I keep everything that is within a size of fitting and is in good shape. I have a classic style, a hard to fit shape and I buy quality pieces that I tailor and that are meant to last. However I don’t have all of it out all of the time, just what echoes what is currently in, in terms of either color or shape, or what provides a good base for new pieces. Usually fashion is just a remix of prior silhouettes and trends. If animal print/Pucci print/scarf print/stripes are in I first dig out what I have from the last time that was in, and often it scratches the trend itch. If not, I add something new. I also only wear real jewelry. I think it’s wasteful of both money and planet resources to churn through super trendy items, buy fast fashion, costume jewelry, etc.

What Janet says here is probably closest to what I think and perhaps what I was trying to express to FashIntern. Just because something fits it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea to keep and wear it. Part of that will be our bodies changing even if they are the same weight. Mine is not the same weight and I don’t think it will be, the effort involved is not something I can manage.
Not everyone can be an Iris Apfel. I think you probably can, Rachylou, and look good doing so. But many of us are too conventional to do that? Her way of dressing is just not me. For me personally, I’m a conventional middle-class white woman and I think I dress like that, even though I try to express my own personality in that. I am also a tight-wad partly due to upbringing (hello Presbyterianism with a Calvinist base, high five SarahD8) and I do dislike waste so I am very much wanting to be sure that I will wear whatever-it-is if I choose to buy it. Of course this doesn’t always work but I am getting better. I am also better able to rationalise spending more of the money that I honestly earned than I used to be. As I said in another thread once, I don’t seem to mind spending it on dinners out, and that money is gone once it’s spent and I don’t beat myself up? There must be some weird psychological thing going on with regard to clothes. I feel it may also be related to my relationship with my own mother who was very critical. She died when I was 38 though and I am 59 now so much of it is fading. I do keep a small amount of her clothing and jewellery for sentimental reasons and wear the jewellery. I did love her despite the difficulties and the items I have kept I love too. Her criticism of how I looked when I was pregnant when I seemed to get bigger around the back end was pretty hurtful in my first pregnancy so I will bear that in mind when one of my daughters gets pregnant ( I hope eventually since one is married and one living with her boyfriend.) I may have more to say but that will do for now! Thanks for starting the thread Carla.

Such an interesting thread. My Mum and I had three memorable fights over clothes and so she gave up on me. Probably the right decision as the last one was when I was 12. I had strong opinions re what I wanted to wear and would not be budged. Some of my choices were dubious in retrospect!!

I relate to a lot of what everyone has added. I do have a sentimental collection of pieces - mostly party dresses. And I always have a few things that I love and wear for a bit too long!! Attached finds are my current sentimental favourites.

I am not sentimental about clothing. But I do have some items that are maybe 15 years old—some sweaters and shirts, and a few jackets— that seem to just stay “ right” for my style and mixing and matching.
Yet I added items that over time did not have the same appeal or quality or staying power. It’s like I would try to have 2 or three of different things , and get yet another, instead of just wearing the same things more often.

The pandemic and retirement has over time been adjusting my attitude and relationship to wardrobe and shopping. In a good way.

I haven’t become a minimalist or reached the state of having “ one” ( coat, handbag, etc), but I am checking myself now about, why do you think you want another ( insert item of clothing)? You can get it if you want, but why?
I think I’m also getting more “ multi- purpose, when possible. Though I still have clothes that work best for specific activities- like gardening- I’m more able to say, well these coukd also be for hiking or vice versa; and some other overlap examples. I think I was thinking, “ but what if I wrecked these doing THAT?” Instead of saying, like Joy, but what good is it if you don’t wear something for 2 or 3 months because it was just for this or that? So seeing my clothes, including some of these older items, as being perfectly fine to wear now.
It turns out that at home/ staying home I am actually less “seasonless “ than when working. Even though I had seasonal fabrics there.
So I am seeing more clearly the need to have smaller but season- specific capsules for my fickle temperature. And interestingly, probably LESS transitional items.
So I don’t want to have so many similar items that I wear each only rarely but am either having it for years and years or am churning because am tired of it. What does it have to do with “ old clothes/ clothing”? More like Sterling, I think I will still want new things/ updates, for fit and changing colors or taste, knowing most of my favorite silhouettes though. But I just don’t need as much variety in retirement for “ daily outfits”, because some of my variety will happen with change of season ( wearing shorts for 3 months ( working outside) and wearing fleece for several months. Plus I want to shift budget to other areas ( especially one day post- pandemic). But if something seems to click well, I’m trying to do better at saying, well, that works fine, I don’t need another one, and I can survive without always having an immediate backup item.

