No more repeat-wear shame

selfdrafted quilted skirt

I made a skirt in 2016. A self-drafted mini skirt, in a black quilted fabric. And I wore it for the umpteenth time to my local today.

I wore it with pride. Because I made it. Because I feel comfortable in it and because I’ve created something that is so versatile, it gets to be office wear as much as an invitation to party.

The same skirt worn with handmade M7542 lace top
The same skirt worn with handmade M7542 lace top

And it occurred to me that I’ve overcome one of the most ridiculous anxiety inducing things without really much effort at all…

The shame of being seen to wear the same thing more than once!

Social media hawks will ditch you for a lack of frock variation in your feed but that aside, and certainly before the world went online I grew up with a wince every time I had to show up wearing something I wore ‘the last time’.

And yes, people have commented. But not always bad though:

‘Oh I love that skirt/dress’.

If only they’d have stopped right there…

‘Isn’t that the one you wore to Sally’s, last week?’

And that would get me thinking about what they were thinking. How I was being judged. And then I’d get all stressed out. So unnecessary!

The same skirt worn with handmade Vogue 2934 jacket
The same skirt worn with handmade Vogue 2934 jacket

Like many families of the time, money was quite short when I was growing up and I simply didn’t have many clothes. And those that I did were almost always mum-made.

That in itself was an issue with my school friends who wanted to know where I got my skirt from. And I used to mumble “my mum made it” hoping it would go unheard. But it never was. It was amplified by an expression of sympathy. And I couldn’t ‘sit with them’ – home made clothes were simply not cool! And the comments came thick and fast. Thank goodness for school uniform – the only clothes you can not be shamed for wearing on a daily basis!

quilted mini skirt

As an art college student, the freedom to wear whatever I wanted – even if it was from a charity shop – was so exciting. But still the look of ‘didn’t you wear that, yesterday?’, from students… and ‘friends’!

And as a studio junior with a plimsoll on the first rung of the career ladder at an advertising agency. The self same thing. Only different words now:

Someone didn’t go home last night!”

Oh the horror! One thing to be shamed for poverty and assumed lack of laundry skills, but another to be tarred with the dirty stop-out brush!

The same skirt worn with handmade BHL Sarah blouse
The same skirt worn with handmade BHL Sarah blouse

And it didn’t stop at day wear. People actually remembered that you wore ‘that same skirt’ to last year’s party. Damn you long-term-memory-people!

So why now am I simply not bothered by those judgy eyes and cutting comments?

Well I kind of feel like I’ve got the upper hand now.

  • I’ve addressed some confidence issues.  Read: got older and wiser and care less about what other people think
  • I have the back up of a new society who thankfully champions sustainability – reminding me to reduce waste by only making what I need – I simply can’t ignore those giant mountains of textile waste – and  laundering only when necessary to sustain the life of the fabric and also the reduce water waste.
  • My clothes are made by me now. I’m proud of the collection I’ve amassed, of the time I’ve dedicated to make them and have absolutely no intention of ditching any garms until they are deemed irreparable or unwearable. So until that day you definitely will see many more days of this skirt. I’m shouting loud and proud at the number of times I’ve worn it (if only I could remember!)
Same skirt worn with handmade vintage wing-collar shirt: Butterick 556
Same skirt worn with handmade vintage wing-collar shirt: Butterick 556

Do you have a favourite item that makes repeat appearances or do you do battle with repeat-wear shame?

Disclaimer: The right to repeat wears does not get upheld at the expense of cleanliness! I draw the line at being remotely stinky and appreciate fully when there is a real need for laundering!

14 Replies to “No more repeat-wear shame”

  1. I’ve also gotten over the shame of wearing things more than once. I have a very modest wardrobe and it’s all me made so I don’t have the luxury of not repeating. Plus like you I’m proud of my me mades and want them to get their proper use after all the work put into them. I remember your original post on that skirt. I loved it then and I’ve loved it with everything you e worn it with and shown it on the blog. And not once did I think realky she’s wearing that again? I just think what an amazing skirt that looks amazing on you. Perhaps for me it’s also the benefit of age and not caring what people think. I will confess that I like to make anew pretty outfit as much as the next person and if I have time I’ll make one for a special event. My frosting skirt has been worn 5 times and on Instagram that many too. Have never thought once about wearing it too often. And I too draw the line and laundering when it’s needed. But really I only wash my clothes when needed not just because I wore it once. Have always been that way. I confess it never started out as a sustainablility thing. It was more well why would I wash that if it isn’t dirty. Awesome post. Thanks for writing it.

  2. I enjoy wearing my favourites as I always think how great they are that they stood the test of time/didnt wear out and how comfortable they are. I think this most likely came about from times when I wore clothes that were not quite me and they only got worn once and then felt wasteful – I do find that my me-makes seem to always be the favourites.
    I dont think I would be put out by someone noticing I wore the same thing – as when someone has passed a comment, I tend to extol the virtues of the piece and will take it as a compliment (I have a 20 year old kimono blouse that I am sure no-one wants the back story to anymore!)
    I remember noting at some wedding one person wore the same dress to this and at least 4 other mutual events – I thought it was great that she had this great go-to dress as it worked so well each time and it suited her.

    1. I like hearing that you thought the opposite of the wedding guest’s repeat wear. I think it boils down to the respect of dressmakers!

  3. I repeat wear *all* the time, I always have, although it was often out of necessity when I was younger and didn’t have the money for clothes. If I make something I like, I am going to keep wearing it – seems a bit pointless to make the thing otherwise! I am with you on the laundry too – I get so annoyed with my girls if they put something they have worn for a couple of hours in the wash just because it has been worn.

    1. Glad to be in good company! Yes my kids are pretty rubbish with that too though leaving them to do their own laundry is a little more effective!

  4. You’re so right: if you love something then wear it as often as you want! It amazes me that people notice repeat wears; although I guess it says something good about the clothes that get remembered 🙂

  5. I’m always a bit conflicted about this, because I have so many ideas and want to sew ALL THE THINGS, but it can feel a bit wasteful to make something new for every occasion. I recently went through a period where I didn’t actually have that much to wear due to a drastic change in body shape, but the biggest holes in my wardrobe have been filled by now! I’m still making new things but I’m trying to focus on making them well and learning from the process.

    1. I totally hear what you’re saying Anneke. My waistline fluctuates so I find myself making more than I need. But I’m getting close to having all I need so I’ve started making for others to scratch that itch! 😉

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