Author Topic: How long should clothes last?  (Read 12878 times)

MrsTuxedocat

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How long should clothes last?
« on: May 28, 2017, 08:28:45 PM »
I have been thinking about this topic recently. For the past year or so, I have only purchased clothes in like new condition from thrift stores and consignment shops. How many wearings and washing should clothes last? I understand that it is subjective, but I was wondering if anyone has a benchmark?

For example, last summer I bought a "new" shirt from a trendy brand and have probably worn it and washed 30 times. I doubt I have another 10 wears of this shirt and I am feeling annoyed, which bring me back to the question about clothing.


lemonde

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2017, 08:35:38 PM »
I recently bought a batch of mostly cotton shirts to give me a wardrobe of long-sleeved things (around 12). They fit me well and I want them to stay that way, so I requested my DW never put them in the dryer and to only cold wash them. We've since installed a clothesline and drying rack. I'm expecting these shirts to last 10 years or more.

life_travel

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2017, 10:39:39 PM »
 We wash all our clothes on cold wash and being in Australia , line dry ALL clothes . Never had a dryer so I don't really understand when people describe that their clothing piece "fell apart after the wash ". I never had anything that "fell apart" , some items I still have 10 years later. Most of our clothes we donate after 3 or so years, just get tired of the same look :)

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2017, 01:24:57 AM »
I'd say it depends on the material and what you are doing in the clothes. From heavy Jeans/cords which last forever to delicate tops that are just one snag away from ruining. Not sure what this says about me, but most of my clothes 'stain' out rather than wear out...yes, I've got a habit of spilling things, on the plus side I get a good supply of gardening clothes.

For officewear that goes in the washing machine, I'd expect ~200 wears, some materials are more prone to going bobbly or losing their elasticity than others. I always hang clothes to dry, and never iron and try to pick things that will cope with my clumsyness, don't need ironed yet still look reasonable formal.

As for a shirt that is falling apart after 30 wearings, that doesn't sound good....where exactly is it showing? Are there seams coming apart? Hems down? Shiny patches on fabric? Has the fabric bobbled? Actually worn out down to the threads? Lost it's shape? It might be the shirt isn't an ideal for your body or lifestyle..

Cranky

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2017, 05:33:47 AM »
I have some pretty old clothes. LOL

I think it can be pretty individual - my dh is horrible on shoes, for some reason, and always has been. We can buy him cheap shoes or expensive shoes, and they disintigrate pretty fast. Sometimes the fall apart on the top and sometimes on the bottom. We joke that he exudes some sort of foot acid.

What annoys me is how t-shirts/knit tops develop holes so easily these days. My shirts really did used to last longer, but shirts are thinner now and they all have some stretch to them. I dunno.

Dave1442397

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2017, 08:38:42 AM »
I just relegated my 1991 Lee jeans to yardwork duty. I'm still wearing T-shirts from the mid-nineties.

letired

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2017, 08:54:33 AM »
It depends on the quality of the given item, how hard you are on that item, and what kind of care you give it.

* I wash everything cold and only tumble dry 3 or 4 times a year.
* I have things I wear for 'looking nice/going to work/leaving the house', things I wear for bumming around the house, and things I wear for doing hard physical work.
* I try to stick with 'basics' from at least the Target or Gap quality level on up. Trendier items tend to be of lower quality or cheaper fabric. Items from Walmart/Forever21/etc tend to be of lower quality and cheaper fabric.
* I have a medium size wardrobe so I'm not wearing the same thing every day. Favorites are worn once or twice every 2 weeks. Less favorites are worn about once every two weeks.

I regularly have things last for 5 to 10 (or more) years. I usually get sick of wearing a thing (or 'out grow' it) before it wears out. Exceptions for me are things with thin or delicate fabric. A pair of thrift store jeans with relatively thin fabric that I wore for dirty yard work and replacing flooring have developed a small hole in the knee, and a favorite gauzy top from J Crew that I've worn extensively has started to fray on the interior neck line after ~ 4 years.

sokoloff

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2017, 09:05:04 AM »
When I switched from a top-loader (screw agitation) washing machine to a front loader, I noticed an immediate and marked reduction in the amount of lint caught in the dryer trap.

