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What is Garment Longevity?

Garment Longevity is simply referring to garments that will last a long time.

I have identified three different areas that make garments last, which I will decipher in more detail to enable you to apply these ideas instantly to your own wardrobe of clothes.

Leopard fur coat
Garments that never go out of Fashion

Why do we need to know this?

We have more choice of clothing, and more style advice than ever before in history, yet statistics show we are more unsatisfied with the way we look than ever before. As a result we have spent 3 decades buying more clothes to no avail.

Plus, in its current form, the clothing industry is simply not sustainable, meaning we are all going to be forced to re-think how we obtain clothes and ultimately daily dress.

So, back to Garment Longevity and clothes that will last a long time – and not just hidden in a wardrobe waiting to be discovered a few decades later – but garments that have an increased life span of wear before the very fibres that created them fail.

Your initial thoughts may go straight to a classic garment like a timeless blazer that we could keep and wear for several decades because it’s unlikely to go out of fashion and only comes out on occasions, but that’s not it. Garment Longevity is more than timeless pieces, it’s about owning good quality clothes that can stand the test of time and not become worn out, as well as enjoying the wearing of them knowing that they make us look and feel good. It doesn’t stop when we’re finished with an item either. Knowing what to do with garments when we no longer want to wear them is just as bigger a part of Garment Longevity as the other factors.

Let me explain the cycle of Garment Longevity in 3 distinct phases:

1. Styling existing garments for different situations and daily occasions

2. Recognising appropriate, sought-after pieces that will stay in circulation

3. Knowing what is worth up-fashioning and how to do it

I will decipher each of these 3 phrases in more detail to enable you to apply these ideas instantly to your own wardrobe of clothes.

One dress styled ten times
One Dress Styled Ten Times

StHeirloom FashionHeirloom Fashion Heirloom Fashion yling Your Existing Garments

Start with your favourite, reliable garments and make up outfit combinations with different outer layers, footwear and accessories. Go beyond the seasonal layering and ‘dress-up for evening’ formulas (they are a good starting point) and think of specific daily situations, i.e. lunch, shopping, meeting friends, visiting family, network meeting, work, weekend. Once you’ve got the hang of it, select a garment you haven’t worn for several years and do the same…

The future of dressing starts with the clothes you already own, because they are the most sustainable clothes. #SustainableFashion

Heirloom Fashion
Heirloom Fashion

Recognising an Heirloom piece

Yes, I did mean to write ‘Heirloom’ and if we keep that thought in mind we will automatically choose well and buy less. We cannot 100% predict the future and know which items of clothing are going to be loved by the next generation, but we certainly do have enough information from history to know the types of garments that are most likely to be loved by many and stay in circulation for longer.

Reflecting on specific clothing items from past decades that are still popular, loved, sought after and wearable today, they all have something in common. They are easy to describe.

The fabric for example: denim, leather, fur, plaid, fringe, leopard print, suede, metallic, lace, crochet, and velvet…

And the style: mini, maxi, halter-neck, swing-coat, pea-coat, blazer, circular, flared, bodycon, tailored, puffer…

Try it?

Garments fall into two categories, the ‘loved items’ and the ‘non-descript’. There is a percentage of non-descripts that are largely underwear, hosiery and practical under layers, all of which have a valuable purpose and are worn by the owner until the bitter end of garment wear and tear failure. However, if the rest of our Wardrobes consist of definite, fulfilling pieces, which are made from quality, recognisable fabrics, have a purposeful, definite style to them (& a brand too if possible) then they are going to have a long, long life.

Even after we have finished them. They are the pieces that your friends want, sell on eBay, your local recycle boutique display in their window to attract custom and the pieces your daughters and nieces want. #SlowFashion #CircularFashion #HeirloomFashion

Princess of Wales Up-Fashioned garments
The late Princess of Wales Up-Fashioned her Garments

Up-Fashioning. What & How?

The true meaning of Up-Fashion is to change (something) so as to make it suitable for a new use or situation.

First we must decide what is worth Up-Fashioning. Here are three questions to help you, and if the answer is yes to all of them then it’s an item worth making perfect.

· Do you love it and could never pass it on to anyone?

· Does it make you feel good?

· Do you love the fabric?

Here are three more reasons you want to keep it (which is ok) but it might not be right for Up-Fashioning

· Sentimental garment

· It was given to me

· I used to love it

So, once you’ve established Up-Fashioning is an option. How do you do it?

Each garment and every individual that falls in love with it is different, and so is life as time marches on, which means knowing how to Up-Fashion is a very unique, bespoke challenge – But never impossible.

Here are three options:

1. Seamstress Attention It could be a simple case of length or fit, which will entail taking up a hem or sleeve, or pinching in the sides or adding a dart. Or letting out some seams, which is possible on quality garments. In this case, when you know what the tweak is, I suggest getting to know the local seamstress or you may already have a handy sewing person in the family.

2. Dated Re-Style some garments have a distinguished feature that attaches them to a specific era. Even when that look comes around again, it is usually an up-dated version. Typical examples are removing a shoulder pad, removing a peplum, re-shaping a neckline or collar, changing the sleeve design, removing some flounce. Coupled with the above – you’ll amazed at what options you have.

3. Complete Overhaul. This is when the item becomes something different, and often requires a professional wardrobe stylist to give you the options. Over the years I have seen dresses become skirts, wedding dresses become casual tops, and even an ‘A’ line skirt become a blazer! All these up-fashion projects were devised by understanding what elements of the original garment the owner loved, and what personal style the owner wears now. Anything can be morphed into a new item with this understanding.

The easiest way to gain Up-Fashioning ideas is to look at examples of what has already been done. Our very own British Royal family are excellent at this and provide a brilliant starting point!

Do you have any Garment Longevity tips? And I would love to see your heirloom pieces and up-fashioned garments.

Sarah x


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