I ALWAYS thought the term ‘recycle’ meant turning waste into something that could once again be used.

Indeed, my trusty Oxford dictionary lists the meaning as: ‘return to previous stage of cyclic process, especially to convert waste to reusable material’.

So, when I read a headline about the Duchess of Cambridge wearing a recycled dress to a wedding, I thought ‘Good on her’, imagining she had visited a jumble sale and fished out someone else’s cast-offs, or picked out one of the many fabulous garments unwanted by others and deposited at charity shops.

Sadly, neither was the case.

The word had been used to describe the fact that Kate had worn the same dress twice – once on an official visit to Canada and, recently, to a friend’s wedding.

A quick trawl of websites revealed that the term is used widely to describe this practice, both to praise, usually in connection with the Royals showing their ‘thrifty side’, and to condemn.

‘Horror of horrors’ ran a headline after actress Sophia Loren attended the Golden Globe awards in a dress she had worn previously.

‘I certainly hope the accessories were new and not something she fished out of a junk drawer,’ a reporter commented.

This means that anything worn once is immediately labelled rubbish and discarded. If it is then unearthed from the garbage and worn again for some inexplicable reason, it can be classed as recycled.

I wonder what these fashion commentators would make of my daily choice of clothes.

“Do you ever wash that jumper?” my sister recently asked, after seeing me wear it over the Easter holiday.

“You had it on at Christmas too”. The answer I gave her was “Yes, but not often,” as I wear the baggy, woollen sweater my sister brought home from a back-packing holiday in Chile, almost every day.

She then confessed to having a cardigan that she wears all the time – and never washes.

I feel sorry for those in the media spotlight who can’t get away with wearing something twice without it being noticed. One story even captures the Queen wearing a ‘recycled’ outfit she once wore at a dinner in faraway Trinidad and Tobago.

Calling her ‘thrifty’ is just plain stupid, but the pressure to buy new for each occasion must be enormous. I bet the Royals compensate by wearing the same undies week after week. Possibly even sets they picked up on Freecycle.

If the cameras were on me, I’d be making news for wearing something different. ‘Helen in new top shock’, the headline would scream.

Or, in truth, ‘new recycled top’, as it would almost certainly be from a charity shop.