Wicked Wednesday – Out with the Old…Clothes

Happy Wednesday! We’re still talking about “out with the old” as we make room for new things this year. And there’s nothing I love to purge more than clothes – mostly because that means I usually give myself permission to buy new ones. But we can talk about that later…

Wickeds, how often do you purge your closet? How old is the oldest piece of clothing you own? 

Edith/Maddie: I’m overdue for a closet purge, but the oldest item is easy. I have an indigo-dyed Japanese shirt I brought home in 1977 after living in the greater Tokyo area for two years. A friend gave it to me, and by some miracle the shirt still fits. In spring and fall I wear it around the house over a three-quarters sleeve shirt for one more light layer. It’s been much repaired and has only a few buttons left, but why get rid of something I love and can still wear? About cleaning the closet, I think we need to have traveling closet-purging parties. You come over and be ruthless in mine, and I’ll exchange the favor. Any takers?

Julie: I tend to purge once a year, around this time. My sisters call it shopping at Julie’s. Working from home has been tough on my clothes. I have a tough time letting go of work suits, but I really don’t need them as much. The oldest thing I own? Some scarves my grandmother gave me that were hers. A couple of show jackets from the 1980s. I so wish I still had some of my clothes from the 80’s, but alas…

Jessie: I purge my wardrobe fairly frequently, probably quarterly. I am trying to winnow it down to only pieces that I love and love to wear. It isn’t always an easy task, but it is very satisfying once it is done! I would say the oldest piece of clothing I have is a vintage coat that I wear when it rains. I am not sure of the age, but if I had to guess would say the 1960s or 1970s. It has a label from a Boston clothing store I do not recognize sewn onto the lining. It is orange-red, is long with beautiful seaming, and a capacious hood. It is just the thing to lend some cheer to a bleak day!

Sherry: I love the sound of your raincoat, Jessie! I’ve been doing a lot of purging the past couple of years. I swear I think things are growing in my closet because it always seems crowded. I have three shirts from the 70s — two sorority shirts that are tucked away in the basement and a shirt I saved for the daughter I hoped I’d have some day. It’s lime green with a colored rhinestone lightning bolt on it. It’s itchy so I don’t think my daughter ever wore it. I should have kept the acid-washed denim jacket from the late 80s for her.

Barb: I’ve always been good about purging my clothes. Someone told me years ago that there were never enough work-type clothes for larger women in charity shops and that has spurred me on. I have to switch my clothes winter and summer, due to storage issues and that’s when I get rid of stuff. I admit to being at a loss during the pandemic when I’d look at outfits and think, “I haven’t worn this–but then I haven’t been anywhere!” The oldest piece of clothing in my house is probably my great-grandmother’s wedding bloomers, from April 26, 1900.

Liz: I love these answers! I purge A LOT because I buy a lot…but I do have some vintage concert T-shirts – Goo Goo Dolls, which I think is my oldest from sometime in the 2000s, and Stevie Nicks from around that same time.

Readers, how about you? What are your closet-purging habits? Tell us in the comments!

16 Thoughts

  1. I have three large bags of clothes ready to go to the donation center. But first, they need to make it from the corner in the bedroom to my car.

    I purge the closet about once a year. My rule is if I buy something, I have to get rid of something. Otherwise, the closet gets too crowded. I need to facilitate having my husband do some closet purging. The man swears he has no clothes but I can barely manage to hang up his laundry when it’s done.

    As for oldest? I have a long green pullover sweater that I love and that has held up remarkably well all this time. I think it’s from the early 80s.

  2. I just donated a bag of tops/shirts. It felt good to get them out of the closet. Many were cotton turtlenecks that I probably haven’t worn in 10 years. One of my habits: if I need new hangers, it’s time to clean the closet!

  3. I purge when I can’t see the back of my closet or the floor, so yes I’ll be purging sometime this month. The oldest item is my Prince t-shirt that I bought at his Purple Rain concert tour.

    1. If I haven’t worn something in a couple of years, I’ll add it to the donate pile. I’m working on losing the COVID weight I put on, so hopefully soon there will be a few more items to add.
      The oldest thing I have is a sweater I bought in 1989. Too many good memories are attached to it fore to part with it.

