A commenter on one of my recent essays inquired about how old the items in my closet are, which got me thinking about that topic. Way back in 2015, I wrote a post showing the items I owned that had been around the longest and what some of the common features were among those pieces. I think it’s high time for me to revisit this subject, but rather than publishing another marathon-length post, I’m going to split it out into three parts (with the potential addition of a “wrap-up” essay as well).
I’m starting today with the very oldest clothes and accessories in my wardrobe, items that have been with me for ten years or longer. I show pictures of all of them and discuss why they’ve stood the test of time, how often they get worn, their common features, and what I see as their future in my closet. In parts two and three, we’ll look at other “oldies but goodies” that haven’t been around quite as long but have still been with me since 2018 or earlier.
The Oldest “Oldies but Goodies”
Based on the wardrobe tracking that I’ve done, the twelve items shown below have been in my closet for over ten years.
It’s possible that some of my jewelry pieces are even older than the items above, but I didn’t start tracking jewelry purchases until the beginning of Recovering Shopaholic in 2013. I didn’t do much wardrobe tracking at all until the inception of that blog, but I’ve been able to compile data on the origin of most of my clothing via my accounting software program.
I’ll delve into the individual pieces later in this post, but here’s how the items break down by category:
- 2 cardigans
- 1 dress
- 2 sleeveless tops
- 4 long-sleeved tops
- 3 purses
Almost all my longtime items were purchased new, but the black sequined tank was bought at a local consignment store back in 2012.
Here are the brands for the members of my “decade club”:
- Eddie Bauer (all four of the long-sleeved waffle tops)
- Brighton (all three of the purses)
- Kische (the two cardigans, purchased at Nordstrom)
- Eileen Fisher (the dress, purchased at Nordstrom)
- Halogen (Nordstrom brand)
- Kenar (the sequined tank purchased at a consignment store)
I feel these are all quality brands, or at least they were at the time. I own several other Eddie Bauer waffle tops that were purchased more recently, but they haven’t held up quite as well. Likewise, I feel that the Nordstrom in-house brands, such as Halogen and Caslon (I wrote about tees from that brand last year), have declined in quality. Sadly, I feel that if I do a post like this one ten years from now (assuming I’m even still blogging!), I may not own even one item that’s over a decade old. Because clothing doesn’t seem to be made as well as it once was, I plan to hold on to – and “baby” – my older items that I still love and wear for as long as possible.
Cost Per Wear Information
I counted clothing wears from 2011 through 2018 and maintained a spreadsheet of all the items in my wardrobe. That spreadsheet also referenced whether a piece had been altered, the number times I wore it each year, and its cost per wear (CPW) over time. I didn’t include purses in my tracking, but I know that all three of my Brighton purses from ten or more years ago have been at least a hundred times (and probably much more for at least one of them) and have a very low cost per wear number.
As for the other nine items, here are my stats for the years when I was tracking (listed from left to right, top to bottom as shown in the above photo):
- Black Kische Cardigan (purchased in 2010) – Worn 71 times, $0.56 CPW
- Black Kenar Sequined Tank (purchased in 2012) – Worn 16 times, $0.75 CPW
- Blue Print Eddie Bauer Waffle Top (purchased in 2013) – Worn 31 times, $0.90 CPW
- Burgundy Kische Cardigan (purchased in 2011) – Worn 71 times, $0.62 CPW
- Burgundy Print Eddie Bauer Waffle Top (purchased in 2013) – Worn 30 times, $0.93 CPW
- Cobalt Eileen Fisher Dress (purchased in 2013) – Worn 14 times, $12.86 CPW
- Green Eddie Bauer Graphic Waffle Top (purchased in 2010) – Worn 60 times, $0.50 CPW
- Gray Print Halogen Tank (purchased in 2010) – Worn 16 times, $2.75 CPW
- Purple and Gray Striped Eddie Bauer Waffle Top (purchased in 2009) – Worn 45 times, $0.78 CPW
Since I stopped tracking wears at the end of 2018 and have worn most of the above items many times since then, their CPW is likely much lower than the figures stated above. But even my end of 2018 CPW numbers were mostly under a dollar, which I feel is very reasonable and respectable.
