Do You Save Your Clothes “For Good”?

Many of us have quite a few clothes in our closets that are rarely or never worn.  The reasons these clothes are gathering dust are many…  They may no longer fit our current bodies or suit our present day lifestyle, or we may simply not love them anymore.  These are all good reasons for passing things along to friends, family members, charity, or consignment.  There’s little sense in keeping things around that no longer work for who we are today.

Why We Save Our Clothes “For Good”

However, there’s another reason why our clothes don’t see much, if any, wear.  Sometimes we’re simply saving them “for good.”  What does that mean?  Saving “for good” is when we don’t want to wear clothes we actually like – or even love – for one of the following reasons:

  • We think our everyday occasions aren’t good enough for wearing our “nice clothes.”
  • We’re afraid of wearing out our favorite clothes and having to replace them.
  • We’re afraid we may never be able to find such nice clothes again, so we should only wear them on “special occasions.”

All of these reasons have been mentioned by readers of this blog and I’ve experienced them myself as well.

In today’s post, I’m going to explore the phenomenon of saving clothes “for good.” I’ll tackle the three reasons mentioned above for doing so and do my best to convince all of you – and myself – that we should be wearing our favorite clothes!

Woman choosing clothes

Do you save some of your favorite clothes “for good”?

“My Everyday Life isn’t Good Enough”

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?  You went shopping and came home with a blouse (or skirt or dress or whatever) that you absolutely love.  You were so happy to find something that fit you so well and that you felt so attractive wearing.  You really felt you “scored” to find something so lovely and flattering!

Fast forward six months… the blouse is still hanging in your closet with the tags on it!  A friend comes over to your house, sees the beautiful blouse in your closet, and asks why you haven’t worn it yet.  You reply,

I’m saving it for a special occasion.” 

Boy, does that scenario resonate with me.  More times than I can count, I’ve bought beautiful pieces and failed to wear them much or at all.  Of course, sometimes these items weren’t a match for my individual lifestyle, but just as many times it was a mental block that prevented me from wearing them.

One reader recently commented that she strongly believes we should all dress for ourselves, and she wears her nice clothing even when she’s working from home and no one else will see her that day.  My first response was, “Of course we should dress for ourselves!”  But I have to admit that while I make a point of ensuring my at-home wear is clean and coordinated and not sloppy or disheveled, I definitely avoid wearing my nicer items at home and during my more casual activities.  I generally save these pieces for when I’m going out and will interact with a number of other people.

After pondering the comment for a few days, I’ve started to wear some of my nicer tops when working from home.  We’re not even talking blouses here; just a notch or two above the basic athletic tees I previously wore in my home office.  I’m taking “baby steps” in that I’m still wearing yoga pants and slippers, but many of my “wardrobe benchwarmers” are tops anyway.  So instead of wearing these tops just once or a few times each year when I go out, why not wear them at home?   Attitude adjustment number one, complete!

“What if I wear out my favorite clothes?”

Another reason we save our clothes “for good” is that we’re afraid of wearing them out too quickly by donning them for our more basic life occasions.  We fear that the more we wear our favorite pieces, the more we’ll have to wash them, and then they won’t last as long.  Of course, there is some logic to this fear, but there’s also another side to it.

Most of us don’t love the same clothes today that we loved three years ago or perhaps even last year.   Not only do the fashions and styles change, but our tastes and preferences evolve as well.  Even if you don’t follow trends and pay little mind to what’s “in,” what strikes your personal fancy will change.  Not only that, but your body size and shape may also change such that clothes you previously loved to wear may no longer fit well or look flattering on you.

So why not live in the moment and wear what you love today?  After all, you love these clothes right now, they fit you, and you feel happy and attractive wearing them.  Yes, your clothes will wear out sooner if you wear them more frequently, but wouldn’t it be better to purge these pieces from your wardrobe after they’ve been worn and loved rather than because they no longer fit your body or personal sense of style?

