In Sally's small wardrobe thread, Zaeobi asked, "What are people counting as 'wearing out' an item - burst seams? Moth holes? An unremovable stain?"

I thought the answer was worth its own thread, because I bet we have varying experiences.

The most common reasons I retire an item for wear are:

  • Stretching out/becoming misshapen. Items with any sort of stretch fiber often lose their shape over time. Necklines sag. Knees bag out. Hems get weirdly skewed. At first, everything snaps back with a wash, but over time, the fibers weaken and no longer return to their original shape. It happens with underwear and socks, as well as things like leggings, pants, and tops. Leather shoes too.
  • Fabric breaking down. Woven fabrics literally wear out. The fibers break in places where they're continually rubbed or stretched. For me, this usually happens on elbows, inner thighs, and sometimes across the shoulders or rear.
  • Pinprick holes. This happens a lot on jersey fabrics. T-shirts get tiny holes. I'm not sure if it comes from something snagging them or from rubbing when they're tucked or if it's just the nature of the beast.
  • Fading/pilling. I have tools to deal with pilling and often re-dye black items to restore their richness, but there are times when prints fade so much that they look tired or pilling becomes too much to control.
  • Padding/structure breaking down. This is specific to shoes, but I suppose could apply to certain outerwear or something like bras, too. I consider shoes worn out when they no longer provide adequate support for my feet. Foam and cork lose their loft, and quilting can clump and separate.

Accidents happen too--stains, tears, etc, but I think the above are examples of pieces really and truly wearing out,

Do you have other examples?