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Loved Clothes Last: extending the lifespan of your favourite garments

"Extending the life of clothes by just nine extra months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each.


I was digging through my closet the other day and I came across an old pair of favorite jeans I was *convinced* had gone missing or had been stolen (definitely not just misplaced because I’m a scatter brains...nope). Thrilled, I put them on so quickly that I rammed my foot hard through the rips in the knees, so hard that I somehow managed to tear the pant leg from kneecap to ankle…GREAT. In a heat of pure volcanic rage, I grabbed the now destroyed jorts and tossed them towards the garbage (and missed…let’s face it, I’m no Lebron James).

Those bad boys sat on the floor near my garbage for weeks before I had the will to pick them up and do something about it.

Now, I'm hard on my clothing. I don't believe in being delicate with my clothing, and I think that good quality garments should be able to withstand my rough-and-tumble lifestyle. (That's also the basis behind (Ag)+(Au), btw...) I’m no stranger to clothing misfortune and that 'incident' definitley wasn't the first time I had ruined a perfectly good item of clothing through my own carelessness. Over the years I’ve ripped, torn, burned, stained, pilled, and just downright destroyed the clothing I’ve owned and loved.

We’ve all been through an experience where we’ve had an article of clothing or an accessory that just didn’t last. Why is that? Most people will put the blame on the company for poor quality, which could very possibly be true. But we sometimes look past the fact that it could also be us *GASP*. That’s right! We’re all guilty for the destruction of our own wardrobes. So, in the hopes of preserving the life of my clothing, over the years I’ve learned some ways to make my clothing last longer.

1. Mending.

Mending your clothes can mean a lot of different things for a lot of people. One person might think mending is slapping a patch over a rip or burn, while another might hand stitch any snags. Any way you choose to repair your items is great! For most, mending can be a giant pain in the butt, especially for those of us who just aren’t that great at it (GUILTY). Properly mending your own clothing can be a stressful and quite frankly, boring. Luckily, for (almost) everything in the world, there’s someone else who can do it for you! Find a local and reliable tailor, and BOOM, your problem’s solved! The great thing is, depending on the size, it’ll cost you barely anything and you’ll get to save the life of that t-shirt you destroyed, keeping it out of the landfill, and keeping you well clothed. WIN/WIN! 

If you want to be mega-inspired, check out the amazing shibori mending of @katrinarodabaugh

mending jeans, shashiko mending

2. Washing, or not.

I’m only going to say this once… over-washing is a SILENT KILLER for clothing! It can be easy to throw something in the wash instead of putting it away nicely (come on, we ALL do it). But something we don’t stop to think about is the effect it’s having on our clothing over the long-run. Clothes aren’t meant to be washed excessively, especially when it comes to materials like denim or anything with stretch (which is 99.9% of clothes nowadays) Now…I’m not telling you to stop washing things like socks and underwear because...ew, get real.  I’m talking about the jeans, sweaters, and shirts we wear once, toss on the floor, then assume are dirty and throw in the wash. The rule of thumb when it comes to dirty clothes: only wash them when they’re DIRTY! (I know…what a concept). Not only does over-washing shorten the life of your clothes, it is also a waste of resources like water and electricity, not to mention the danger of microplastics entering the waterstream from all the synthetic fibres in our wardrobes.  And the best test to know if something's *actually* dirty? THE SMELL TEST! 

washing machine, fashion revolution                                                                                      via @fash_rev

3. Avoiding the dryer.

DRYERS ARE DESTROYING YOUR CLOTHING!  I know they are convenient and they let you avoid that crunchy towel feeling (the WORST!) but for most items, hanging or lying flat to dry is a easy way to preserve the lifespan of your clothing. The items that benefit the most from avoiding the dryer are anything made from spandex like active wear or bathing suits, and bras. Bras are delicate items that no matter the material can lose their shape overtime, plus, those suckers aren’t cheap!  The heat from dryers melts the spandex content of clothing, making it lose its shape wayyyy faster than it would otherwise.  Also, dryers zap colour from garments, which makes your garments look dull and old way before they are ready to give up the ghost.

4. Following washing instructions.

It seems so simple…but so few do it. I won’t go off too much about this one because really, all you have to do is read the washing instructions on the inside tag of the garment. Every piece has them, and if you don't know what all the little symbols mean a quick google search will give you all the answers. If it says hand wash, then hand wash the damn thing. If it says dry-clean only, think twice before tossing it in the washing machine (though dry-cleaning is super toxic and mega bad for the environment, so maybe just hand-wash those ones too.) Easy-peasy. 

washing instructions for clothing

I’d love to be able to tell you that I mended those jorts back into something useable, but alas, they ended up in the trash. Though not my finest moment, it helped me understand the need to be more conscious of the way I’m treating my clothing, and led me down the path of learning how to *properly* care for my garments. Of course everything has a lifespan and clothing isn't meant to last forever. But the production of clothing requires a LOT of resources, and at least by learning to care for them properly, we can extend a garments lifespan and keep it out of the landfills for a little longer, giving our environment a bit of break in the process!  


xx Kait

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