“I may not be able to find something like this ever again!”

The final reason (at least that I thought of…) for saving clothes “for good” is that we worry we’ll never be able to find something as wonderful ever again.  So we only wear our most fabulous pieces on “special occasions” in order to extend their life span.  This is an example of having a “scarcity mentality.”  We believe there’s only a small amount of really fabulous clothing out there, so we need to conserve the precious gems in our wardrobes for as long as possible.

While it can be difficult to find clothes that really “float our boats,” it isn’t impossible.  If we wear out our favorite dress, we will find another dress to love in the future. In actuality, we’ll probably find many more dresses that excite us in the coming years.

Sure, there will be times when the fashion industry is churning out shapes and styles that aren’t ideal for our bodies or personal aesthetics, but things always cycle back around.   I haven’t been thrilled with the available pants options for a number of years now, but I have faith that I’ll find exciting pants choices again in the future.  In the meantime, I’m wearing the pants I have that I do like.  While they are all getting past their prime at this point, I know that once the obsession with “skinnies” and cropped pants subsides, there will be pants for me once again.

I think it’s important for us to take good care of our favorite clothes – and all of our clothes (I’ll write more on this soon, but check out these tips for now).  But we shouldn’t let our worries about clothes wearing out stop us from wearing them.  We also shouldn’t worry too much about whether or not we’ll be able to find clothes we love in the future.  We will!

The Bottom Line…

Bottom line, the clothes we love shouldn’t be gathering dust in the deep recesses of our closets.  Instead of wearing our “C players” much of the time, we should proudly don our “A-team” as much as possible.  I know women who wear their new pieces right out of the store.  They can’t wait to put them on!   And they wear those same favorites over and over again until they get tired of them.   They wouldn’t dream of saving those gems “for good.”  They firmly believe that the purpose of our clothes is to wear them as much as possible and for all life occasions.

From this day forth, I will endeavor to be more like these women.  As I jettison more and more unloved garments from my closet, I’m becoming acutely aware of the favorites that rarely see the light of day.   That’s just not right!  My favorites should be getting worn many, many times each year – until they’re either worn out or not my favorites anymore.  That’s the way it should work, and that’s the way I plan to do things from now on.

Are You On Board?

Who’s with me?  If you’re not already wearing your favorite pieces all the time (I know some of you are, and that’s wonderful!), how about joining me in turning that around?  Why shouldn’t a trip to the grocery store or a day in your home office be good enough for wearing your closet gems?  All it takes is a little attitude adjustment…


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Comments

  1. Guilty! I grew up on a ranch and we had our “play clothes” and our “good clothes”. It’s hard to overcome come that, but I’m trying. I live in town now. Nothing I do will ruin my favorite tops (I always wear jeans or yoga pants). Planning to don my favorite sweater tomorrow! Thanks for the push!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kayla. I’m glad my post gave you a needed push. I hope you’re wearing your favorite sweater now! I’m wearing one of my favorite tops that I’d only worn once so far this year. I pushed myself, too 🙂

  2. The danger with saving your favorite clothes is also that you get into a cycle of only wearing the “old stuff”, and finally wearing your favorites when you don’t love them that much any more. I noticed lately that on an everyday basis, I now wear the clothes that I loved three years ago (because I don’t care anymore if they wear out or not), while I leave my new stuff in the wardrobe (sometimes even in its shopping bag!) for months. Maybe I’ll wear what I spent money on this year in three year’s time, who knows…. but that just doesn’t make any sense. Even though I have nice new clothes I wear clothes from years back all the time to save the new stuff and wear out the old stuff. No wonder I’m not happy with what I’m wearing and hit the shops repeatedly!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Your pattern has been mine, too, K. I have a loose rule of returning anything I haven’t worn within a month, but I think it’s time to make it more of a hard and fast policy. Of course, it’s best to only buy what we love and can’t wait to wear right away! I may be a slow learner, but I’m glad I’m finally starting to get it. Maybe I’ll finally start doing what I’ve been recommending to others for years… It’s never too late to turn things around!