Unfrumped your comment on back up items really resonated with me. When I was on the road a lot, I wanted to make sure I had back ups so I didn’t have to waste time shopping between trips. Now that seems less pressing.

Carla, you are eloquent, wise, and so in tune with your emotions. Very inspirational! I love how you soul searched, and have applied what you learned. Well done!

Thanks for the thoughtful comments, everyone. I relate to many things that were shared.

I resonate a lot with what Janet said.

Laughing at Sal!

Personally, I am sentimental about many things. Wardrobe items included. Stuff that extremely important people in my life have given me, I usually keep. I have held onto some wardrobe items for 28 years. Inherited family jewellery that is almost 100 years old.

I absolutely pass on items that I associate with devastating events. For example, the items I wore in the last few weeks of my late Mum’s life when she suffered too terribly - gone almost right away. I was 29. The shoes I wore when I fell badly on my back last year - gone too.

Really interesting reading . I am the least sentimental person - especially with regards to clothes - you’ll ever meet . The only things I miss and no longer have are pieces that became damaged somehow ( hello absolute favourite pinstripe suit that got damaged by some spray cleaner or another ) . I march to the beat of my own drum and my mother actually deferred to me and had me pick out a lot of her clothes later in her life . I have had massive wardrobe churn , and don’t love old clothes .....mostly because I think it takes a lot of talent and confidence to wear old pieces with a new vibe . That’s a talent I don’t possess . Major weight fluctuations throughout my adult life , major job changes , and the constant development of my personal style ( I learn the hard way , apparently ) and a decades long career in fashion in all its variances mean that most of my wardrobe is less than 5 years old at any given time. Accessories not included .

Well Lisap you certainly have talent and confidence to wear *pieces* with a new vibe!
But what you say about wearing old pieces like that was what I was trying to say. A few have that talent. I would venture to suggest that most do not. I do not.

This is all very interesting especially how the clothing that one wears at difficult time’s in ones life seems to hold onto the emotions associated with that time.Its only recently that I have been able to wear Navy comfortably as it was the colour of my working uniform all my professional life.l wonder if men are so emotionally in tune with their clothing or whether it’s a uniquely female trait.
As for my own wardrobe l keep what’s not broken,still fits and is comfortable.l have many pieces over 10 years old and still wear them.

The more I think about this , the stronger are my opinions . Here’s how I see old clothes working well : quality , timeless design and designer level fabrics and construction; a consistency to the curation , and the point of reference ( minimalist design , boho , avant-garde) supported with contemporary grooming . Old stuff worn with no intent or knowledge of the era just looks the wearer hasn’t seen the inside of a retail shop in years . 20 year old silk blouses, 30 year old merino wool turtlenecks , classic fine gauge wool trousers impeccably pressed and cleaned , old leather brogues or boots kept shon to a high gleam .....those are great and LOOK great because the quality of the pieces transcends time . Wear them with an expensive looking haircut , good jewellery and polished makeup - and it’s dynamite . Clothes one wore to high school don’t fit this bill in my unhumble opinion . My favourite saying for many occasions is “ just because you can, doesn’t mean you should . “

Jenni - I don’t either and am the first to admit it .

