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My 20 year old socks and other long-time-service clothing

Posted by on Tuesday 15 February 2011 in anti-consumerism, frugal | 5 comments

Yesterday, Ilona on Life After Money was talking getting her money’s worth out of things – and referred to some really old underpants she owns. It got me thinking about my elderly underwear.

I have some knickers I bought when I first started going out with John. We’ve been together for nearly nine years. I bought a pair of knickers with a penguin on it and another pair with a cat – the penguin ones are a little scruffy but the cat ones are still almost my favourite pants and are still in regular circulation – worn probably about once a fortnight and still going strong.

Elsewhere in my underwear drawer, I’ve got some slipper socks from my mid-teens (about 15 years ago – someone dropped a BNWT pair in my mum’s shop and after sitting in their lost-and-found box for a while, I was the lucky recipient of them) and a pair of novelty socks that my childhood neighbour/friend Katie bought me one Christmas. I can’t remember what year it was exactly when she bought them for me but I suspect it was when we were about 11 or 12 (19/20 years ago). They’re getting a little bobbly and threadbare on the heel now but still wearable – and still worn regularly. I’ve never worked out what sort of animal is ice skating though – a brown penguin? a bear?

Most of my visible wardrobe is newer – because of changing styles (I’m not exactly a fashionista but my style has definitely evolved over the last couple of decades – shell suits were in style when Katie bought me those socks!) and because of changing body size – but I still wear a black wool cardigan I bought when I was 16 (and a UK size 8) even though I’m now 31 and … um, not a size 8 by any measure! I’ve also got a tiny sundress I bought the week of my 18th birthday which I still wear – it’s bias cut so stretchy so works as a long top for underneath a jumper.

All but three of John’s jumpers pre-date our relationship and he’s got some t-shirts from when he was about 14 or 15 – including one that feels like silk now, it’s been washed that much!

Do you have any clothes in regular circulation that are due a long-term service award?


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  1. rob cornelius

    I have a rugby jersey I bought from Greenpeace about 20 years ago. Its indigo dyed cotton and is now the palest blue and soft as you like. I wear it at least once a fortnight. I reckon I have several pairs of underwear that are at least 10 years old, though I tend to go through socks at a tremendous rate. I think my oldest item though is a Marks and Spencers tshirt that is at least 25 years old. Its made of material thats not unlike the stuff polo/golf shirts are made of except a lot tougher obviously.

  2. Taphophile

    I just threw away a pair of 25 year old slouch socks. The elasitc had finally given up. I have some of the handknitted cardigans that my mother made for Dad. Some are more than 30 years old. And a mohair cardigan that was an aunt’s. It about 40 years old. Handknits, well cared for, last forever.

  3. sara

    HAHA..you and my hubby would get on great..he has tank tops from when we first met..thats 25 yrs ago and he won’t part with them..the only thing i have is my wedding veil and headress..but they are wrapped up nice and safe..the oldest thing that i do wear is england rugby shirt..it got me through 4 pregnancies lol..big and comfy..still brilliant white..

  4. louisa

    Hi guys,

    rob: great long-service clothes collection – that Greenpeace jersey sounds like it’s certainly improved with age.

    Taphophile: I’m going to keep that “handknits, well cared for, last forever” sentiment in mind next time I’m justifying buying some expensive yarn – great point :)

    Sara: 25 years for tank tops? good going that man!

    I realised last night that John’s collection of vests also pre-date our relationship – they’re losing their shape a little now but they’re vests so it doesn’t matter that much, and they’re super soft after so many washes. (Also, I tie-dyed some of them last year so they’re fun colours now!)

  5. Su

    Due to my incredibly varying weight, I have very little clothing that is old. However, I do own a coat that is at least 20 years old, that I inherited from my mum, until recently it was in superb condition, unfortunately, the kitten thinks it’s great to climb up and as a consequence she is shredding the lining! I also have a Friends of the Earth t-shirt that is about 12 years old and still looks like new. Lastly, a pair of leather boots, bought for a fiver at the very end of the sale, about 8 or 9 years ago, which I love, unfortuanetly, they cost £7.50 to get re-heeled! Still cheaper than buying a new pair though.

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