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The average American woman has never worn at least 20% of the clothes she owns, with these unworn items having a total average financial value of more than $500, a new study has found.

The study was conducted by vouchercloud as part of a report looking into the shopping habits of American women. 2,137 women aged 18 and over, all US citizens, took part in the poll and answered questions about their clothing.

All the women taking part were asked to estimate what percentage of their entire clothing collection (including footwear) remained unworn; meaning that they owned the items but had never worn them. The poll revealed the average answer to be ‘20%’, meaning that for the average woman in America, a fifth of her closet remains unworn.

Next, the women were asked to estimate the total value of the items in their closet that remained unworn, which revealed the average answer to be ‘$550’.

The most likely items to be abandoned before even being worn were shoes, with 71% of the women with unworn items agreeing, followed by dresses (51%) and coats (38%). Unworn shoes cost the average woman more than any other item, averaging $120 per pair, followed by dresses at $90 and coats at $70.

Asked why these items in their closets remained unworn and told they could select more than one answer if needed, the top five reasons selected by the respondents were:

  1. Favour alternative items instead (75%)
  2. Negative reaction to item from partner or friends (51%)
  3. The item was uncomfortable (42%)
  4. The item went out of style (34%)
  5. Forgot I bought the item (28%)

The respondents were then asked why they had failed to return unworn items to the store if they never intended to wear them. 18% of women said they were keeping hold of items in case they changed their minds about wearing them, whilst 39% said they just ‘couldn't be bothered’ to take the clothing back.

Jessica Glaus of vouchercloud commented on the results:

“While it's completely normal to buy the odd dress or pair or shoes and regret it later on, these results show that we may have more clothes going to waste in the closet than we care to admit. While it's fun to make the odd frivolous or spontaneous purchase, it's important to make sure you will wear what you buy, especially if it's a high value item. If you really love a certain dress or pair of shoes, you can always find a reason to dig it out of the closet!”

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