Lisa, I definitely see your point and agree about the kinds of items that age particularly well when worn in the context of a modern outfit with contemporary styling and great grooming. On the other end of the spectrum, I think that older pieces that are perhaps more unique, avant-garde, or really quirky in a way that sort of defies a particular point in time can transcend era too. I think things like that worn with a really simple classic backdrop of supporting acts in an outfit can really work, depending on the style of the wearer.

It can be an art I agree Lisa. Alexa Chung springs to mind as having the ability to mix in cool and classic, vintage and new. Sarah Jessica Parker too. Rachylou and Shevia as well.

Older clothes in my closet tend to be the classics kept for practical needs. Some are worn very infrequently but I feel I must keep them because I can’t go get something new for the rare but specific occasion. I do like these items, some very much. Older is probably relative here, none are vintage.

..black pants, skirt and jacket, dressy blouse for funeral services
..hiking pants that zip off at the knee to become shorts
..denim jackets, various but similar fits
..perfect warm running shirts and jackets, some up to 15 years old
..fleece vests to wear over everything (multiple layers of other tops and sweaters) at home in cold winter

Other older clothing items have been passed on, many, like Carla, after I retired four years ago. Some were classic-office-lady work pants, business casual sweaters, lots of skirts and summer blouses. While I was wearing them five days a week for many years, the nice quality items stayed on hand and in rotation for several years. I didn’t replace my whole wardrobe every season. But outfits and individual pieces always became older at some point. Then I’d consider donating when they showed wear, fit changed, or coordinates became sparse. Buying a few new things every year which became new favorites meant nothing was super old.

I can honestly see some of my current items becoming old/oldish someday. Maybe because I don’t seem to have as wide a variety of activities as when I was working, I tend to uniform dress, and have been pretty strict about donating things I can detect I’m not wearing, which is more noticeable when I wear casual clothes every day. But I’m also not shopping this year, hence the aging of the wardrobe. Will that change next year? I’m not sure, but retirement casual activities, less need to impress, and uniform choices make it not as alluring to get something new.

Thinking of old clothing memories is interesting. I don’t have any of these items but clearly remember from childhood, mom-made wool plaid jumpers, a red sweater with a white collar (which I refused to wear because the collar didn’t extend around the back neck, hence looked fake to me at age 8), a pastel fuzzy sweater I loved, many mom-made dresses including my 7th grade and 8th grade dance dresses from dotted Swiss, all the clothes I made myself in high school and college, my wedding dress (mysteriously gone from where I stored it at my parents’, which I kind of feel as a relief. They were involved in community theater, so did it end up in the costume shop?), years worth of clothes I made for myself and my two girls as they grew up... Lots of memories which I didn’t need to keep as tangible items, and were worn out or outgrown along the way.

Oh thank you Sal (blushing). Because I was getting a bit queasy there for a second . This is a fascinating thread. Rachylou's attitude immediately resonated, as I have a hard time getting rid of my greatest finds, even if I am not wearing them at the moment (year). I have emotional connection with clothes when I find them in the most unexpected places, and also a few pieces that I associate with events.

I struggled a little bit a few years ago in letting go of older clothes, I still have a slight struggle now, but less so. I have less emotional connections with clothing now, as we had a very horrid burglary a few years ago, when a lot of family jewellery was stolen. It broke our hearts, but has been an absolute gift. Because letting go now is much easier. We learnt a lot from that experience. Then lockdown has also taught me that the fabric of life - trips to shops, coffees out, although would have been considered by my late father as extravagant, I love these experiences and choosing lovely things. So it is okay for me to spend time and money doing this.

I try to rotate and keep a polished work wardrobe, that can withstand a commute. I do get totally fed up with prints after a while and also clothes that don't earn their place in my wardrobe, so a purge will often involve those pieces.

