Clothing Dilemma

pauline13March 25, 2007

I took early retirement 1 year ago and am finally trying to clear out my clothes closet. I've already pulled out 4 kitchen trash bags worth of donatable clothing by doing the normal things such as eliminating what hasn't been worn in years and what no longer fits (for the most part). Where I get in trouble is with things that just don't look new anymore, but there's nothing really wrong with them. When I worked, a lot of my blouses and sweaters would develop pills--especially where they rubbed up against a desk all day (I have a pill remover, but it does a poor job). I have the same problem with casual T-shirts which not only pill, but also shrink in length (but can still be worn) and/or fade. If they were spotted or otherwise damaged, I would toss them, but I have a hard time tossing these less than perfect items even though I put off wearing them. I probably have at least 30 items that fit this category.

I'd like to hear where some of you draw the line on iffy items (including shoes). When do you finally toss?

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pilling can be removed with a gritty sweater stone that looks like rough pumice. cotton tea shirts won't pill.

my rule is that I have not worn a thing in a year and it is not heirloom quality- it GOES. shoes a little longer if they were expensive and classic.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 1:17PM
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If you avoid wearing them then donate them! Someone else is looking for something to wear, at a bargain price. Take the deduction on your taxes. There are software programs out there that will let you find out the value of your donated items.

This is something I continually argue with my DH about. He wants to donate clothing so old that they are really rags. Well, no one shopping in a thrift shop wants to buy a rag!! Donations of stained, holey, whatever clothing, thrift shops will trash (so throw it out yourself!), or they will sell for whatever the going weight for trash cloth.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 3:13PM
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You are doing a great job and have made a lot of progress. Congrats on t he clearing out and the early retirement.
I can relate to your dilemma(especiall with shoes). Here are a couple of suggestions, some of which I am using now or need to use now!
Challenge yourself to wear these clothes. Perhaps they won't be so bad. On the other hand after forcing yourself to wear something maybe you'll be ready to give it up.
Designate it as gardening/cleaniing/painting clothing and only keep a few tops and a few bottoms. Make yourself wear them for these chores.
Re-read what you've posted. These are pilly, have shrunk and have faded. Do you really want them in your life?
The iffy shoe category-I can really relate. I've reached my limit with wearing uncomfortable shoes. The worn ones don't bother me too much:). I will be "investing in a few pairs of COMFORTABLE and versatile shoes/sandals. Better quality and fewer of them.
Forgive yourself for the mistakes. I'm working on this one too. You didn't set out to buy clothes that were going to pill, or fade, or shrink. Let go and slowly replace with things that work?
Look at those clothes that work for you. What brands and fiber content are they? Where did you buy them? How much did you pay? As you replace items keep these answers in mind. You may find that sweaters made from natural materials pill less, or that the tshirt you bought from one store seemed to hold up better. Maybe spending more money on one item makes the most sense for you.
I do know that you will get many great viewpoints that will help you decide what to do with these 30 odd items! Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 4:12PM
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don't look new anymore, but there's nothing really wrong with them.

shrink in length (but can still be worn)

There is too something wrong w/ them--they don't look new anymore. They fit funny.

Which means that maybe even people won't want to buy them from the thrift store.

Maybe people in the world's poorest places would like them (though there is a school of thought that says donated clothing actually hurt the economy of those places by eliminating their local textile market, which should be one of the most effective ways to create economic growth there), but no one else does.

They are worn out--maybe they're not ripped, or stained, or threadbare, but they are worn out. No one wants to wear them. They are NOT NOT NOT "still good."

Congrats on all your progress, BTW!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 12:48PM
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Well I disagree with Tally that t-shirts that are too short for you are not still good. They are not good for you, but they are still good for others who have a shorter torso than you and I think people would buy them from a thrift store. I wouldn't hesitate to donate things that shrank. But don't keep them - you don't want to wear them, so get them out of your house.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 3:38PM
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If they shrank that much, they're probably also a little bit misshapen. They probably hang funny.

And if they are too short for you to wear (listen, I wear my T-shirts until they won't tuck in at the waist anymore--and most T-shirts, when new, are long enough to tuck in my 6 to 8 inches), then they must be pretty darn short! \

Unless you're 6'2" or something. A T-shirt too short for a 5'5" woman to wear are probably too short for me, a 5'2" woman, to wear.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 3:44PM
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The rules for taking a deduction changed as of last August. You can only take a deduction for household items in good or better condition. That doesn't mean I won't still donate something, just that I can no longer take a deduction.

