slow fashion october

slow fashion october: longworn – casual clothes vs work clothes

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When I thought about my most well-worn clothing, I had assumed that I’d be thinking mostly about my casual clothing. My wardrobe is pretty clearly divided into casual and work clothing, as my style starkly changes between them. My work style can be defined as rather – dresses, skirts, cardigans, flouncy blouses. My casual wardrobe is on the opposite end, as it’s pretty boyish. The goal is as much comfort possible, with a bit of coolness thrown in. So I thought that most of my older clothing would be on the casual side.

I mean, the oldest piece of clothing in my wardrobe sure is casual! This hoodie is about ten years old now, and I still love it so so much. It’s all faded and pilled now, but the fit has always been perfect. It’s loose but the fabric drapes enough so it doesn’t look all sloppy. The color goes with everything. There’s some weird writing on the back, but having strange English phrases on your clothing has always been hip in Japan. It’s a part of Victoria’s Secret PINK line, and it was a gift, which is funny because I probably never would have thought to buy a hoodie from Victoria’s Secret. But it ended up being perfect. Also reasonably well-made too, as there’s no holes or loose seams, and I haven’t exactly been gentle with it.

But as I looked through my clothing, I was surprised to realize that the rest of my older clothing is mostly work clothing. I have a lot of stuff that’s about four or five years old, which is just mind-bogglingly to me, because wow? Has it really been five years? It all still looks pretty good, which is why I still wear it.

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I wore this outfit to my first date with my husband, and I loved this outfit so much! I still wear it, but I’m pretty bored with it to be honest – which is the hardest part of keeping clothes for a long time, I find. Plus, while I love floral prints, but I’m trying to move away from them, because I’m almost thirty and I’ve been wearing floral for almost 7 years now to work. I don’t subscribe to the idea that you have to dress differently just because you’ve entered into a new decade of life, butttttt… Floral does make one look young. I kind of want to move towards a more sophisticated look at work. But I don’t want to get rid of this dress, even if it doesn’t fit my casual style either.

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This skirt is about five years old, and it still looks amazing, mainly because it was pretty expensive. I bought this skirt with a silk shirt and blue blazer for a work presentation, and spent a lot on the outfit as a confidence booster. I still have all the pieces, but I don’t wear them together anymore (it looks a little… bank teller-ish?). This skirt has gotten a lot of rotation in the last year or so. It’s pretty tight at the waist, so it’s tough to wear stuff tucked in – I tend to wear sweaters over it. Here it is with my favorite hand-knit sweater. It’s only about a year old, but I have certainly worn it to death already. It goes well with the print on the bottom. But…it’s already getting really pilly at the sides where my arms rub against it a lot. So while I can fix that up, there’s only so much I can do to have it look “presentable” for work. For casual stuff, things can look a little bit worn and still look good. But at work you have to worry about your image …

While I love the idea of mending older clothes to give them new life, I’m having difficulty figuring out how the same can (easily) be done with clothes I wear to the office. I think it’s a great idea to “visibly” mend things, to add your own touch, but adding a whimsical patch to a blazer would … give off the wrong impressiong. I know nobody is recommending you do some crazy embroidering with neon thread over a hole in your black skirt – if you have a hole in fancy clothing, you should probably mend it as invisibly as possible. Which is possible. I’ve mended the hem of that skirt above three or four times, because it keeps ripping, and it’s still a beautiful skirt! But at a certain point, the fabric on older clothes gets too… shabby for the office.

It’s a challenge – wearing clothing as long as you can doesn’t quite jive with a sharp, work-ready wardrobe, no? I want to be responsible and get a few years out of my clothing, but I also understand that you need a certain Look when at work, and that image means a lot. One of the problems with my clothing is that I never spent too much on it, so it only looks good for a short amount of time. Maybe the solution for a work wardrobe is to just spend more money on the original pieces + the money on tailoring, and whatnot. The good thing about work clothes is that the trends don’t move all that quickly.

3 thoughts on “slow fashion october: longworn – casual clothes vs work clothes

  1. I love your hand-knitted sweater + skirt combination. You make a really good point here about not taking the prolonged wear of old clothes to an extreme. No one wants to look like a bag lady at work!

    This post has definitely prompted me to go back through my closet and study which is my oldest garment….

    1. Yeah, I think that the people at the head of the handmade clothing community (sewing and knitting) look beautiful in their clothing, but they are privileged in that a lot of them work for themselves, or they work in a creative field. Handmade clothing, long-worn clothing all looks fine in that sort of environment. But that look doesn’t work for more conservative fields. I mean, I only work for local government – it’s not like we’re a fancy law firm on Wall Street – but I still need a somewhat tailored look.

    2. I just wanted to add – I’ve read your blog before! I was curious about Chanel-inspired knits, and you write so clearly about the aspects you really need to get the look right. Your blog is full of work-appropriate knit wear, and lots of tips regarding design tweaks – adding you to my blogroll!

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