The two outliers in the group in regards to CPW are the Eileen Fisher dress and the Halogen tank. I believe that the tank is probably down in the dollar CPW range by now, but that’s definitely not the case for the dress. The dress was relatively expensive from the outset ($180), which makes it more difficult to reach a low CPW number. Additionally, it didn’t fit me for several years due to menopausal weight gain, so it was rarely worn (if at all) in the years following 2018 (and only once per year in 2017 and 2018). It was never something that I wore often, but I felt attractive and confident in it each time I had it on. While I’m not thrilled with its high CPW, I think it’s okay for us to own some “specialty items” that aren’t worn as regularly as our wardrobe staples. I’ll share my thoughts on the potential future for the dress in the next section.
The Current State of My Oldest Items
Now I’m going to go through the twelve oldest items in my closet individually to let you know their 2023 status and how I see myself wearing – or not wearing – them in the future. I’ll review these items in several sections, with pictures appearing above those reviews so you don’t have to scroll way back to the photo of all the items at the top of this post.
The Waffle Tops
We’ll start with the four long-sleeved waffle tops from Eddie Bauer. These tops have mostly been downgraded to at-home wear, but I did wear two of them during my trip to the Tahoe area last November. They’re all still in fairly good condition, but the green and purple ones are noticeably less pristine now (they’re a few years older).
I like to wear these waffle-weave tops at home during the cooler months, as they’re sufficiently warm and pair well with the many pairs of joggers that I own. I don’t wear them quite as often as my Tommy John Lounge Henley tops (that I wrote about in this post), but they still see a decent amount of wear. I see myself hanging on to all four of these tops for the foreseeable future and only plan to purge them when they become so worn out that they look “shabby.” I prefer not to wear shabby-looking garments, even when I’m at home, especially when I have plenty of other things to wear.
Like the waffle tops covered above, these two cardigans are still in great shape. While they’re no longer among my absolute favorite toppers, they’re extremely lightweight and are a good topper for the summer months when a very light layer is sufficient. The length is also good with the cropped pants that I like to wear that time of year.
I would say that I wear each cardigan five to ten times per year, if that, but that’s enough wears for me to keep them around for now. I mostly prefer cardigans that are a bit longer these days (mid-thigh to knee length rather than low-hip length), but these Kische toppers come in handy often enough that I feel they still serve a valuable purpose in my closet.
The Sleeveless Tops
The black sequined tank is still a summer favorite, especially after I had it taken in last year so that it fits me better. It’s comfortable and casual, but the front sequined panel and trim around the neckline makes it a step above an ordinary tank top. It’s still in excellent condition considering how long I’ve owned it, but that’s a testament to the quality of the brand (a lesser-known designer brand called Kenar that was probably fairly pricey to buy new). I see myself keeping this top for at least a few more years.
The gray print tank used to be full-length, but I had it altered to pair with skirts four or five years ago when it was too snug in the hip area. That alteration extended the top’s lifespan, but since I went off wearing skirts for a few years, it mostly hung in my closet gathering dust during that time. My interest in skirts returned last year with the introduction of more styles and silhouettes that I felt I could embrace. I like to pair this tank with a black midi or maxi skirt and then wear a brightly-colored tie-waist cardigan as my third piece. I still love the watercolor print in the tank that coordinates nicely with most colors, so I don’t seem myself passing it on anytime soon.
I feel more uncertain about this Eileen Fisher dress (pictured with times I wore it in 2015 and 2017) than most of the other items shown in today’s post. I loved it when I bought it in 2013, enjoyed wearing it for the next five or so years, and then kept it in my holding zone bin for about five more years because it didn’t fit me well. I was happy to discover that it fit me once again last year following my weight loss, but my silhouette preferences had shifted and I felt it was too “flared at the bottom (which isn’t as obvious in the photos as in real life). At this point, I’m trying to decide whether to have it taken in a few inches or to sell/donate it.
The “pros” for the dress are that I love the color and the asymmetrical design, plus it’s a great weight for summer. The one major “con” is that I don’t love it “as is” and alterations can sometimes be risky. One reader mentioned that Eileen Fisher pieces have a good resale value, so I could potentially make a bit of money by selling it online.