I believe that front-loading washers are easier on clothes.

I have some long-sleeve T-shirts that are just now getting retired after almost 20 years of service. Short sleeve Ts (that see more use year-round) are often good for a decade for me. Obviously, it depends on your laundry cycle. If you have 10 T-shirts in rotation and I have 30, it's not surprising that my T-shirts might last 3x as long.

No way should they be discardable after only 30 washings, though.

JLee

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2017, 10:11:08 AM »
I have free t-shirts from tradeshows and similar events that I wear frequently (not a large selection of clothes) and I've had a few for at least 10 years.  The ones I use in the gym are facing the most wear (starting to develop small holes).  We've only recently started to hang dry our clothes in the last 6 months.

Now socks...I burn through cheap 6 packs of socks in 9-12months, wigwams in 18 months and thorlos in 18-24 months.  Just bought "darn tough" socks - even if they don't last, at least I'll be able to cash in on the warranty (I hope - those things were expensive).

I've had some Darn Tough socks for over 18 months now and they're just as good as the day I bought them. I won't wear any other socks anymore.

lbmustache

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2017, 12:51:32 PM »
I find that tops last forever for me, but jeans wear out SO QUICKLY no matter what brand. My thighs rub together and I always get holes there :(

MrsTuxedocat

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2017, 12:53:39 PM »
Thanks for all your answers. For the record, I wash in cold water and hang dry all my clothing. The shirt seams are falling apart and it just looks really worn. The shirt is from Dynamite - it's a Canadian trendy store, probably equivalent to H & M.


Catbert

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2017, 01:08:17 PM »
Thanks for all your answers. For the record, I wash in cold water and hang dry all my clothing. The shirt seams are falling apart and it just looks really worn. The shirt is from Dynamite - it's a Canadian trendy store, probably equivalent to H & M.

I would expect H&M clothing to last, oh, about 30 washes if treated carefully.  Okay maybe for a trendy piece, but not something you expect to wear next year.

nereo

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2017, 01:12:48 PM »
Some good perspectives here...  I've recently realized that much of my wardrobe that's in heavy rotation pre-dates my wife, and we've been together for 7 years.
I own too many clothes so it's been hard for me to estimate just how many washings I get out of a typical piece of clothing, but I'm guessing for most tops it's somewhere between 50x-200x depending on material - lightweight cotton t-shirts seem to wear much faster than synthetics or wool.  I only own one pair of jeans at a time (I know, i'm weird by western standards) and they typically last ~3 years, and I probably wear them 2-3x/week so that's around the 400x mark.

like others i tend to wash cold and hang dry. Makes a huge difference with the longevity of clothes.

redbird

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2017, 01:33:37 PM »
Most of my clothes last for years. It really depends on how much I wear it and what I use it for though. Clothes have noticeably started lasting longer since I begun hang drying clothes in 2015.

I think the worst things for wear and tear are my DH's socks. I don't know how, but he can only go a few months after buying brand new socks before he starts getting holes in them, usually in the heel but sometimes in the toe. He ends up throwing individual socks away when the hole gets too big, and eventually he gets too low on socks and we have to buy him more. We've tried multiple brands for him. I wish there was a brand that would last longer for him.

Davids

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2017, 01:39:29 PM »
The answer is till you get fat where it is tight on you or till you lose weight when it is loose on you.

Cranky

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2017, 03:16:45 PM »
Thanks for all your answers. For the record, I wash in cold water and hang dry all my clothing. The shirt seams are falling apart and it just looks really worn. The shirt is from Dynamite - it's a Canadian trendy store, probably equivalent to H & M.

I would expect H&M clothing to last, oh, about 30 washes if treated carefully.  Okay maybe for a trendy piece, but not something you expect to wear next year.