  3. Maybe if we consider this attitude for a different field it can help us realize how devious this logic is… imagine if you saved up a cake for a special occasion ? after a little while it just wouldn’t be good any more. If you decided you should see your friends less in order to appreciate their presence more when you do see them ? If you decided you shouldn’t go to the cinema when you want to because you’re afraid it will not be as fun if you go more often ? With this logic you can literally spend your life “saving up” for later.
    Besides, it takes me at the very least two years to wear down a favorite item I wear at least once a week. Clothes are not that quick to wear down actually…so if you wear it once every two or three months to save it up, how long are you expecting to keep it ? Ten years ? Sounds a bit absurd now, doesn’t it ?
    I also think there may be an underlying fear that you have to “live up” to the good clothes when you are wearing them. Your hair has to be perfect, the occasion special etc. When you think of it though, this is a very toxic attitude because it assumes that YOU have to struggle be good enough for your objects… obviously, living that way is very sad and harmful. Every time you hesitate to wear your nice blouse, you can remind yourself : they’re only clothes.
    thanks for this wonderful blog…

    • Wow, Clara, that was truly amazing. I love how you think! Brilliant!

    • Great way to put it, Clara!

      I relate to this post a lot – I tend to try to save my favorite pieces for days when I know I’ll be seeing a lot of people, which is silly. I want everything in my wardrobe to be an 8 or above, then I can feel great about what I wear every day!

    • What you say is so true. This time last year I gave away more than half of my wardrobe, at least half of those items were clothes that were never to rarely worn pieces precisely because I saved them for dressier days. Well, those rarely came up and I no longer liked the clothes so I handed them off to people who would actually wear them. It was a very expensive lesson and I felt really dumb when I saw them gathered into a huge pile. After that fiasco, I started buying higher quality items based on styles and materials of pieces that I wore all the time and abolished the idea of saving anything for special occasions. When I get something new, I make sure I wear it right away unless it’s something off season but even then, once the season shifts, I wear the stuff I bought ahead of time immediately to get as much use out of it. It’s also true that it takes awhile for clothes to wear out, especially if you buy higher quality materials. If it’s something I truly love, unless it got damaged badly or irreversibly stained, I usually still wear it even if it looks old.

      • Haha, thanks guys, that’s really sweet of you !
        good luck to all of us getting rid of bad habits ! 🙂

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Others have already chimed in, but I wanted to also tell you how brilliant your comment was, Clara! The comparisons you made to cakes, friends, and cinema really helped to drive your point home. You’re right that clothes don’t wear out as fast as we think they will, at least not if we buy highly quality pieces. I also liked your point about feeling we have to “live up” to our nice clothes by having our hair and make-up look perfect. I’m guilty as charged! I think your mantra of “They’re only clothes!” should be taped inside of many of our closets!

    • I also think there may be an underlying fear that you have to “live up” to the good clothes when you are wearing them. Your hair has to be perfect, the occasion special etc. When you think of it though, this is a very toxic attitude because it assumes that YOU have to struggle be good enough for your objects… obviously, living that way is very sad and harmful. Every time you hesitate to wear your nice blouse, you can remind yourself : they’re only clothes.

      Can I just say ‘life-changing moment!

      Brilliant!

      • Debbie Roes says:

        Yes, that WAS a great comment, wasn’t it, Sue? I’m glad I got a chance to re-visit it today after your comment. She’s so right… they’re only clothes! I’m glad you found this post and Clara’s comment helpful!

  4. Funny that I read this post today. I have been thinking a lot about “wearing your wardrobe” this past week! I can be so guilty of this… But really, what good are my favorite dresses doing languishing in my closet? This is definitely an area I need to work on.

