Student cuts back to three pairs of underpants to save money

A student has cut down to 50 items of clothing (including just three pairs of underpants and two bras) in order to save £1,600 a year, and protest against the fashion industry.

Pam Greet is taking a year-long protest against "disposable fast fashion" by choosing just 50 items of clothes to wear over the year and sticking by them. She won't buy any clothes over the year, and expects to save $3000 (£1,600) because of it.

By the time the year is over, she will have worn each pair of underwear 122 times each if she sticks to a strict rotation system, and could even wear one pair more than that if she chooses a favourite.

Social experiment

Full-time student, Pam, used to have a wardrobe that was bursting with clothes, so cutting her clothes down to just 50 items wasn't an easy task. But now that she's done that, she doesn't plan on buying another item of clothing for the entire year, despite only owning three pairs of pants.

She says that her 50 items of clothing is enough for the year. She is documenting her "social experiment" on her blog, Fifty Things 2016, saying she hopes to show you don't need to buy new clothes as often as you do:

"I hope to show that living small in terms of wardrobe is a positive stylish decision if choices are carefully made about what goes into the wardrobe in the first place."

"I want to encourage others to think about the clothing purchases they make. Too many people have spent on impulse and have walk-in wardrobe bulging with things they don’t even like."

"[I hope] to encourage discussion and thoughtfulness about our clothing choices. Especially ‘Do I need to buy that new thing?’"

Each shoe counts as half an item, according to her system. We're not sure if that's cheating?

Second hand shops

Pam, who is studying Creative Arts in Brisbane, Australia, also uses second hand shops to save money, and as a way of "reducing stuff" on the planet.

"Since I was about thirteen I have loitered in second-hand shops. Whenever I go to new place in Australia or travel to a new country it is a bonus to see what treasures can be found in a charity shop.

This project is a chance to show how fabulous recycled clothing is. It certainly saves money and it may contribute in a small way to reducing the amount of stuff on the planet. I don’t think that can be a bad thing."

The fifty items

The fifty items of clothes Pam chose to wear for the year are:

  • seven socks and tights
  • seven pairs of shoes
  • five shorts and trousers
  • three skirts and dresses
  • three t-shirts
  • six long sleeve tops
  • three jackets
  • three coats
  • three pairs of underwear
  • two bras
  • pyjamas
  • one "active wear" set

That's it. For an entire year. By the time she's finished her year, she will have worn each pair of underpants a satisfyingly round 122 times each (as it's a leap year).

Do I really need that?

Pam hopes to inspire others into questioning "do I really need that to be happy?" and says that too often people try to buy and wear new clothes than is affordable or sustainable:

"I think particularly young women tend to wear something different every time they go out. This isn’t going to work in the long-term."

50 items of clothes = 1 abundance of clothes

By cutting down to 50 items of clothing (and, it bears repeating JUST THREE PAIRS OF PANTS) she believes she will show you can have enough outfits for all occasions without too big a wardrobe.

"Fifty things is really an abundance of things, if we choose those 50 things carefully they can really serve you well and liberate you from the chore of shopping."

"The joy that you get from your life at the end of the day doesn’t really come from what you’re wearing it comes from how you’re feeling inside."

Every day she posts a photo to her Facebook page to show the outfit for that day (underwear not on show, of course). So far, she hasn't had any difficulty and has managed to find an outfit for every occasion she's come across.

By the time it gets to the end of the year, she estimates this practice will save her £1,600, and inspire others to question whether they really need to blow their money on clothes.