EPISODE 63: What exactly would an 85 piece wardrobe look like?




  • Introduction
  • Sufficiency wardrobe
  • 85-piece wardrobe breakdown
  • Conclusion


Belinda Humphrey - Website

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Belinda Humphrey - Email

Unfit Unfair Unfashionable Resizing Fashion for a Fair Consumption Space


Hello and welcome to episode 63 of the Fashion Unearthed Podcast. This is the last episode for 2022. Can you believe it? I cannot, but I wanted to firstly, thank everyone who listened to this podcast, shared something on Instagram, or commented on LinkedIn and to my guests who generously gave their time, knowledge, and experience over the course of the year. And of course, another big thank you goes out to all of my amazing clients. I really enjoyed the businesses I've worked with, and this was an important goal of mine. Of course, all the usual financial business goals were there for this year too, but the feeling you get when you work with businesses who are really invested in being better isn't something that you can quantify on a profit and loss. So thank you to everyone who trusted me to help them with their goals, whether that was research into the latest fabrications, design projects, sustainability workshops, one-on-one sessions, or all of the above. A huge thank you for making my year amazing.

Onto today's episode, I wanted to dig into another report that came out last month titled Unfit Unfair Unfashionable Resizing Fashion for a Fair Consumption Space. And this report was really interesting. Reducing commissions is always an abstract concept. I thought it was really clever of them to make it easier for people to get their heads around. What are they suggesting? Sufficiency wardrobe, which is how much clothing the average person needs. And they're saying that 74 garments in a country with two seasons should be sufficient and 85 in a country with four seasons including shoes, but not accessories or underwear. And I think it's a really important concept to think about for a number of reasons. Firstly, everyone's talking about circularity and reducing virgin resources and concepts like de-growth and diversifying business models, but this actually proposes a framework on what it would take to meet the 1.5-degree climate goal.

Secondly, it highlights the inequalities of consumption and puts a spotlight on who needs to be the ones reducing their consumption. When you look at it by country, embarrassingly Australia takes out the award for the highest fashion consumption footprint of 503 kilos of CO2 equivalent per year with Australians throwing away almost as much clothing as they buy each year compared to India, which has the lowest at 22 kilos. They also found that 74% of the population in Indonesia doesn't have as much clothing as they need. They then go on to split it by class or wealth saying the richest 20% of the people across the G 20 countries are emitting 20 times more from fashion on average than the poorest 20%. It makes the case that there is more than enough to go around if we even out the spread.


But getting back to the sufficiency wardrobe, when I read the suggestion of 85 pieces, I thought that sounds doable. When I look at my own wardrobe, there are a few pieces I wear a lot and I don't buy a lot new, but there are a lot of things I've hung onto for sentimental reasons or something I love that don't fit me at the moment, or things I've got up for sale. As a whole, it is much larger than this. It got me thinking about how far off I would be in being able to achieve it, which led me to propose a design challenge. What exactly would an 85-piece wardrobe look like? Well, being in Melbourne, I would work with the 85 pieces because we definitely have four seasons. Sometimes like today, it's all in one day, and I would break them down based on loose ratios from how categories sell, and also a person's lifestyle. And in this case, I would assume that this person doesn't go to a lot of events and they would maybe hire the event wardrobe that they would wear, and also that what they wear for work crosses over into their main wardrobe.

I started breaking it down and then I thought, hang on, what about active wear or gym wear performance wear? I split it into the main wardrobe and activewear. That's about 68 items for the main wardrobe, and 17 items for active wear including shoes. If you were to break down the main wardrobe into categories, that's 13 blouses or shirts, 12 tees, 10 dresses, nine trousers or denim pieces, seven outerwear pieces, six knitwear, three skirts, three shorts, and five pairs of shoes. Remembering this would be a wardrobe for the year, and underwear and accessories aren't included. For activewear, it would be five tops, four bottoms, three bras, three outerwear pieces, and two pairs of shoes. Maybe swimwear could come into this section as well, but it gets a bit tricky. See, when you start thinking about it, you think, oh, what about this category? What about that piece? But if we just stick with the main range, that would mean 65 items to use over the course of a year.

Now, I'm pretty sure the report is not meaning that people buy 65 new items each year. So you have to think what you or your customer would buy would be a small percentage of that amount. Do you think you would get close to an 85-piece wardrobe or does your wardrobe already look like this? And if you're a business, what would your collections look like if hypothetically there was legislation to limit purchases by customers or resources for businesses? Would made to order become a larger part of your options? I'm really intrigued by this idea. It's not new for brands or stylists to talk in capsules, but it's the first time I've seen a number put toward what people should aim for.

And I'd love to know if you went through your own wardrobe and calculated what you mostly wear over a year or if you're a business owner, if it's got you thinking about how you can do things differently, you can email me at info@belindahumphrey.com or message me on Instagram at @belindahumphrey_. Again, a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this year amazing and wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2023. As always, you'll find the show notes and any links on the website, www.belindahumphrey.com in the podcast section. 

Thanks so much for listening. See you next time. 

Thanks for listening to the Fashion Unearthed Podcast. If you want to get in touch, head over to www.belindahumphrey.com, or you can find me on Instagram at @belindahumphrey_.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate at the time of recording, much like the fashion industry itself, this information may change. 


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