    Also, the link about caring for your clothes – I couldn’t agree more with line-drying your clothes. I am 100% convinced the dryer is the destroyer of new-looking clothing. I line dry everything!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Glad you liked this point, Chelsea. Yes, dryers really DO damage our clothing. Most of us have enough clothes that we can wait for things to line dry (or dry on hanging racks, which is what I use). I hope you start to wear more of your favorite dresses! It really does feel good to “dress up” even if we don’t have anywhere to go. 🙂

  5. One reason is that some of the “good clothes” are machine washable. While I avoid buying clothes that require dry cleaning, I still have a few from a former lifestyle that haven’t yet been sent to consignment. I try to leave dry-cleaning for blankets too big to wash.

    I also line dry all clothes. Only linens go in the dryer.

    With new purchases being washable and not very dressy, I am converting to a wardrobe that can be worn daily. While I am retired, I live in a senior building and see people in the halls all the time.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      It’s good that you are converting your wardrobe more to match your life, Sandra. I’m working to do the same. My life is very casual, so I’ve given myself a moratorium on buying dressier items. I have more than enough at this point. I think it’s great that you make an effort to dress nicely at home. I’m sure you make a nice impression on the people you see in the halls.

  6. I wear all of my wardrobe year-round. That’s why I paid real money for it — to wear it every day. I take very good care of my clothes (be sure to read Debbie’s link on clothing care — I use all of these tips and more; I line dry about 2/3 of my clothes and all of my undergarments). I buy the best quality I can afford, avoiding clothes with fussy, hard-to-care-for ornamentation (sequins, etc.) so my clothes last a long time. I do worry about being able to replace my clothes (not individual garments) with others of equal quality because there seems to be a “dumbing down” of quality of materials and construction in most clothes available today. I have a small wardrobe and every article of clothing in it HAS to work or out it goes!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked my clothing care tips, Dottie. Your point about the quality of clothing declining is a valid one, sadly. We have to pay THAT much more attention to how things are made and do our best to find quality pieces. It’s not so easy anymore, but we CAN find better pieces that will last longer. You’re right that the “fussy” items won’t last as long, so we should err on the side of caution and buy very few (or no) such pieces.

  7. I used to be guilty of that until just a few years ago. For some reason, I thought that an expensive item would be less special, if I downgrade it to everyday wear. It took moving to a cooler climate to allow myself to wear the cashmere, and be warm and comfortable in the house, instead of saving it for???. Been wearing those sweaters now for three winters, and I hardly feel guilty anymore. 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you’re wearing your cashmere sweaters all the time now, Cornelia. Every day is really a “special occasion” and worthy of our favorite clothes. I didn’t “get it” until recently, but now I’m working to turn things around!

  8. Debbie thank you for continuing to explore the reasons our closets are not working for us – and so much comes down to our attitudes and hidden fears! Thanks for shining a big, bright light into the recesses of our minds as well as our closets 🙂
    I’m going to make sure I wear one of my “A Team” every day.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You’re welcome, Megan. I’m glad you’re planning to wear your “A Team” all the time now. You’re worth it!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Guilty! But learning.

    Two hard lessons that aided my educational process. I had a stash of favorite German cotton underwear that a friend traveling in Europe purchased for me. I knew I might never find this brand or style again, so I put the 12 pairs away until the current ones wore out, figuring the stash would last the rest of my life. Lo and behold, five years later, I decided to swap out one new pair for one old pair, and discovered the elastic has turned to dust in all 12 pairs. Gone! With no enjoyment or wear, only anticipation.

    My second lesson came when moths ate every one of my carefully folded and stored, unworn cashmere sweaters and scarves. I was saving these for special occasions which never arrived. Not one sweater had been worn — and the scarves had only graced my neck once. I cried and cried over this loss — what a wake-up call. I had spent so much money on such beautiful items, treasuring them and anticipating the day I’d wear them — that day never came.

    I pray I’ve learned to enjoy my clothing this day, while I have it.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your stories, Elizabeth. You REALLY did have to learn the hard way! Very sad and hard stories, but in sharing them, I guarantee you’ve help others to avoid your mistakes. You definitely helped me!

