February swap + my outgoing pieces

We shall swap again! And to encourage wardrobe editing before the event, here’s how I think about what stays and what goes. I have to admit that it gets harder to discard things as they become fewer – these items have survived many editing festivals, so there is some function or value ascribed that has saved them before. Yet despite the reduced number, there are still garments in my wardrobe that do not live up to the standard of “would this be a part of my optimal wardrobe?”

I try to let go of fears about needing them or pondering about the likelihood of anybody wanting them. I have one historical reassurance for this and one additional mental trick. The reassurance is the story of my red denim jacket and the mental trick is possible due to the relaxed concept of my swaps. For very surprising that it is to myself, several pieces are leaving my wardrobe this time… Remember, in September all four items that left our household were not really mine.

But this time there is some honesty work to be done, bear with me as this is not easy. I have some emotional investment in each of them, either because I have worn it so much or because of the exact opposite – having worn it only a little (less than 30 times) makes me feel guilty about bad past choices. The usual stuff… Here we go:


The pink Julie cardigan

Basics: 55% ramie 45% cotton, made in China. Picked it up at swap Nº3 in May 2017, Julie’s mother in law used to own it. 94 wears since then (darn, almost #100wears).

What’s good about it: it makes every outfit look a bit like Gudrun Sjödén dressed me, which is a good thing. The color is great, the floral motif is awesome. Cute buttons, too. And it is a cheaper-made copy of the Oleana cardigans. The fabric is a bit thick, so it holds shape and has required very few washes. I’d dare to say that it is mint condition (no pilling, all original buttons) which is rare for garments I’ve worn so much.

Why not anymore: I prefer shorter and more fitted layers. This one is a roomy cut that feels a bit slouchy lately. And it is not that warm – no wool, no synthetics – which can be pro or a con in Barcelona.


The WAG crop top

Basics: made in their Cape Town workshop, 100% cotton. And nice, stiff, and beautifully patterned cotton it is. But I bought it in November 2017 and have worn exactly 10 times.

What’s good about it: the color, the pattern! And the cut is cool. Nicely covered arms, and décolletage that can be opened more or less depending on the occasion. Very nice for very high waists (or very bare midriffs).

Why not anymore: If I haven’t made it work so far, I probably wont. And, since I relaxed the waist of the skirt (31 wears, they are staying), the gap between them makes me even more uncomfortable. The waist can be made to look good in photos but in real life it’s a bit too fussy because the strings that keep it together are just that, and they move with time. So during events you might have to the powder room to readjust it. For people who like to stay still and look good, basically. Also, careful when washing! It still leaks color, so hand washing it in cold water separately from anything else is a must.


The Esprit floral

Basics: 100% cotton Esprit shirt I picked up at a swap in 2017. 51 wears since then.

What’s good about it: the pattern is cute, the fabric is lovely, the finishing on this garment is a joy in itself. Mint condition still.

Why not anymore: the cut! It has taken me a long time to admit that this beautiful thing is not my size, not fitted enough. I keep having this with button-downs for years now: I want them but then my body reminds me that these things are cut (almost) straight, and, if I don’t want the usual problem of popping buttons, I need them big. And I don’t like big…


The Zara lace top

Basics: bought in a Humana in Oporto last September to calm an ‘I want a thing’ anxiety. Zara. Made in Portugal, unknown composition. A cotton/elastane mix, I’d guess. 15 wears since then.

What’s good about it: an easy black top that covers the waist with lace hem adding some interest.

Why not anymore: the cut is weird or, well, innovative! Sleeves are part of the torso piece, and there is an additional seam on the back. And I can already see some pilling and where exactly the first armpit hole will happen. Taking into account that I bought it with the tags still on, this a classical ‘why you really don’t want certain fast fashion garments’: they look good at the beginning but then age very quickly.


A ‘maybe’! The green patterned top

Basics: Oh, wow…bought in a Humana during my first trip to Barcelona in 2005. No brand tags, no composition tags (but purely synthetic), no ‘made in’ tags. 39 wears since 2016, quite some more before that.

What’s good about it: it looks great! And is one of very few synthetic garments that does not asphyxiate me. And it is so worn in it feels like home… Look, look, a highschooler me in April 2006:

Why not anymore: the shoulder points… this is a beautiful boat neckline that would require a strapless bra to be proper. My bra straps keep peeking out, even after I put sewed some holders in (like so). Also, the wear is considerable. The elbows have lost the pattern and are basically white. And I see some future holes coming… It has received some fixes before, because 14 years for a second-hand garments is a lot. I still have a couple of days to decide, though.


What is your inner dialogue before retiring garments? Is it more separating pains for the old friends or guilt for those that never really became friends?

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