THE linen skirt had looked so tempting hanging on the sales rail - lightweight, flatteringly cut and a bargain price as the shop cleared its summer stock out to make way for winter woollies.

Come the warmer weather, it will, I am sure be taken out and teamed with one of the fetching new tops in my possession - all purchased at prices too good to miss - for a cool summery look, but until that time it has become just another item in my wardrobe still bearing its price tag and as yet unworn.

I feel I can be excused clothing like this and the black number purchased in the January sales specifically for the dinner dance in three weeks' time.

They are not yet a waste of money - unlike so much hidden in the wardrobe depths that has been worn once or not at all.

Indeed, I have come across tops, trousers, frocks and skirts as I have rummaged through looking for something to wear that I have no recollection of buying in the first place.

The shoe mountain continues to erupt volcanically from the lower levels - boots, flats, sandals and flip-flops in a variety of colours and heel heights - and handbags cram into any available spare space.

And yet I still stand in front of the wardrobe on an almost daily basis, moaning that I have nothing to wear.

According to the latest research, I am not by any means alone.

Almost half of the clothes in Britain's bulging wardrobes go unworn, a survey from Oxfam and Marks and Spencer has revealed.

They commissioned a YouGov report which shows that 46 per cent of people's clothes - a staggering 2.4billion items - sit gathering dust and have not been worn once in the last 12 months.

Not that everyone agrees that unworn is unwanted.

One colleague in the newsroom happily admits to an extensive wardrobe and is philosophical about her just-in-case approach to clothing.

"If you've got stuff for every possible occasion and it doesn't get worn hope it's my lifestyle that's lacking rather than my wardrobe that's overextended," she says.

"I've got golf shoes for example.

"I don't play but if I ever took it up, there they are ready to go.

"There is nothing in my wardrobe that I have never worn but there is plenty that in terms of price per wear is pretty expensive.

"But just because I've only needed to wear it once so far, doesn't mean that I'm not going to wear it again."

Most people, according to the research, have an a average of 101 items in their wardrobe worth just over an estimated £430.

People between 25-34 own the most expensive unworn clothes (around £228 worth).

The good news for Oxfam is that people in the south-west are most likely (84 per cent) to donate their clothes to charity shops.

By way of incentive, Oxfam has teamed up with M&S for the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange, which is designed to encourage people to recycle their unwanted clothes by donating them to the charity.

Customers making a donation, which includes an item of M&S clothing, to an Oxfam store will receive a £5 voucher, valid for one month, to be used against a purchase of £35 or more on clothing, homeware or beauty products at M&S.

Oxfam director Barbara Stocking said: "There are huge numbers of gorgeous cothes sitting unworn in people's houses.

"Oxfam is the original clothes recycling service, and we can turn these forgotten garments into urgently needed money to tackle poverty.

"The M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange means that people who donate their unwanted clothes can save money at M&S, while also helping the environment by wasting less and helping Oxfam improve the lives of countless people around the world - so everyone benefits."

And an extra fiver to spend at M&S is a welcome bonus for being good.