I would not expect something from H&M or Old Navy or Target to last for 30 washings.

JLee

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2017, 05:08:41 PM »
Thanks for all your answers. For the record, I wash in cold water and hang dry all my clothing. The shirt seams are falling apart and it just looks really worn. The shirt is from Dynamite - it's a Canadian trendy store, probably equivalent to H & M.

I would expect H&M clothing to last, oh, about 30 washes if treated carefully.  Okay maybe for a trendy piece, but not something you expect to wear next year.

I would not expect something from H&M or Old Navy or Target to last for 30 washings.

I have 5 Target t-shirts that I've had since the end of 2016. They're in great shape so far, after (estimated) 15+ washes so far.

MrsPete

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2017, 07:29:27 PM »
About the time I finished college I read a newspaper article about packing for travel ... but what caught my eye was a comment that anything you buy, you should assume will last you a decade.  At first I thought, "No way.  Nothing I buy lasts that long!"  But as I considered it, I realized it was because I was buying cheap-o stuff that didn't wash well, showed its age quickly, and needed replacing fairly soon.  I started trying to buy nicer quality items, and I found that they did wash better and did last longer -- meaning that they were cheaper in the long run.  I also avoid buying trendy things.  I don't wash lightly-worn items every time they're used, and I wash almost exclusively in cold water and hang many of my tops and delicates to dry. 

What lasts me ten years:  Dresses; most of my work dresses come from Lands End (they go on sale for about $20 at the end of the season).  Sweaters, dress pants, dressy shoes.

What doesn't last me ten years:  Jeans and work shoes.  Of course, I have a small selection of these things -- fewer than most people have -- so mine are worn more frequently.

meghan88

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2017, 07:30:54 PM »
As other posters have said, it likely depends on the fabric, the manufacturing quality, and the abuse to which it is subject.  I try to wash pants and tops as little as possible.  Underwear/socks get washed after a day's use.  DH likes a fresh clean t-shirt every day.  Even still, he has t-shirts that date back to 2010.  We are careful to feel the fabric and look at labels when we buy clothes.  If it says "dry clean only" or has other fussy care instructions AND we don't think it'll survive a machine wash and hang dry, we pass on it.

Handy hint:  the older you get, the less you give a fuck about what you wear.  It's a rare perk, but one I'm happy to embrace.  Maybe stay in shape by biking and working out, and appearance-wise, that's all that should really matter.  YMMV, but a toned old person in faded clothes is in a better overall state than an overweight person in designer duds.

HipGnosis

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2017, 07:46:46 PM »
Thanks for all your answers. For the record, I wash in cold water and hang dry all my clothing. The shirt seams are falling apart and it just looks really worn. The shirt is from Dynamite - it's a Canadian trendy store, probably equivalent to H & M.

I would expect H&M clothing to last, oh, about 30 washes if treated carefully.  Okay maybe for a trendy piece, but not something you expect to wear next year.

I would not expect something from H&M or Old Navy or Target to last for 30 washings.
I read (here on MMM I think) that (virtually) all cloths sold these days are of lower quality than cloths of old. The fabric and craftsmanship.
So I went and bought 5 button down shirts from a thrift store.

Erick

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2017, 08:31:18 AM »
I use a drier and have no problems. I wear two tshirts to work pretty regularly that I've had since middles school (I'm 26). The wear and tear of working in them is starting to take its toll (I'm a production carpenter). That being said ten to twelve years of regular use seems like a reasonable amount for a short. I've found that a pear of jeans lasts about two years and I can usually strech it out to three with some mending.

PoutineLover

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2017, 09:59:23 AM »
I wash all my clothes in cold water and use a drying rack. I have some clothes that I think have lasted me about 10 years, but I've also grown since high school so not everything still fits or is still appropriate. I think it all depends on how often you wash it and wear it and what the initial condition and quality was. I expect most of my clothes to last at least a couple years.

ketchup

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2017, 10:12:12 AM »
Since I don't exactly have a ton of clothes, they all get worn very often, but they seem to last a decent amount of time anyway.

