts
  7. Shoes
  8. Trainers
  9. Swimwear
  10. Tracksuit bottoms

Julia Westgarth, Programme Development Manager at Weight Watchers comments: “This research reveals we are a nation of clothes hoarders, collecting outfits in our wardrobes in the hope that one day we will be able to fit back into them or that they will come back into fashion. Fashion fads are out of our control, but a little weight loss could unlock a whole back catalogue of clothes. The stars of the YES film show that combining a motivation, support and practical advice can translate into a lot of weight loss, so hopefully it will inspire others and help in their own weight loss journeys.”

Gary Tarn, filmmaker, comments: “Each person I filmed has been able to reach their goal weight, and in some cases completely transform their appearance. But what I was more interested in showing was how success is often measured in ways we might not expect – for example, fitting into that dream wedding dress, or being happy to look at oneself in the mirror – rather than simply by the numbers on a scale, and so the film focuses on those moments. It’s a different way of looking at how people have managed their weight, both intimate and honest, and I hope these stories will resonate and inspire others.”

Julia continues: “Weight Watchers holistic approach to weight management encourages men and women to focus on their lifestyle as a whole, not just the number on the scales – and our unique SmartPoints and No Count plans teach members how to have a positive relationship between food, mind and body for good. And it’s working. With a 24 hour, 360º support network of meetings and online tools, research shows you could lose up to seven times more weight with Weight Watchers than on your own.”


The top ten cities or towns that are the biggest wardrobe wasters are:


  1. Glasgow, 55 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £211 per person
  2. Norwich, 53 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £212 per person
  3. Birmingham, 53 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £217 per person
  4. Nottingham, 53 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £214 per person
  5. Sheffield, 52 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £226 per person
  6. Edinburgh, 51 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £239 per person
  7. Newcastle, 51 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £193 per person
  8. Cardiff, 51 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £208 per person
  9. London, 51 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £216 per person
  10. Leeds, 50 per cent of clothing unworn, worth £226 per person

YES stars:


Anabel Bonner, 29, Brough, Yorkshire

Anabel comfort ate in her youth after her parents divorce, but decided to lose weight when she got engaged, as she wanted to fit into her perfect wedding dress. Starting her journey as a size 22, Anabel joined Weight Watchers and lost seven stone through relearning how to cook and eating healthily. She knew she had hit her target when she was able to walk down the aisle in a size 14 dress.

Anabel’s top weight loss tip: “Set smaller goals along your journey and treat yourself – whether it is a new pair of shoes, a handbag or a smaller size of clothing.”


Caroline Kulemeka, 36, Birmingham

The weight piled on for Caroline when she started working and had no time for cooking. When she reached a size 18 her health became an issue so she joined Weight Watchers and her Coach helped with her eating plans and encouraged her to take up exercise. As she began to lose weight, she decided to take up running. She now finds it easier to control her eating and runs most days. She knew she had achieved her target when she was able to run non-stop for 30 minutes. Caroline has lost eight stone.

Caroline’s top weight loss tip: “Do not be too hard on yourself. Every movement and effort, no matter how small, makes a difference – even if it is just drinking more water than usual in a week. Your body recognises this and gives you back tenfold.”


Nigel Johnson, 31, Oxford

Nigel decided to join Weight Watchers after a holiday at Disney World in Florida where he could not fit into the seat of his favourite ride. He uses the Weight Watchers app to track his meals and activity and has lost over ten stone. Nigel knew he had achieved his target when he was able to look at himself in the mirror again.

Nigel’s top weight loss tip: “If you do not see results on the scales, it is OK. You should never feel let down, because a non-scale victory is as rewarding as a scale victory.”


Dee Edgar, 61, Thames Ditton, Surrey

Dee joined Weight Watchers after she turned 50 and used her weekly meetings as ‘me time’ during a stressful period of her life. She had always been interested in acting and modelling after starring in shows as a young woman. Dee lost over two stone after her mother suggested she needed to. She knew she had achieved her target when she felt confident enough to step in front of the camera again.

Dee’s top weight loss tip: “Use the support of others as strength. Although I am a more solitary person who likes to quietly get on with little fanfare or fuss, I found the camaraderie, support and friendship of my meeting group invaluable, inspirational, and confidence boosting.”

For more Weight Watchers stories and tips go to Weight Watchers Success Stories. Twelve members who collectively lost close to 92 stone will be appearing in the March issue of Weight Watchers Magazine on sale February 1st at all Weight Watchers meetings, the online shop and all major retailers. To watch the YES film online go to Weight Watchers YES film.

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