Downshifting challenge: clothing week

This week I found myself in Romford’s enormous shopping centre. Romford in Essex is my home town and, as I was visiting, I decided that its wealth of stores made it a good place to undertake the next part of my downshifting challenge. This week I am applying the principles of downshifting a brand to save money, as has become popular in the supermarket, to buying clothes to see how much money you can save and how the quality compares.

I decided to experiment with stock items such as socks, underpants, cardigans and pyjamas. When I buy clothes, I will happily buy cheap t-shirts and tops but I tend to buy things like underpants and socks from a quality high street store. Perhaps it’s my mother’s early shopping influence, but I feel that it’s a good idea to spend a little more on something worn closely against the skin and washed repeatedly. But for the purposes of this experiment, I ignored this advice and bought some of the cheapest underwear I could find.

My first port of call was a shop called TJ Hughes. It is one of those enormous stores which stocks almost everything you can think of, from clothes and perfume to bed linen and books. Almost everything is sold at a discount price. In the ladieswear section, I was amazed to find a pack of five pairs of hi-leg white underpants priced at £2.50, reduced to £1.49. But when I got them to the till, they were actually only £1. The tag said that, despite the cheap price, they were still made from cotton. I also stocked up on five pairs of socks for £2.50 (56 per cent cotton), and a pair of cotton t-shirt pyjamas for £5.99, which, when I got to the till, were further reduced to £3.99.

Next on the itinerary was Primark. It sounds daft but I got a bit nostalgic there. As a fourteen year old, I used to go shopping in Romford with my friend Andrea and we always used to hang around Primark, although at the time we had no money to spend there. Even though it was only Monday, the place was buzzing with shoppers. Six pairs of cotton black briefs there cost me a princely £2.50. Being an Essex girl, I couldn’t resist a packet of five pairs of leopard print socks, 70 per cent cotton this time and only £2. I also picked up a long black cardigan for £11. I had a slightly embarrassing moment when I tried on a green mac and struggled for the best part of five minutes to undo the zip and escape from it, while the store security guard looked on. Eventually though I managed to escape!

My last stop was Marks & Spencer. I wanted to find out just how much my purchases would have cost me there. Their plain white or black briefs cost £6 for a pack of five, the cheapest pack of three pairs of socks was £3.50 and a cardigan similar in style to the Primark one was £35. Similar cotton t-shirt style pyjamas to the ones I purchased in TJ Hughes were £9.99.

I found these price breakdowns interesting:



Socks – £1.17 per pair

Briefs – £1.20 each

Cardigan – £35

Pyjamas – £9.99

TJ Hughes:

Socks – 50p per pair

Briefs – 20p per pair

Pyjamas – £3.99


Socks – 40p per pair

Briefs – 42p each

Cardigan – £11

But how will my downshifted purchases fare once they have gone through my washing machine and how comfortable are they compared to the more expensive versions? I’ll let you know later in the week.


Do you buy underwear from discounted stores? Do you notice a difference in quality or not compared to more expensive shops? Leave a message and let me know.

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8 Responses to Downshifting challenge: clothing week

  1. Christine says:

    Didn\’t we all used to wait for the sales in order to get the good stuff reduced rather than expect to be able to buy things dirt cheap all year round?

  2. Christine says:

    Question is – did you need any of the things that you bought? Or was it just investing in the blog you\’ve written she asks laughing. As to buying cheap – been there, done that and found that I\’d rather have things that last for years instead of having to replace too often. So cheap and hard wearing is my motto.

  3. Lesley says:

    Downsizing is great – it gives us more time to do what we really value and less time chasing cash to buy more stuff. But looking at your blog on downsizing in buying clothes – aren\’t we getting more for our money at other people\’s expense – the people who are working for appalling wages to produce all those shopping bargains. I think I\’d rather pay a bit more and not rip off my fellow workers.

  4. Kerri says:

    Lesley – the price we pay for an item isn\’t necessarily an indication of how much someone has been paid to make it. I am sure you saw the programme Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts – and yes, whilst some of the discount clothing retaillers were featured, there were other more expensive chains shown having garments made in the same factories.

  5. Kerri says:

    Btw Piper – M&S for 4 pairs of knickers for £5 – they wash quite well (imo) and are perfectly comfortable. I got some reduced for 50p per pair in their sale this summer 🙂

  6. Piper says:

    That\’s interesting about the programme Blood Sweat & T-Shirts – esp. about expensive companies using the same sweatshops. Unfortunately I missed the prog. Factory working conditions have been on my mind this week as these items are so cheap and none of the items actually state where they have been made.

  7. Piper says:

    Thanks for the M&S tip, Kerri!

  8. gail says:

    primark is a great shop especially when there is so much unemployment, folk can still afford to buy nice clothes.

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