It used to be the norm to keep wardrobe items until they were too worn to wear. For one thing, it’s financially responsible. We’re respecting the investment of time and resources in the items we purchase. And it’s satisfying to reduce the cost per wear and get the most out of our fashion buck. For another, it is ecologically responsible. We’re considering the longevity of the planet. The more sustainable our wardrobes are, the better.
These days the trade-off can be different. Most of the items I pass on go either to friends, or to Dress for Success Seattle, and get a second life with a different owner. For this reason, I don’t like to pass items on if they are worn, damaged or shabby. Items should look, at most, very gently worn, so that the next person can enjoy them in a similarly polished and “new” way.
I am a neat freak who takes really good care of her things, so I haven’t found it hard to keep wardrobe items looking fab before they find their next home. This is harder to achieve with knitwear, but my new de-pilling tools help to spruce things up. It’s even harder to do with footwear because I’m hard on shoes. But sometimes shoes are very lightly worn because they are less comfortable than I had hoped, and on to their new home they go.
The reason I’m passing these items on in the first place is because the silhouettes no longer work for me on the current leg of my style journey. For example, my aversion to sheath dresses and pencil skirts because I can’t walk fast in them, and my preferences for knee-covering lengths because I feel more attractive with the coverage. Rather than keeping these items that go unworn because they don’t make me feel fab, I thought it was less wasteful to pass them on to someone who will wear them.
With the increased popularity of thrifting and buying wardrobe items second-hand, it can make even more sense to pass items on before they are very worn. A friend of mine likes to pass on her items in mint condition because she sells them second-hand. She also wears a lot of second-hand wardrobe items, and absolutely does NOT want them to look worn. If you’re a thrifter, think of how delighted you are when you buy things second-hand that barely look worn. That’s because items were passed on that way.
Of course, being in a position to pass an item on in good condition is a privilege that not everyone has. In my case, having a changing wardrobe is very much part of my profession. If I wasn’t a fashion stylist I would probably keep more items for their full usable life.
Over to you. What are your thoughts on passing on items in excellent condition? Do you find it wasteful? Or can it be a way to prolong the life of a wardrobe item before it is recycled, upcycled, or destined for a landfill.