I know my community and that guides my donations. Based on condition and possible use. We are very isolated, so people who make rugs are always scrounging the thrift stores for wool clothing we can tear apart or overdye. Condition and style don't matter. They will sell. Same with wool sweaters. More are used in felting and crafting than being reworn. When I get a bag of jeans with the knees gone, I'll list in on Freecycle for people who are making rag rugs. My T-shirts always have grease stains, so I don't donate those unless it's at the animal shelter for them to use as rags or bedding. It's very easy to cut them up and use them to check the oil in the cars or throw them in the compost pile.

DH and I rarely have any clothing I would be willing to donate. We actually wear our clothing to the point I cut off the buttons and mostly cut them up for rags. The kids clothing is a bit trickier. I will donate clothing I would be willing to purchase. The zippers all need to work, no tears or really noticable stains. Same with shoes. They need to look like they are pretty new.

I'm an avid thrift store shopper, but I rarely use the items for their intended purpose. We have such a limited range of new fabrics here, I'm not the only one scrounging. I needed to make ties for the boys for their St. Patrick's Day Irish Dance performance. I found an old graduation gown in the perfect color of green. It made quite a few ties, yet I'm sure no one would ever need to buy it for a graduation gown.

So, if you feel the items are past the point of a good thrift store donation, you may be able to find other homes for the fabric itself. My kids like to sew, so in the spring we will cut up the cotton clothing, zig-zag a few layers together and make some "camping" cloths. Five minutes and a pair of scissors and we have a year's worth of cleaning rags.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 4:12PM
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Gloria has an interesting point the different purposes thrift shops serve in different communities.

Here in NYC, I believe, few people search at thrift shops for stuff to cut up to use for other stuff. For one thing, I think they're less likely to be crafters.

In Alaska, or even in more rural areas of the continguous states, I can believe that they buy things and use them for other stuff.

So if you're in doubt, ask your thrift shop folks whether they'd want it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 4:46PM
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Thanks to everyone for the feedback. Tre3 makes some really good suggestions. I may have beem a little misleading in my wording. When I say an item (usually a T-shirt or broom skirt) has shrunk, I don't mean it's now too short for me to wear. It hasn't shrunk that much. It's just shorter than it was and I don't like it as well. When I say an item has pilled, I wonder how much is too much? Truth is, I'm happiest when an item looks new, but that look doesn't seem to last long no matter what the cost. A lot of my T-shirts are several years old and regular washing has given the colors that washed out look. Some I paid $25.00 for and some I paid $5.00 for. Price doesn't seem to effect the end result anymore. And, being hard to fit and often not liking the styles, I hate to shop; therefore, things don't get replaced as often as they should. I can already tell you that when I finish this project, there will be next to nothing left in my closet. It's a good thing I'm retired! I had a size 4 Evan Picone jacket in that closet in A-1 shape. I hate to admit how many years it's been since I've been able to wear a size 4 jacket.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 5:02PM
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Pauline we may end up with the same dilemma--no clothes or shoes. My daughters and my husband are actually a little horrified at how little I have hanging!
I always seem to get into a position where I have very few clothes. THis time I am going to acquire them slowly. I'll stock up on my white tshirts and a couple of other essentials. I have found, for me, that I wear a small number of clothes over and over. A large selection just overwhelms me and I end up making poor buying decisions. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 8:18PM
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regular washing has given the colors that washed out look
I'm feeling a bit guilty, like a broken record.

the only use these T-shirts have now is as a rag. If you have a way to send them that way, then do. Otherwise, toss them into the garbage.

If you've washed them enough to fade them, then you've gotten your $25 out of them.

And boy do I like tre3's comment about the dangers of a large clothing selection (either in the store, or in the closet). On her other thread about clothing staples, I've realized that I simply do not want to invest my energy in clothes anymore. I need to be dressed well enough, and that's all.

I did get to the point, through not liking to shop, as Pauline and tre3 said, that I literally didn't have dress shoes I could wear--I wore sneakers, and everything else was too worn or not comfortable. And all my pants were getting worn. I've had to make a concerted effort to equip myself with the required clothing.