I love my high end Oxfam pieces - a Dolce and Gabanna jacket and a skirt, not matching, but both classic and lovely. I wouldn't buy new, but do love their cut and cloth. So, I think Oxfam is good for me for those types of pieces. And their deliveries take time, so good for me to learn some patience!

I am nodding with what LisaP says about old stuff worn with no intent.

Count me as another who doesn’t have styling info built into her genetic code—but I can learn! It’s great when Rachylou stops by and says “try it with these boots” or “what if you roll up the sleeves?” She has done that since I first started here. I don’t see my wardrobe as an elite athletic team where members have to prove their worthiness everyday or get booted. It’s much more like a private school where, once you’re in, I want to keep you and will work with you to figure out ways to do it. Those of you who enjoy working with style and trying to solve the puzzle of what makes an outfit work, I’d love it if you’d stop by my styling posts with specific suggestions.

Hey LisaP, I think you nailed it, there is a difference between old clothes and old outfits! You can work an older piece in with current pieces, you just should never wear it with the same pieces you wore it with when you originally bought it. So don’t keep the pieces of a suit or an outfit together in a time capsule, instead remix each year. And put away shoes that have the wrong cut unless they are a classic. I use Angie’s lists and the Neiman Marcus trends to get a sense of what is trending and then shop my closet first for pieces that reflect that. As noted above there are also signature pieces that can be timeless, like the white blouses of Carolina Herrera or old school Levi jeans or classic eveningwear.

Interesting read, thanks for the thought provoking topic Runcarla. I have kept sentimental items that were either gifted or inherited from people I cared about. For example my aunts jewelry, my grandmothers aprons and a favorite tote bag given to me by my MIL. I tend to keep practical favorites a long time, particularly coats, jackets and shoes. My Jean jacket may be the longest lived among items I have purchased for myself. My MIL had my wedding dress hermetically sealed by a dry cleaner as a gift. I am not sentimentally attached to the dress and should probably donate it to someone who likes 1980’s wedding fashion.

My mother chose all my clothes until I graduated from high school. I do not resent her but I also did not learn much about how to choose for myself until I joined this forum.

As I work from home, I find I am honing my wardrobe to the items I use and love. They definitely reflect my personal style, but it’s not because I have am eliminating old items or pieces associated with negative emotion. It’s more that I am confident about what it is I like and how I want to present myself to others, which makes editing out the rest seem easier. I am happy with what I have and have not made many purchases.

I wrote a post about what I think transcends trends a while back, and it's relevant today:


Jaime (Shevia), is highly skilled at selecting and styling old items and looking FABULOUS

And there is this pov, which I 100% embrace :


Style is a sum of its parts. Lots of variables at play to make a look work on the wearer. Throw in that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and there are even MORE variables!

I've found that when something really suits me, it looks good for years and years. If it's a perfect 10 in terms of colour, fit, fabric and construction, it looks better after a decade than a brand-new garment that's "off" in some way. I figure if I hang onto the stuff the stuff that I feel best in, and let go of the not-so-great stuff (whether it's old or new), I'll end up with a functional closet that makes me happy.

I'm not terribly sentimental. I have been known to cut the graphic portion out of unwearable t-shirts in order to have a souvenir, and I've put aside a very small amount of DS's baby clothes to have a few mementos (mostly the things my mother knitted for him). I have a few heirloom jewelry pieces from older relatives that I don't wear but would never give away. But for the most part, I'd rather see things being used and enjoyed by someone else than gathering dust in my closet.

Agreeing very much with cat2 & LaPed’s latest additions to this thread—sometimes older works better than new, but probably not in the same configuration as bitd. I’d add that sometimes, some pieces can sit out a number, and be picked up again in another season. If I had groovy bell bottoms from the 70s (I don’t—was too small), I would not have worn them at the height of the skinnies craze, about a decade ago, no matter how perfectly they fit, but you bet your sweet bippy I’d be happily pulling them out now!