I’ll probably try the dress on again once the weather warms up and make my determination then. I might also take the dress in to my tailor to see how easy or difficult it might be to do an alteration. Because I’m one of her “pickiest” customers (perfectionist to a fault -sigh…), she’s now a lot more honest with me about whether she thinks I’ll be happy with a potential alteration.
The middle purse above (pewter and black combo) is still a major favorite of mine and is one of the two handbags that I carry most often. The purse on the left was actually brown at one time, but I had it dyed black when brown went out of favor and I decided that I no longer liked it. My mom had this purse for a few years, but she gave it back to me during one of my recent visits. I still like the design, but the purse doesn’t have as much structure as I usually prefer. I don’t tend to reach for it as often as my two favorites, but I’m going to switch over to it shortly so I can decide if I want to keep it or not.
The pewter bag isn’t used all that often, but it comes in handy sometimes during the summer when I’m walking around and want to carry a smaller and lighter bag. If it were black or had more black in it (there’s some in the handle) like the purse in the center, I’m sure I would use it more often, as I wear black most days. However, it’s good to have for when I’m wearing lighter colors, as well as when I don’t want to carry a heavy bag.
I know that I’ll hold on to the pewter and black bag for many years to come. In fact, I had it refurbished last year via the free service that Brighton offers for all their handbags. I’m not as sure about the other two bags, but I’ll see how much I use them throughout the rest of this year. I’ve pared down my handbags considerably in recent years, such that I now only have a very small collection. This is part of the reason why adding one or two new purses to my closet is one of my wardrobe “bucket list” items for this year. I didn’t realize my purses were as old as they are, but I’m happy that they’re still in good shape and some of them are still in line with my style preferences.
Conclusion – and Your Thoughts?
Well, I guess this post still ended up being fairly long, but fortunately not a marathon! I probably won’t go into as much detail about each individual item in parts two and three, especially since I’ll be covering more items in those essays. I hope you’ve found this exploration of my oldest wardrobe items interesting, and perhaps it prompted you to examine your own closet to see which pieces have been hanging around the longest.
I’d love for you to share what some of your “oldies but goodies” are and how long you’ve owned them. Any details you’d like to provide are welcome (I wish you could post photos in comments here!), and I also welcome anything else you’d like to share about this post, including any questions you have for me.
I’ll be back soon with part two of this series, which will cover all the items that have been in my closet for seven to nine years. Since there are a larger number of pieces in that collection, there will be more opportunity to analyze what they have in common and why they’ve stood the test of time so well. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful weekend!
20 thoughts on “The Oldest Items in My Closet: Part One”
I’m getting ready to leave on a trip in a couple of days, but your post has me so intrigued, I had to investigate how my own wardrobe stacks up, in terms of age. So here goes.
Owned and worn 7 items (4% of wardrobe) for 10 years or more, including:
• Brown Merrill sandals that are super comfortable and look good with some jeans and shorts.
• Taupe gladiators from Talbots. I know they’re not current, but I love the color and the ¾” wedge heel.
• Lt. gray/silvery knee length, hooded, quilted rain coat from TJ Maxx. It’s kind of a statement coat for someone like me who doesn’t like to make much of a statement.
• Soft-ish royal blue and white scoop-neck printed T from Ann Taylor. LOVE it.
• White with green stripes T, also from Ann Taylor. LOVE it. (I don’t put either T in the dryer and they seem to be lasting forever.)
• Light teal zip-up hoodie from Liz Claiborne Outlet store (It’s showing its age, but I love the color.)
• (Trouser-type) brown cords from NY & Co. (Only thing I’ve ever bought from them. Wore them to my class reunion in November and on Christmas Day. LOVE them.
Owned and worn items 32 items (19% of wardrobe) for 5 years or more. These include 6 tank tops, 5 T-shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs black pants, 2 half-zip fleeces, 1 sherpa type jacket, 2 dresses, 2 sweaters, 3 sandals, 2 flat shoes, 2 purses, and 3 outerwear pieces
BTW, old Ann Taylor T-shirts will be traveling with me in the next couple of weeks, and I have no doubt I’ll wear them!
