Illustration credit: Lisa Glanz / http://www.lisaglanz.com. Using her Personalised Portrait Creator (which is brilliant).

Question:

How many times is too many times to wear the same piece of clothing before you have to get rid of it?

I have a very special blazer that I love, but I’m worried it’s getting too ratty. But I still want to wear it. It’s what I wear to really important meetings and it always gives me a boost of confidence. I’ve tried to replace it, but it’s no longer made and I haven’t found a suitable alternate yet. I’m starting to feel a little self-conscious but I don’t want to give it up. Help?

Thanks in advance!
Worried about what other people will think.

Your jacket says…

I’m not done yet! I just need a little spruce. Give me a good clean and a little patching up, then I’ll be good as new. I want a trip to the dry cleaners and the tiny tear in my lining sewn up, and my buttons resewn so they stop hanging about. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to replace me. We fit so well together. I hug your shoulders just right, and I don’t gape when I’m closed. Plus, I’m not constricting, and don’t make you fidget. Together, there’s no better team to tackle anything!

Don’t retire me yet! We can still be great together!

Not ready to retire,
Your perfect blazer.

Style advice:

There’s no magic number how many times you can wear a piece of clothing before it’s too ratty to wear anymore. But there are a number of things you can do to extend the lifetime of your favorite garment.

1. Find the right balance between staying clean without over-laundering. Both body oils and dirt, and the process of laundering break down the fibers that our clothes are made of. Since you’re dealing with a blazer that isn’t in direct contact with much skin, you can wash or get it dry-cleaned every couple wears. And always before it goes into your closet for an extended period of time. Never, regardless of what the garment is, put a piece of clothing away for a season, or for a long period of time, without washing it.

2. Whenever possible, wash your clothes on delicate and air dry them. Heat can also be very hard on clothing fibers. Especially if there’s any polyester or spandex in the garment. And most of us don’t get our clothes so dirty that they need to go through a non-delicate wash cycle often.

The only thing that I wash on a normal or heavy cycle are towels, bedding, other linens, heavy-duty denim, and clothes that I’ve worn for mucking about in (usually ratty jeans & t-shirts).

Depending on how much space you have and your climate, air drying may be a no-brainer or might take some easing into. Most blouses, shirts, tank tops and undergarments will air dry overnight, or at least in under a day with good air circulation, in most climates (if you live somewhere perpetually damp or humid, try air drying something and see how it goes, you can always pop it back in the dryer or lay it in front of a fan it’s just not getting dry). But regardless of where you live, start small with a couple of pieces and build from there.

3. Remove stains and then tears as soon as possible. Most spills are relatively painless to get out when they’re fresh. They get really tough when they’ve been given time to set. And tears left unmended just get bigger and bigger, until they’re almost impossible (or are at least a total pain in the ass) to mend. That’s where the saying, “a stitch in time saves nine,” comes from – small tears are easier and faster to fix than larger ones.

We all have the pieces of clothing that we never want to wear out. This is especially true if we have skin or fit sensitivities, and the best way to make clothes last is by taking care of them.

Lots of love,


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