La Ped, YES. I think I that when something really suits me, it doesn’t even occur to me to wonder whether it is dated. I just feel right in it. (And, isn’t that what we want from our clothes, to be able to put them on and not worry about them or have them trigger self doubt?)

... apropos of nothing, years ago I paid for a Style Statement. Carrie and Danielle gave me ‘Contemporary Beauty.’ Absolutely useless as a visual fashion guide, but it did philosophically encapsulate my approach to life... there’s a beauty to be found in everything and anything. I like the challenge of making things work. I secretly think of high style as being able to take anything and make it beautiful and yours. I think of cooking that way too. Can’t remember who said this, but they said the best cuisines of the world come from the techniques of poor people taking the poorest quality food and making it taste good. I absolutely feel Angie is right that style can be had at any price.

... and anyways, so sometimes a person seems like they just got stuck in a decade and are getting dusty. I’m not entirely sure it’s the age of the clothing or something else about the person. You can buy a bedazzled sweatshirt right now from one of those weird catalogs and be really cool or you can buy one and look really not.

Echoing Jaime. I have something akin to reverence for old pieces. Whether they are hands me downs from my mum or I find them thrifting, I grow emotionally attached to them quickly. Even if they are not fashionable in the moment, if they are impeccably made and unique, I just can’t lose them. I imagine a story behind each and every one of my pieces. In fact, I find it much harder to get rid of older thrifted treasures than something I buy at retail.

With me, it's a mixed bag. There is just so much emotional WEIGHT attached to them, whether positive memories or skeletons in my closet. It's an interesting thing to think about

There is always something to learn and absorb from the combined wisdom of this forum! Today I’ve been looking at my closet and going through the exercise of figuring which ‘top 10 for 10’ - items that could become old friends (at 10 years or more) and interestingly 4 are thrifted! (Jean jacket, black wool jacket, white denim sheath, LBD, black taffeta ball skirt, Wool/Cashmere Peacoat, Leather coach bag, Lepliage x 2, silky menswear style button down). There are other classics and favourite garments, but due to high number of wears per year, they likely will be worn out in 3-5 years.

@Cardiff girl - I believe men have their own issues with sentimentality when it comes to clothes! DH held onto a university jacket (wool,body, leather arms) that was in pretty grotty condition. Restoration was considered, but he knew he’d never wear it again, and the DS’s are so much bigger than DH, that they wouldn’t wear it either! There are a few ball hats, and some rugby sweaters that have seen better days, but where sentimentality has won them a reprieve from the donation pile!

@Angie - great links! I especially liked the 2015 throwback.

Oh, I think things like letter jackets are a complete exception. They might have been "fashion" or utilitarian at the time of purchase, but after that, they are remembrances of one's high school years. DS2 has a letter jacket he wore for two years that he will likely never get rid of. He is SO proud of the letter, the bars, the medals and pins he won that all are on that jacket that it's just a part of his life he won't be willing to toss. Besides, who would want an old jacket with someone else's name and school and graduation year on it?

Likewise, I've kept one outfit from each of my children when they were babies. They'll never fit anyone again, and will never be used again, but they're keepsakes now; they've moved beyond being clothes.

I'm late replying here but what a great conversation, Carla!

I'm of the view that the pieces that age best tend to be the most unique -- avant-garde, quirky, special designer, iconic styles.

I own one such piece -- bought at consignment, a vintage Biba kimono. I hardly wear it, but it does not date and comes in handy. Jewelry, hats, scarves also come to mind.

Most items, though, I pass along within 3-10 years. I've had a few items since the first year I joined YLF!

Blushing some more, Angie you made my day!
Roxanna yes! I would much more easily give up something I bought at retail, at retail prices, than something I found at the bottom of a thrift store barrel and paid $2.
Carla - I know of many men who have literally worn the same clothes for decades. One might be my father. But in his case at least, it is not exactly sentiment.