My DD has a ton of clothes--her cheap-o dresser is in danger of breaking, that's how full it is. And yet she wears the same 6 outfits (sometimes I think it's the same 4 outfits) over and over. Why own clothes you don't wear? (hers were gifts--tags still on--or clothes she's outgrown that I haven't managed to pry away from her yet, or haven't had time to deal with)

I realize I do the same thing. I love my pink chenille V-neck sweater, so if it's clean, I wear it. Why even have the other clothes in my dresser?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 10:23AM
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TalleySue my dds pryed my favorite chenille sweater out of my clenched hands. It had gotten too unacceptable for even wearing at home (my version of loungewear!). I have not been able to find one to replace it. Guard that sweater of yours! When you find something that fits and flatters it is such a gem. I guess that why I am so impressed that Patser has the wherewithall to make multiple shoe purchases.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 2:33PM
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I have found it helpful to shop at a Goodwill regularly. Seeing such massive amounts of clothing, much of it newer and nicer than what I was struggling over, allowed me to let go. I now know where to find more Tshirts, denim shirts, etc. all prewashed and preshrunk if I need them. (I picked up a lovely Evan Piccone blouse last stop.) If you don't wear and love it, dump it.

My other wakeup call was bringing professional clothing I no longer needed to an upscale resale shop. They divide into 1)we'll take it; 2)get it cleaned/pressed/repaired and we'll take it; and 3)this, we don't want to see ever again. (said very charmingly in a way that somehow salvaged my dignity). I was surprised that so many older items, say a nice Liz Caibourne suit, fell into the third category. Because the cut was outdated. Quite worthless in the market, no matter how expensive originally or how perfect the condition.

It is a waste to hold on to older pieces that don't fit just because they were a great buy or are a good label. Styles change. That clothing gets more worthless every day. Dump it.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 6:52PM
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Celticmoon, what a great tip or way of looking at the issue. And, it makes perfect sense. I think I just needed to be a little more objective. I've read several other posts on the subject of clothing that have been particulary enlightening as well. It's helpful to be able to discuss these issues with people who don't think you are crazy because you are having so much trouble cleaning out a closet. This job gets finished today.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 10:58AM
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Pauline I hope you are enjoying your new orgainzed and decluttered closet. I'm curious...have you missed anything you got rid of?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 12:20PM
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This reminds me. I have a drawer with jeans in it that I haven't worn in at least three years. I keep them because they "kight" still fit. NOT. And how many ratty pairs of pants do I need for painting, gardening and the like?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 6:26PM
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I say you need 2 to 3 pair of garden/paint pants if you garden on a daily basis. If only on the weekends, then two pairs. Toss the rest! YEAH! Funnily I need a new pair of garden pants. I'm down to one pair. They are so worn that one knee is split all the way across. Guess I'll be going to one of the thrift stores soon!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 7:05PM
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The short answer to your question is no; I haven't missed anything at all.

And, the closet looks a million times better. It was always fairly organized, but now, I can get my hands between the hangers. Not only did I give away bags and bags of clothes, but I moved my winter things (after purging them) into a separate closet which I also cleaned out. Before that, I had all seasons of clothing together in the same closet year round.

I know I could have parted with even more, but I would truly have been left with almost no clothes if I had. Two things have happened in the last 2 years that have really affected my wardrobe needs--1) I retired and 2) I quit smoking and gained 25 pounds. Hence, in reality, I no longer wear much of anything other than blue jeans and sweat shirts or shorts and t-shirts. I live in the country and the most upscale place I now go on a usual basis is Wally World. However, I felt compelled to keep a few work-suitable items--even though I can't really fit into them. I can accept the fact that I won't fit into size 8 pants again, but I refuse to give up on size 10. I am now squeezing into a size 12 jean and only have 2 pair--the same for shorts, but I think I have 3 pair of those. I am totally unwilling to buy pants any larger than 12 and refuse to buy any good clothes as long as I am this size. I'm a real difficult fit even at a smaller size so, I hate clothes shopping anyway. I decided that giving away everything that didn't fit wasn't truly an option at this time, but I got rid of the majority.

All in all, I think I did a good job of purging and am happy with the result. If I'm not back into those size 10 pants by this time next year, I'll give in and purge again.