Thanks, Debbie for the new perspective. I’ve often thought I like my “old” stuff more than the new. I need to investigate why… I’m also surprised that most of my oldies but goodies were relatively inexpensive. That could be because I only fairly recently started buying the more expensive and (often) sustainable brands, but I’m wondering, is that really a step up or even more sustainable–for me? Hmmm
Thanks so much for taking the time to share all of your items that are 10 or more years old, Jenn, especially since you will be leaving on a trip soon. I actually thought I would have some shoes that are 10 or more years old, but no… Some will show up in my parts two and three, though.
I’m glad you have a lot of wardrobe pieces that have stood the test of time. If you come to any conclusions about why you like the “old” stuff more than the new, please share them here. I will be pondering that and other things regarding the “oldies but goodies,” too. It looks like you have some great pieces that have served you well for years. May you continue loving and wearing them for the foreseeable future! Have a wonderful time on your trip. I hope the time away will do you good, as I know you’ve had a very difficult time lately with the loss of your dad.
Just checked my lists Debbie! This is a favourite topic of mine and I have been considering doing a thread for YLF about this. For my counting, I don’t count handbags as I use the same one almost every day. I count clothing and shoes, not underwear or sleepwear or gardening clothes. I have 27/148 counted items that are over 10 years. Only 4 are shoes. Two pairs from 2011 and two from 2012.
The oldest item is a very bright sweater from a German brand Mondi that I spent serious money on in 1986 when I was first earning decent money. The most I have ever spent on knitwear. Still looks in great shape after at least 80 wears.
So 18% of my wardrobe is over 10 years.
You’re doing great with your wardrobe longevity, Jenni! I hope you do a thread on this topic on YLF (I lurk there sometimes…). It’s always an interesting subject to me. I’m so impressed that you still have a sweater from 1986 that’s going strong after 80-plus wears! I’m also impressed that almost 1/5 of your wardrobe is 10 or more years old. You must buy quality pieces AND take good care of them. I’m wondering if clothing is made better in NZ than in the US (although most of what we buy here is made in China and other Asian countries). I wonder if your recently-purchased pieces are holding up as well. I’ve found that NOT to be the case for my wardrobe, which I’m sure I will delve into in my upcoming posts.
My daugher–a very chic and very tall artist–wears dresses like the Eileen Fisher over wide legged pants, either cropped or full length. I’ve adopted the look myself–shorter than you and older! It takes getting used to, so try not to reject out of hand!
Thanks for sharing this, eg. I’ve seen a lot of great artist-type outfits that I appreciate. I haven’t delved into that type of style much myself, but I like to keep an open mind. Maybe I’ll try wearing the EF dress as you described and see what I think.
I think in recent years that quality has taken a huge dive in clothing across all price levels. Cotton is hardly ever the main fiber, sweaters seem like they’re made out of plastic yarn.
My long time items are:
1) Wide legged trouse jeans (Gap) – the key here is that I only dry clean them and they stay nice
2) Brass colored aviator pants (H&M) – another dry clean only item
3) Black microfiber Pea coat (LL Bean) – at this point worn, but still a perfect weight for transitional weather
4) Heavy winter coat (Eddie Bauer) – I only need a really heavy coat a few weeks out of the year, and how much does parka fashion change?
5) stuffable down jacket -pink (uniqlo)
6) Pink utility jacket (Gap)
8) tan/pink/black poka-dot blouse – my most successful Nordstrom sale purchase ever. I had such bad luck with that sale I don’t shop it any more. It has a drawstring neckline, can be tied in a bow or left open and oddly the colors go with a ton of things I own.
9) Burgundy “Hamptons” tote bag (Coach) – I got this from my employer as a gift for a service milestone
Most of these are things that I bought without a lot thought. I saw them, knew they were my style and bought them, The blouse from Nordstrom was a quirk, I was in a mood to buy something and ended up with that blouse. The pink uniqlo jacket doesn’t fit perfectly -I’m too curvy for a good fit in uniqlo- but I love the color and weight of the jacket makes it something that is unique in my closet.