    • That’s so sad – I’m guilty of doing exactly the same thing though so thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. This post came in timely for me, as I was just gifted a gorgeous Coach leather tote bag in a color I l love. It is on the brink of becoming an item I look at with adoration but not use because I’m afraid I’ll mess it up. Intellectually I know I am being ridiculous because Coach bags are meant to last for decades, but this is a lighter color, which gives rise to apprehension on my part. Furthermore, the bag is the perfect size and organization on the inside…so what am I waiting for?!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I hope that by the time of this reply, you have already taken the beautiful new bag out for a spin, Deby! I can identify with your worries for sure, but our lovely things are there to be enjoyed. If you have already done so, I hope you will carry and enjoy your new tote bag soon!

  11. I am most guilty of keeping shoes “for good,” especially suede ones. In fact, I bought a gorgeous pair of red suede sandals in summer that I did not wear at all because they are too good. I’m not worried about that though as I know next summer I will wear them. I keep my good shoes for years and I look after them. I have pairs that are 10 years old that whenever I wear get compliments.

    As far as clothes, I do keep some things for “good” and prefer to. I have an incredible black jacket that I bought 6 years ago that I wear for good only. It was an expensive designer jacket in superb fabric, cut and details. It doesn’t get worn weekly, BUT, it is in pristine condition, I love it and it always looks new. I don’t want it to look shabby and it is the sort of jacket that I will be wearing for years to come (as long as it fits.) I have never tired of that jacket.

    On the other hand I always wear my cashmere. If it is good quality cashmere it lasts and lasts and looks better with washing. I always buy cashmere in the sales and have had years of wear from the cashmere I own. I don’t wear good silk for around and about as it is too high-maintenance for everyday. I handwash all my good silk and wools.

    Finally, when I can’t wait to wear a garment then I know it is the right garment to buy. The clothes that I love and wear the most are the ones that I couldn’t wait to put on. This is a good sign for me and one that I need to pay more attention to. Clothes that come with the tagline “this would be handy for…” or “this could work with ….” are the future benchwarmers which end up being never quite right, never quite loved and ultimately tossed.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Carolyn. It seems you’ve learned the distinction of when it’s appropriate to save particular items “for good.” In the case of your black jacket, since it seems to be a classic piece and you actually DO have some more formal occasions for wearing it (unlike me who almost NEVER has a formal occasion), you’re acting wisely there. Your last paragraph highlighted some excellent points! I’m going to aim for most or all of my new purchases to be those items I can’t wait to wear. No more buying “just in case” or “this would be handy for”…

  12. Y’all know I’m guilty, not for saving things for good, but because I only wear my favorites every other week instead of as often as I want due to my crazy fear of being afraid my favorites will wear out and I won’t be able to afford to replace them. I’ve begun to break this crazy cycle.

    Thank you Debbie, and thank you to everyone who commented. I do need to be reminded that having a scarcity mentality will limit me and limit what comes to me. And I need to be reminded to live in the moment. I thought I had learned that lesson years ago when my son had cancer and a brain tumor. Back then I never saved anything because I knew every moment and every day was was special occasion. But what I did not understand until now is that since I buy good quality and take care to either hand wash or wash on delicate and line dry most of my favorites, it will take a long time for them to wear out even if I wear them multiple times a week. Knowing this sets me free!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank YOU, Terra, for giving me a post topic! Your comments on a previous post got me thinking I should write about this and it seems to have resonated with many people (as I suspected it would). Thanks for sharing about your son and the powerful lessons you learned during his illness. Sometimes it takes dire circumstances for us to realize that ALL days are “special occasions.” Just the fact that we are alive is cause for celebration, but it’s human nature to forget that. It sounds like you’ve experienced a recent shift in perspective about your wardrobe. I hope you’re wearing some of your favorites today as I write this!