I have about 9 "business casual" shirts I wear, so that's about 40 wears per year for each.  Median age of my shirts is probably about 3-4 years, many from thrift stores.

I just a few months back retired some everyday (literally 90%+ of days) jeans that I had for about 2.5 years (originally from thrift store).

I buy about one pack of socks a year though.

I replace my (el cheapo from Costco) only pair of shoes about every two years.

I use a normal household washer and (gas) dryer.  I separate lights and darks and wash lights on warm and darks on cold.  I am usually careful to not cook them in the dryer but it happens once in a while.  I hang all my clothes in the closet (socks and underwear go on a closet shelf).

Case

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2017, 01:14:13 PM »
I have free t-shirts from tradeshows and similar events that I wear frequently (not a large selection of clothes) and I've had a few for at least 10 years.  The ones I use in the gym are facing the most wear (starting to develop small holes).  We've only recently started to hang dry our clothes in the last 6 months.

Now socks...I burn through cheap 6 packs of socks in 9-12months, wigwams in 18 months and thorlos in 18-24 months.  Just bought "darn tough" socks - even if they don't last, at least I'll be able to cash in on the warranty (I hope - those things were expensive).

I've had some Darn Tough socks for over 18 months now and they're just as good as the day I bought them. I won't wear any other socks anymore.

I have done similar, and generally love the socks.  However, adamantium they are not.  I am burning holes through all of them.  This may be linket to my gait, but on the sole/edge of my feet the wool has worn away, exposing the elastic mesh that holds them together.
That said, thanks to the lifetime warrantee, I still recommend them.

Mr. Green

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2017, 02:06:24 PM »
It's pretty standard for me to have clothes so long they become threadbare and eventually tear through. Wear something long enough and this will happen just from the friction from your skin. I find this generally takes about a decade for pieces that I wear regularly in a typical fashion (not work or gym clothes, where they are stressed more).

stashgrower

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2017, 11:11:39 PM »
For cotton I expect 5-10 years of regular wear. Definitely well over 30 washes.

TartanTallulah

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2017, 06:02:31 AM »
Handy hint:  the older you get, the less you give a fuck about what you wear.  It's a rare perk, but one I'm happy to embrace.  Maybe stay in shape by biking and working out, and appearance-wise, that's all that should really matter.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSS! I've found that too. I've never been a sharp dresser (being of short stature has put a lot of brands out of my reach - I will not, on principle, buy clothes that have to be altered to fit me and I believe in manufacturers offering inclusive sizing) but as I've got older, even before I started heading towards FI, I've cared less and less about looking a little scruffy, including at work. Provided my clothes don't have any obvious stains or holes and fit me well enough not to look stupid, they'll do.

My clothes mostly come from charity shops and seem indestructible. My daughters buy high street fashion brands and their clothes fall apart in no time and they're always asking me to do repairs and modifications. Some brands need the buttons and hems securing before they can safely be worn at all.

The answer to the original question, though, is in the realms of, "How long is a piece of string?" I agree, if I bought something new I'd be displeased if it didn't hold up for at least 30 wears and washes. But I don't know what the industry standards are.

Dee18

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2017, 09:14:22 AM »
I have some clothes that are over a decade old and still look good.  They are all made from natural materials, such as cotton.  I avoid synthetics unless they serve a particular purpose.

JLR

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2017, 02:58:50 AM »
As others have said, the quality of the clothes makes a big difference.

The other thing that I find makes a big difference is buying from the men's section over the women's section. The fabrics in the women's section (especially knits and shirts) are so thin and flimsy. They either wear out too quickly from being thin, or they fray or get pulls easily because they are so flimsy and fragile.

MayDay

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2017, 04:54:37 AM »
I own very few things, so what I own gets worn a lot.