The Hampton’s tote is an odd thing. I got a gift certificate as a service award and I needed to spent it at the Coach store (I think I picked Coach as a part of the award), so I ended up with a large bag. It’s pre-logo mania Coach and I really like it, but I haven’t really used it that much. Last week I was reading about one of the Olson twins who has a Hermes bag that she drags around everywhere and that the bag looks all beat up but it’s cool because people who own that bag often keep it wrapped in it’s dust bag in their closets — like my Coach tote. So I’m thinking instead of letting that bag age in my closet, I should get that out and carry it. Unlike the Olson twin I will give it a coat of shoe polish before venturing out with it.
Thanks for sharing your longtime items, Rose. Lots of jackets/coats in the mix there. Interesting that you bought most of these items without much thought, which is a testament to your having a firm grasp on your personal style. I’m glad the “quirk” Nordstrom sale buy ended up being a workhorse for you.
I definitely think you should get out your Coach tote and carry it. I wrote a post years ago about “saving things for good” (https://recoveringshopaholic.com/2013/10/28/saving-clothes-for-good/), which is a common practice for many people. It’s not necessarily a GOOD practice, though, as many of those items don’t end up being used often, or at all, as most of us don’t have a lot of formal/fancy occasions in our lives. So, spruce up that tote and enjoy carrying it! I agree with you that newer items don’t have the quality that things once had, so all the more reason to use our older pieces that we still love. They will likely hold up better than we think!
Debbie, How old are my clothes? Well because of gaining weight they are all 3 years old or less BUT my accessories like my brass bangles & brass earrings go all the way back to 1984 in High School !!! I have purses that are of course leather that are 30 years old!!! I ADORE accessories!!! I have some from my mom that go back to 1950’s from formals!!! I Love antique jewelry!!!
That’s impressive that you have accessories from way back in high school, Natalie! I think we’re the same age, but I don’t own anything from that far back. I do have a few watches that are quite old, but I haven’t been wearing watches recently because I’m wearing a Fitbit (which isn’t nearly as pretty as those old watches). How wonderful that you have some antique jewelry from the 1950’s. What a treasure!
This is an interesting topic, Debbie. I’m impressed that those EB waffle tops have lasted 30-60 wears! I am surprised to see any tops make it ten years, but the tops of ten years ago are probably as a class better quality than the tops of today, sadly.
I don’t have any clothes that old (due to significant body size change) but I do have a purse (my only one), a few pairs of shoes, other accessories, and a water resistant wool cape (which was a vintage piece when I bought it over 25 years ago!) in that category.
I vote that you try to sell the EF dress since I agree with others that those items can have a good resale value. I question whether a tailor could change the silhouette to be less flared and have it still drape right.
I seriously doubt that any of my newer waffle tops will make it to the ten year mark, Sally. Things just aren’t made as well these days. Even my waffle tops from a few years later aren’t as well-made, although I still have them and are wearing them (will be featured in parts two and three). It sounds like you have some great pieces that have been with you for a while, even if none of them are clothes. A change in size fortunately doesn’t impact accessories or shoes (usually). You’ve done very well with acquiring a great wardrobe in recent years, with lots of beautiful colors (to others who are reading, check out Sally’s blog!).
You may well be right about the EF dress. I have a bunch of other items to list for sale, but that dress might be added to the list. Since it’s currently out of season (too cold for it now!), I have kind of been “tabling” it, but I agree that it could be a tricky alteration. I have had dresses successfully tapered in the past, but they were more of a straight style, which is easier to do.
I came across this post because humorously yet seriously I was searching Google to see if there was a such thing as a “functioning shopaholic” much like how there’s such thing as a “functioning alcoholic” or “functioning drug addict.” I initially found “The Recovering Shopaholic” which led me here. Anyhow, the reason why I use the term “functioning shopaholic” is because I don’t feel that I identify as a Shopaholic or…maybe I’m not 100 percent sure.
I’m not to the degree where I’ve maxed out credit cards for the sake of shopping, had to file bankruptcy, or my home was on the verge of foreclosure, or I had overdue bills and pretty much any and every responsibility went by the wayside just so I can have money to shop…that’s not my situation. However, do I love fashion, yes, and I love style even more. I am a sucker for thrifting because my style dictates that I thrift. I’m also big on online shopping since it has become very convenient with many more options at your fingertips and it’s open 24/7 . Yes, I’ve heard many protests over shopping certain websites. But frankly, I figured that’s a cause for the government.
