Whether you shop because it’s your favorite form of therapy or because you regularly feel it’s time to “treat yourself”, we’ve all bought a pair of something because we were convinced it was time to retire our current one. But if you find yourself having to replace what you thought were quality items more often than you’d expect, it might be time to take a step back and think about what key factors make an item last and how long can your clothes last. Once you’ve got those down, you’ll be on your way to investing in a longer lasting, more sustainable wardrobe.
Whether it be for running, sports, your walk to work or around the city, or even just special occasions, the lifespan of the shoe depends on its purpose, how often it’s worn, and the conditions it’s worn in. So, what makes a good shoe?
We know some materials like PU (polyurethane) last far longer (especially in wetter conditions) than more sensitive, natural fabrics like suede or leather. In terms of longterm environmental impact, however, it’s important to note that while leather takes around 50 years to biodegrade, PU requires about 500. But given leather does come from animal skin, another obvious point to consider would be your stance on the use of material itself.
Another aspect to look out for is how the sole is bound to the shoe. If the sole is glued, do a quick check around the edges where it meets upper part of the shoe. If you see absolutely no glue, chances are, you can count on the construction of the shoe. If the sole is stitched, look to see if you notice wax on the stitching. If a little scrape with your fingernail leaves you with no loose fuzz on the threading, that’s a solid indication that the sole is sealed and protected well.
If your dilemma isn’t how to pick out a new pair but whether or not you can switch out your current one guilt-free, a pretty general but telling sign that’s it’s time is they’re not as comfy and supportive as you remember. Also, if your shoes look particularly worn out in places that aren’t the ball of your foot or around the heal, chances are, it’s time to switch them out.
According to Wardrobe Advice, you can expect a decent quality shirt to last up to 50 washes, but plenty of factors affect that range.
Like with shoes, the quality of a shirt truly comes down to its construction. The construction depends on everything from the fabric to the quality of the buttons to the number of stitches per square inch- which all play a huge role in how long you can expect the top to last. Another fun fact: a well-fitted shirt makes a pretty big difference. If it’s too snug, it’ll likely wear more quickly.
Sweat and deodorizers don’t exactly help either, so wearing something like a tank or tee underneath your favorite top, especially on hotter days, will definitely help push it that extra mile.
It might surprise you that the most durable, high-quality jeans aren’t necessarily the ones that are made of 100% cotton. These days, blended materials seem to be the norm because jeans that include a fraction of elastic fabrics like spandex and lycra tend to be both more comfortable and durable.
Once you’ve got your hands on a solid pair of jeans, according to the International Fair Claims Guide, you can expect them to last between 2-3 years. That too relies pretty heavily on how well you treat your jeans, how often you wash them, how you dry them, and how well they fit. Here’s a simple rule of thumb to help them truly last: just follow the care label.
Most of us, though, (if we’ve been blessed to find our perfect pair) probably completely disregard that 2-3 estimate anyways and hold on to our jeans until they can no longer do us the same.
Abayas & Hijabs
Despite the seemingly endless fabric options that exist when it comes to hijabs (modal, cotton, chiffon, to name a few), everyone has their own preference that they swear by (for now). Chiffon, which seems to be the most popular these days, despite its super lightweight, sometimes sheer nature, is actually remarkably durable because of its silk/synthetic blend.
Cotton, also known to be quite breathable, fares a bit differently with time. Because it’s known to decompose fairly quickly (~5 months), it’s considered to be a more sustainable fabric. That also means, though, that it’ll likely survive fewer washes that a synthetic blend (like chiffon).
Abayas, in terms of fabric and wear, are pretty similar. It’s important to note, though, that like previous pieces of clothing we’ve touched on, the key to having an abaya that lasts longer is first, putting in the proper care to maintain it, and then also investing in one that fits well (doesn’t drag or hug too tightly).
Ultimately, creating a more sustainable wardrobe comes down to knowing what defines a good quality item and how well you care for that item over time. And if you’re like the rest of us and there’s that one top you just can’t let go of, they’re always DIY fixes to try out to add that your own personal touch.