  4. When I retired 7 years ago, I totally purged all my work outfits – gave away as much as I could to people I knew, then donated the rest. Felt so good! I also clean out my drawers once a year, donate or throw. I do keep special items, like my sons and my graduation gowns and t-shirts my grandkids decorated.

  5. I’m not generally concerned about purging my closet, which likely means that I am definitely in need of doing so.

    As for what is the oldest piece of clothing that I own, I’m not sure. But a lot of my clothing can be dated because I buy a lot of concert T-shirts and when my favorite sports teams win titles, I buy a Championship T-shirt. And they have dates on them. But even those are probably not the oldest items. I know I have a Celtics T-shirt that came from 2008 that I still wear.

    Unless an item is full of holes or it doesn’t fit anymore, I tend to keep it. It cuts down on me having to spend my money on more clothes.

  6. Even though I did not buy any new clothes last year, I usually purge unworn items once a year. I don’t realize how much clothes I have since my apartment has two enormous closets, a dresser & trunk. My late mom designed & sewed my wool suits and some silk blouses for work. She died in 2003 but I still have all the blazers & tops in my closet.

  7. I used to purge every 6 months. The rule was if I haven’t worn it since last season, out it goes. But I’ve gotten lazy and I’m way overdue.

    I think the oldest things I have are a couple of dresses that I’m sure no longer fit – one from my brother-in-law’s wedding and one from my grandmother’s funeral.

  8. I purge when I move – which I tend to do fairly frequently. I do still have my work clothes – although it’s doubtful if they fit. I keep saying I’m going to lose that five pounds…. and it keeps attracting friends. The oldest thing in my closet? A Kenzo skirt and linen camp shirt from the late 1970s. It makes me happy to remember where I bought them and the times I wore it, so it will stay!

  9. Not being one with lots of clothes and one who doesn’t tend to buy for myself, there’s usually nothing to purge until it’s worn out and has to go. When we downsized and built a home with only one bedroom, we also only have one closet. Now mind you it’s the size of a small bedroom with one side clothes and the other side storage that most folks put in their other closets not in the bedroom. Now that side I purge at least every two years or more often as our lives and needs change. Like this year I sold about 2/3 of the 400 plus Hallmark ornaments stored in tubs. Since we don’t put up the 7 Christmas trees any more, what I thought I’d never part with seemed more of a burden and taking up space this year – so they were purged big time. Funny how with time and age, things take on a new perspective. Now I go with the thought that if you haven’t looked at it or used it in a year – get rid of it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  10. I seldom do a real purge, I just get rid of stuff all along. But when our daughter came to live with us for a year, I needed to get all my stuff out of her closet. It wasn’t all that much, but some purging in both closets needed to be done. I was pretty ruthless. Haven’t missed a thing after two years and I’ve had the luxury of having her closet back for a year. I just don’t go that many places any more, and I’m not a clothes person to begin with. I”d wear the same things every day if they didn’t have to be washed occasionally! I’m not sure what the oldest thing I have is, but I’m sure many of my things would be considered prime items in vintage clothing stores. Just recently got rid of a blouse from the ’70s.

  11. This has nothing to do with today’s topic, but I just discovered a wonderful interview with Julie in today’s Boston Globe! Congrats, Julie on more well-deserved recognition!

    1. Having been an Air Force brat in the 70s, we moved about every 2-3 years until I was 10 so I got used to purging to get ready for the pre-move yard sales. A few years ago I helped a friend go through all of her closets and cabinets. We even set up a Poshmark account so that I could see those items she didn’t keep or donate and we split the profts. So now my family gives me the side-eye when I start asking them if they are still using/wearing something I haven’t seen out and about in a while LOL.

  12. 1975 – a dress I wore for my first office job. High neck, sleeves to my wrists, but a skirt so short I still remember having to squat down and pick up things to one side or the other because there was no way I could dare to bend forward! I keep it because of the memories.

  13. I get rid of stuff that I will never wear again regularly. I seem to have a uniform. Allison Daley jeans and Columbia fishing shirts. They are comfortable. The oldest things that I have are my mother’s wedding gown from 1941 and her squirrel fur wrap. It once was a full-length coat but as time s changed, so did it. It is now like a stole. I never wear it, but I keep it for the memories. I have some other vintage items such as my best friend’s mother’s Cashmere short sleeved sweaters and long-sleeved sweaters to match from the 1950s and other things that I have bought.

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