Our clothes

I wear the same few things over and over—basically, things that are 1) comfortable, and 2) I like. Although every once in a while I unearth some item of clothing at the bottom of the pile that I start wearing again, most of the ones just sitting there are sitting there because they're either 1) uncomfortable or 2) I really just don't like them.

I've concluded recently that even though my shelves and closets are full, I need (or at least would like) some new clothes. I suppose this is a case of a "want" instead of a true "need," but I think it at this point if falls somewhere in between. The old ones are simply tired looking. Some of these things I literally bought before we were married—35 years ago! (And some are even old hand-me-downs from my now-grown but then-preteen daughter.)

shoes ©Janet Allen
I discovered that I had accumulated 22 pairs of shoes!

Shoes are another matter. I somehow accumulated 22 pairs of shoes over the years (and I means lots of years). I discovered all of these in the process of posting to the Center for a New American Dream's Stuff Check on shoes. Some hadn't ever been worn. Some just weren't comfortable, some I had forgotten about, and some just had been on such a good sale I couldn't resist (the worst reason for buying them). It's hard to find shoes to fit, but I'll in the future I'll have to be sure they're comfortable and fit well before I optimistically buy them.

I'm contemplating buying a couple of pieces of quality clothes even if they're expensive: things I really like that are comfortable.

John has an even more modest wardrobe and has even less interest in stylish clothes.


First, I need to get rid of hopelessly outdated clothes. It's hard to know what to do with these. They're too good to use as rags. If I had the skills, I suppose I could refashion them somehow, but I'm not sure I'm up for that level of reskilling.

Next, I need to get rid of the clothes that are perfectly fine, but which time has proven I will not wear anyway. It's easier to know what to do with these: Goodwill.

(On the other hand, our daughter found that in her city even the many Goodwill-type places were not interested in any baby clothes, even though most were almost perfect or used just once! People go overboard getting cute newborn clothing and it's just not needed. What a waste!

What I should have left is a stack of comfortable clothes I can wear around the house, and a few things I know I can quickly grab and feel I look good in—things that actually might even match! And that will be a blessing.


When I see items I'm currently wearing appearing in family photos when my 26-year-old son was 5-years-old, I know that we've been reusing our clothes!

We're planning to "reuse" our clothes by donating anything worthwhile to the local charities that accept clothes.

In the past, I've "reused" some clothes by taking them to consignment shops, but I don't have any clothes of any quality left.

Reusing other people's clothes

Consignment ©Janet Allen
Someone else's reject is new to me

I've started to try consignment shops. In the past, I hadn't found many petite sizes, but I finally found a store with quite a few selections.

Whether the previous owner simply tired of them or outgrew them, I don't know, but they were all in perfect shape.


I don't know if this qualifies as "recycling," but some, such as old, threadbare t-shirts probably will just become rags.

Old towels also make good rags, and old sheets make good tomato ties.


Although I used to sew a lot of my own clothes 40 years ago, the most I do now is to (sometimes) sew buttons back on. There's not much repair needed—my around-the-house clothes don't have to look good, and my "good" clothes don't need repair.

A big part of maintenance is cleaning. Our clothes last longer because our front-loader gently flip-flops the clothes rather than agitating them. We also hang them on the line rather than subjecting them to the heat of the dryer.

We seldom take clothes to the cleaners because we have rarely bought any clothes that have to be dry-cleaned. This is especially true now that John is retired and doesn't often wear a suit.


Looking through my stacks of old clothes, I have lots of regrets—those shoes that I hoped would become more comfortable as I wore them, but which never did become comfortable, those tops that were okay just to have something to wear, though nothing I really loved; slacks that never fit very well (though that seems to be routine for slacks). Basically, everything I have is from Marshalls (a discount store with out-of-season clothes), so to some extent they're clothes no one else wanted.

I've finally concluded that I need to take some time to find some things I really like and even spend a bit more money at a store with a better selection. I've much rather have a few clothes that I wear frequently, but love wearing than have piles of stuff I really don't like much.

Dry cleaning

We rarely buy anything that needs to be dry-cleaned. Besides the extra trouble of taking it to and picking up the dry cleaner, the chemicals used are highly toxic to the workers, to the environment, and to us when we get the smelly things home. When John was working, he did have to have a few suits, which I guess always need to be dry cleaned, but he no longer wears suits.

We don't yet have a safer, green "wet cleaner" in the CNY area that I'm aware of.