  13. Terra, your situation puts all our clothing decisions right back into perspective. Thank you for your comment.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Terra was the one who sparked me to write about this, Katy, so I’m so glad she chimed in. I loved her comment, too!

  14. Thank you so much for this post, it was exactly what I have been needing to hear. I also thank everyone for the fabulous comments. I am sick with how I have done this myself, my life was hard in many ways, I never was able to afford good clothing. When the time came that I was able to buy nice things, I wore the cheap crap just so I could save the good stuff..I would actually purchase crap for “everyday wear”. I was afraid I could never replace, or maybe I didn’t feel I deserved to wear, the nice things. Well, lately I have attempted to just wear it, and gee, I suddenly looked and felt better. I am done with this. First thing tomarrow, I am clearing out all of the ugly and cheap crap, forcing myself to wear nothing but the good stuff. I will allow myself one crap outfit for scrubbing house, but that is it. The rest is going to donation, and why not? I am not getting any younger, a bus could run me down tomarrow, etc., but most of all, why not look and feel good all of the time? If anything, my self esteem will increase and I may possibly str dating again, ha ha. Thank you for this post, it really helped me to see life in a healthier light. 🙂 Lets all wear what we love, even if we are only on the computer, even if we only run to the store for milk, hell, just imagine how good that feels 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked this post, Blair, and that it encouraged you to make some changes. I was guilty of the same things you mentioned – buying cheap crap for everyday wear and saving my best pieces “for good.” As I type this in my home office, I’m wearing a favorite top and feeling good about how I look. It makes a big difference in the way I feel and if I have the clothes, why not wear them? I don’t have a lot of “occasions,” but isn’t every day a reason for celebration? I hope you cleared out the cheap stuff like you mentioned and are now wearing the items you love more. I’m cheering you on!

  15. I’m guilty of doing this. Too often, I have saved my ‘favorite pieces’ only to end up donating them brand new, because they either don’t fit anymore, or I grew tired of the style. It seems silly to save favorite pieces. After all, I’ve never had trouble finding another new favorite piece, if I shop long enough.

    I’m also guilty of labeling my clothes as ‘work wear,’ ‘weekend wear,’ ‘gear’ etc. I do think it is helpful to have a few labels to clothes, after all, what I wear horseback riding is not going to be appropriate for the office. However, there is such a thing as label overload too. I work in a moderately casual setting, so there is no reason why my work clothes can’t also be worn on the weekends. Not only does this get me to sport my favorite items more often, but it also reduces the number of capsules I need in my closet. And I have the added bonus of feeling more ‘polished’ on the weekends.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I fell into that labeling trap, too, Lisa, but a lot of my labels were related to seasons. I’m now wearing things based upon weather and temperature rather than seasons. It helps that I can fit everything into one closet now, so I can see the warm weather clothes and pull them out on unseasonably warm days, for example. I also fell into the trap of thinking certain clothes were “dressy,” when it really is more about how we style things. I now try to dress down those “dressy” pieces so they can be worn in my casual lifestyle. The truly dressy pieces that couldn’t be dressed down easily are mostly gone now. I really want to be wearing all of my clothes on a regular basis. No more saving “for good”!

      • I have also fallen for ‘seasonal clothing. Then I realized, living in a 4 season state, I would only get 3 months of wear, out of a ‘seasonal’ piece, if I am lucky! That means for 3/4 of the year, the item will sit unworn. Now I try to purchase pieces that are seasonless, so that I can sport them more often (for example, I’d rather purchase a tan blazer in say cotton with long sleeves, than a blazer with three-quarter sleeves in a linen material). I have also started wearing more pieces ‘out of season’ (such as white jeans in winter).

        • Debbie Roes says:

          That’s a good way to go, Lisa. I don’t live in a 4-season state, but I still get limited wear out of the more seasonal clothes I have (really warm tops/coats and skimpy summer clothes), as I feel the temperature changes more than most people. I’m pushing myself to layer more and wear things out of season more often as well. It makes a big difference!

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