Now, I'm cleaning out a good size cedar closet which not only has long forgotten clothing, but every type of rarely to never-used item you can imagine. This cleaning out thing is like a chain reaction--organizing one thing requires organizing something else.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 11:20AM
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Pauline 13 the weight issue/clothes is a tough one. I'm glad you've decided on a deadline to purge the old pants. I find myself often going thru a drawer, shelf or cabinet I've already purged. On round 2, 3 or 4 I am able to get rid of more.
THe cedar closet sounds alot like my dreaded basement storage area. Trying to work up the courage to tackle it!
Congrats on the great job. I know it must bring a smile everytime you reach into the closet.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 1:11PM
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Interesting thread !!! I too have intense purging to do; luckily, one of my girlfriends has family that live to get my used stuff, I give her my things to bring to them when she visits, once a month. What they can't use, they recycle to other people in their community.

I could give the clothing to closer family but I used to do that and would then get comments such as: wow, you give away nice things, or they'd tell my husband, your wife really spends a lot, or things like that.
So my give-aways would haunt me; now I give everything to people I won't see ever.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 7:06AM
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My rule is - if I would not wear it in it's current condition, neither would someone else. I only donate clothing that I would wear if it flattered me or did not date me. For example,I have many things that looked good on me when I was 35, now it will look good on another 35 year old. I took items to a consignment shop whose rule was no clothing older than two years. My stuff was at least 5 years old - some older, but classic and in good shape. They took all 14 items; 12 of the fourteen sold. So it's not the age, it's the condition and the cut.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 4:51PM
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My rule is - if I would not wear it in it's current condition, neither would someone else


My point exactly.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 5:05PM
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Donate everything.

Some people buy things at Goodwill for the fabric for crafts, or for the buttons if they sew, with no intention of wearing the item 'as is'. That 'ol Prom dress with the yellowed underarm stains still has yards of nice velvet or satin, in the skirt that can be used to sew a little girl's dress or to make pillows or even a valance. The beading from that 80's cocktail dress can be removed and used in another sewing project.

People who work jobs where their clothing and shoes get ruined, buy stuff that may look shot to you with its "pilling" and fading", but is perfectly servicable for wearing while laying asphalt or working in sewer tunnels or working with caustic chemicals in a factory.

I am not being snarky about this. It is true. I know people with jobs like this and they are not even going to buy new cheap stuff at Target that is going to be ruined in three days. They don't even care much if it doesn't fit 'just right' or is faded or missing a button. They only wear the stuff a couple of weeks and a few washings, until it gets a hole burned in it from a caustic spill or splattered with tar or stinks so bad of sewer gas that washing it doesn't help anymore.

I used to toss t-shirts and socks but I read that thrift shops make money from selling these types of items to rag vendors. They can still make money off of rags.

A lot of people shop for vintage items, and believe it or not, what youngsters consider "vintage" is what some of us still have hanging in our closets or attics. The 70's are cool again and the 80's are bound to come back.

A lot of people shop Goodwill for items to be made into Halloween costumes. That wacky orange jumpsuit that you can't figure out why you bought it in the first place except that you were going through your 'Solid Gold Dancer' phase, will make a nice Halloween costume for some college kid. That ugly bridesmaid dress you had to wear for your sisters wedding, can be refashioned into a lovely Princess costume for a little girl for Halloween. Theater groups also shop at Goodwill for costume type items.

Believe it or not some people collect vintage undergarments, not just Victorian items like you see decorating in Victoria or Southern Living magazines. So even grandma's old girdles can be donated.

As far as donating items that are 'out of style' I don't believe in such a thing as 'out' of style. One reason I shop Goodwill is because I do not like the new styles being featured in the stores. A middle aged woman can't wear micro minis or baggy pants that hang so low that the butt crack shows. And when was the last time you saw casual skirts at mid calf length in the stores? You can't even find skirts, much less the longer ones. I have been recently shopping for a dress to wear to a summer wedding, and all I see in the stores this season, is a lot of 'baby doll' styles with high waistlines that make one look like one is wearing a maternity top without any pants. I found a simple sheath dress for $3 at Goodwill that looks mature. It still had the tags on it!! Brand new.

Donate everything, and let the buyers decide if it is 'good enough'.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 5:50PM
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Pull out a few of the most comfortable old favorites to keep for a rainy day at home, gardening or other work at home. Send the rest to the thrift shop.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 8:51PM
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