I have closets (yes plural) FULL of clothes indeed of which my main closet is a spare bedroom and I have plenty to wear. There’s nothing in my closet that I do not like or love but I do purge when I feel it’s necessary. Otherwise, for the most part, considering I have a massive wardrobe that has accumulated over about two decades, I’ve learned to shop my closet and it’s a good thing I prefer vintage and dated/classic styles accordingly. I like retro and over-the-top looks too especially when it comes to shoes and this is how online shopping suits me most.
Now, the other side to all of this is I DO tend to go thrifting or online shopping when I’m bored, need an escape, need to lift my spirits, shop to celebrate something no matter how big or small, or when triggered at times after watching someone’s online shopping haul or thrift haul on YouTube. Many times I can and have window shopped and walked out with absolutely nothing. Other times I have binged shopped after going on a shopping hiatus for a long stretch of time.
So indeed, I like shopping but…I’m not sure if I am necessarily deemed a shopaholic though based on face value people perceive me as such and I’ve questioned myself (and my husband, lol) if I could be… that’s when I considered the concept of “functional shopaholic.” So that’s my story and my truth and triumph I suppose.
I don’t shop or have as much as you or for the same reasons. We aren’t in debt. I stay within our budget. But I consider myself a shopaholic and so are you!!! Your just in denial!!!
Yes… the thought crossed my mind that I could very well be in denial. Hence of anything, I figured I may fall within my “functional shopaholic” moniker 🤷♀️.
I would say that fits me & you!!
Welcome, Ikanony. I’m glad you found my previous blog and this one. Thank you for sharing some of your story with me and your fellow readers. I hope you have found some useful guidance among my various articles. Only you can decide to what degree your shopping is a problem in your life. I do think one can be a “functional shopaholic,” and I also believe that many people who have shopping problems tend to minimize it. I received countless comments and emails that began with “I’m not a shopaholic, but…” A lot of people don’t want to admit they have a problem, whether it be with shopping or any other type of behavior.
This self-assessment from the Behavioral Cents website might be helpful to you to help determine the degree to which your shopping is negatively affecting your life:
Click to access Valence-Richmond-Self-Assessment-on-Compulsive-Buying.pdf
There IS a difference between liking clothes, fashion, and shopping and having a true shopping problem/addiction, but there can also be a lot of overlap. And one can go in and out of having a dysfunctional relationship with shopping, too. I still consider myself to be a RECOVERING shopaholic, as I am prone to experiencing period of relapse when I’m dealing with a lot of stress, life difficulties, and grief, as shopping is a coping mechanism for me.
Having a large wardrobe and going shopping often do not necessarily mean that one has a shopping PROBLEM, and you may or may not be in denial. Natalie may well be right, but only you can determine that. Check out the Behavioral Cents website resources page (https://behavioralcents.com/resources/), as well as my “Start Here” page on Recovering Shopaholic (https://recoveringshopaholic.com/start-here/ – you may have already seen this) for more information that will hopefully help you.
I hope you will stick around and comment again. You’re among friends here, and many of us identify with what you wrote and would be happy to help you along the way if needed.
I think I have the opposite problem of many contributors! I feel the dopamine rush when I discard and when I do not buy something I think I might like or could use. Anybody else? We humans are complicated! 😏
Fascinating observation, Gail – I can definitely see how the dopamine rush from purging items could occur, and I wonder if that helps fuel the buy->purge->repeat process for some people!
Thanks for your input, Gail. I agree with Sally that one can get a dopamine rush from EITHER buying or purging, and yes, it can definitely fuel the buy–>purge–> repeat cycle for some people (including me). This is part of the reason why I like to move more slowly with purging my wardrobe and also maintain a “holding zone” so I’m not too hasty in letting things go. I can buy too hastily AND I can purge too hastily, so I have to be careful on both fronts. Those dopamine rushes can be very compelling! Yes, we humans are for sure very complicated!
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