Some of my shirts are 5+ years old. Some of my work clothes even older, but I do tend to stain things eventually.

I also change shape and style over time.  That's part of why I prefer owning only a few things. If I own four summer shirts and change shape, they will probably be pretty worn and it's no problem to replace 4 shirts.

Jeans I rotate. I buy one pair in the fall. They are my nice jeans. Last year's jeans are my ok jeans for general weekend wear. Then the two year old ones are my grubby jeans for yard work, etc. By the time they go through the third year as grubby jeans they are stained, get holes, etc.

Capt j-rod

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2017, 06:08:17 AM »
I have a good friend who embroiders shirts. We pay a fortune in society to advertise the maker's name. They sell shirts by the ounce. I usually pay $2-4 per shirt. (sometimes free if there are mistakes) I wear some Filson coats and clothes that I buy off eBay. There are durable clothes but you have to look harder for them. With jeans I have three different grades... Newer with no stains, work grade with no holes, and almost dead for bad jobs that will probably be their last. Work boots are one of the few places that I spend money. There are no good cheap boots. Your feet help you with your back and knees. I usually buy either drew's or Hawthorne boots. Yes they are $300 a pair, but they can be rebuilt and I usually spend 14-16 hrs a day in them. I wash my shirts undies and socks with every use. Jeans usually go 2-3 days. I could care less about designer anything... under armor, polo, Levis, carhart, it does nothing for me.

Rosy

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2017, 10:50:41 AM »
Thanks for all your answers. For the record, I wash in cold water and hang dry all my clothing. The shirt seams are falling apart and it just looks really worn. The shirt is from Dynamite - it's a Canadian trendy store, probably equivalent to H & M.

Brand means nothing, what matters is the quality of the material used and the quality of the garment construction itself. It helps if you have some knowledge about materials and know what to look for in the true sewing quality of the garment. How and where they placed the seams and if they cut corners in the construction.

I recently purchased a dress online from a prominent designer, the cut and construction was top of the line, but the material was some of the worst I've ever seen and once I saw it in person, it was a print identical to what one might find at Walmart in the rubbish bin. It arrived completely wrinkled - couldn't return it fast enough.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2017, 05:36:20 PM »
I wash and dry all of my clothes all of the time.  I have some "dress t-shirts" that are 5+ years old that are basically washed weekly for that time and are showing their age.  I've been trying to replace them as they seem no longer to be made but so far everything has not held up as well.  I've been recently trying out dressy work out shirts from the likes of Lucy which have shown promise but we shall see.  I'll keep my old ones until they are just plain too ratty or the new ones pan out.

As far as other cloths add me to the likely to stain before wear.

Johnez

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2017, 08:11:18 PM »
I've a pair of Dickies that are 15 years old, and quite a few concert shirts between 5-10 years old. I've a 1987 Pink Floyd shirt that I'm pretty sure is original. The more often it's washed the quicker it's destroyed. I honestly don't wash most of my "weekend" clothes because I don't sweat much in em. I'll rewear them till they stain or stink. Work shirts I'll wash after one use, pants take a week for me to wash.

Poundwise

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Re: How long should clothes last?
« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2017, 07:48:37 AM »
I just wore a cheap poly-blend t-shirt that I bought in 1990, still in pretty good shape. I wash in cold water, line dry when possible. Never use fabric softener. Never dry clean (I fear the chemicals).

In fact most of my "fancy" clothes were bought 20+ years ago. Fortunately I bought classics, my tastes haven't changed much, and though I've put on a bit of weight the tops and looser dresses still fit.

My daily wear shoes last about 2 years, though I have several fancy-wear pairs that date to the 90s, and I am still wearing a pair of Saucony sneakers from 2005. Socks also last about 2 years.

Most of my new purchases are jeans and casual wear pants, which probably last about 5 years before they get baggy knees or holes. I find that jersey/knits start looking shabby much faster than woven fabrics, so I have started to avoid knits. Also tight clothes wear out faster than loose clothes.