A fashionista, I am not

Sometime between when high school ended (many, many moons ago) and now, I became anti-clothes shopping.  The majority of my wardrobe dates back to college or earlier.  I’m sure that owning and wearing many of the clothes I wore in high school will not earn high marks on the fashion scale, but fashion’s never really been my thing.

I bought my two main pairs of gym shorts in 7th and 8th grade, and am just now thinking about retiring them.  The elastic waist band seems to be giving out, as evidenced by the blue pair nearly falling down on my last run.

In general, I prefer clothes that are NOT trendy, so it won’t matter if I’m still wearing them in 10 or 20 years.  In order to insure that my clothes last 10+ years, I have a couple of tricks.

First, if it’s not dirty (i.e., stained or distinctly sweaty/smelly), don’t wash it!  Excess washing is hard on clothes, not to mention the environmental impact in terms of water use and energy if you’re washing on warm or hot (if you’re doing this, switch to cold water washes).  I may have a bit of an advantage here — I seem to sweat somewhat less than the average bear, but you may be surprised at how long you can stretch things.  Also, the infrequent washing works best if your clothes don’t spend time in a heap on the floor — this makes them look wrinkly and dirty, even if they aren’t, plus it’s hard to tell what’s dirty or not.

Second, when you do wash your clothes, line dry them.  The dryer may be even harder on clothing than the washing machine.  You can extend the life of your clothes and save energy at the same time — double green bonus!  If you’re tight on space for clotheslines, either inside or out, there are many options now for collapsible drying space that takes up minimal space when not in use (check out the links in this Tiny Choices post for some options).  Due to limited yard space, we just use the clotheslines in our basement year-round.

Third, invest in good quality clothing.  A $75 top that lasts 10+ years is a better investment than a $20 top that lasts less than two years.

That said, almost all clothing does eventually wear out, or cease to fit in one way or another, and taste in clothing does change.  So what’s a greenie to do when she does want to buy some new clothes?  Come back later this week to read about my recent attempts to purchase clothes.


  1. Rachel says:

    Hi M,

    Sounds like time for a clothing swap, or a ‘naked lady party.’ You and all your ladies clean out your closets, get together, eat, drink, spread all the clothes out, try things on and fall in love with things that are new to you.

    It’s one of my favorite ways to get new clothes….


    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Sounds like a good idea. What’s the minimum number of people needed for it to work well?

    2. Rebecca says:

      We used to do this every year at the music school where I worked. It was almost laughable… everybody ripping off thier clothes during lunch breaks. Plus we were a group of broke musicians trading clothes… think 7th generation hand-me-downs! But everybody LOVED it! I think the number of people required depends largely on the variety of sizes represented. It’s always nice to make sure there are at least 2-3 people of similar sizes. Plus it works best if you choose people who have similar styles of dress (professional, athletics, performing etc.)

      I’ve heard of people doing this with lots of rules (like who can take how much etc.) We never worried about any of that. There was an old unused dressing room and we’d actually let the thing run for a month or so until it was all well picked over, then we’d haul the remains off to the thrift store.

  2. Rebecca says:

    what? no pile of clothes on the floor? but then you’re missing out on the incredible magic where things at the bottom of the pile mysteriously become clean again – by comparison at least!

    and – yes, it’s me… I’ve come out of hiding for the time being! 🙂

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Welcome back! The pile of clothes on the floor tends to be my husband’s domain 😉

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