Last weekend I decided to play a small closet game (please pandemic go away I’M BORED): I tried to find every clothing item I have owned for more than 5 years. And then I tried all those clothes on. Here are some lessons I learned about why I keep things…
Wear it out: Does 5 years seem like a long or short amount of time to keep clothes, for you? The results on Instagram were mixed, but most of my followers in a very unscientific poll said that about 1/3rd of their clothes had been in their closet for 5 years. And that’s pretty amazing, considering the average lifespan of clothing is 3 years of active wear!
So faced with this depressing statistic…the best thing we can do for the environment is wear our clothes to their max limits to prolong that life and reduce waste. And the first thing I realized was that a few items have been sitting in my closet, unloved, because I DO love them and I’m afraid of them getting worn beyond use. This Old Navy dress is that exact item. As I wrote last week, the last time I put it on I got so sad about its inevitable demise I went browsing for a replacement and found…that there are like 50 of them on Poshmark. Secondhand wins! So now I’m wearing and loving this dress again, knowing that if the pilling overwhelms it or it gets deodorant stains I can pick up another one.
Break old patterns: This sweater. I LOVED this sweater when I bought it. I love a long layer in general, and this was the first sweater that taught me that. But I haven’t worn it in a couple years. I realized over the weekend that when I reach for it, I think about styling it the way I did when I bought it–with skinny jeans, ankle boots, and a chambray top (this would have been my cartoon character outfit in like 2016).
But I threw it on over the top of my weekend outfit and thought…whoa. This sweater is built for 2021! I am using this as inspiration to recognize when I always style something a certain way and should try to mix it up.
I will also say this sweater (and chambray shirt) embody my more recent closet clean out philosophy, which is that if I LOVED something once, I will probably love it again later. I am overenthusiastic about closet clean outs and love to get rid of things. And when things are just “meh,” I think it’s reasonable to let go of them. But when an item used to be my FAVORITE item, I’ve decided to keep it for a while in case I feel renewed interest. This sweater is back on a hanger in my closet this week!
Fit is queen: Ok, remember when I said I keep things I used to love for longer now? The exception to the rule is clothes that no longer fit, because why keep something if it makes you think “I wish my body would ____.” Whatever that blank is. So, I ditch things when they don’t fit. The inverse of that rule is, if something fits really really well, it’s worth GOLD, even if it’s no longer trendy. Colored dress pants that are my favorite pair ever? They can stay as long as they want. Same with the tall length denim jacket I’m about to show you….
Keep something different: Last up is this Zara lace dress that I bought in Greece in 2012. I do think finding clothes I love that remind me of travel is a pretty good souvenir (better than a fridge magnet, for me!). I have almost parted with this dress many times because 1) it’s short (I mean not really short but I don’t wear anything above the knee these days) and 2) it’s not teaching appropriate and I have a hard time with anything I can’t wear to work.
These preferences mean my wardrobe pretty much all fulfills the same work appropriate needs. And every once in a while I have some event to go to where I think “shoot, I have nothing for that.” (In this case, I’m clearly planning for some spring garden party. SEND YOUR INVITES!). So, keep something different!!
Ok, those are all my closet game ramblings. What’s been in your closet for more than 5 years? Why is it still around??