After seeing the Downton Abbey movie, I commented last week that I’d probably have more in common with the servants than with the aristocracy of the estate or the visiting royalty. Well I’m thrilled to share that I actually have a lot in common with Great Britain’s current monarchy!
I can assert that because of Benjamin Leszcz’s editorial “The life-changing magic of making do,” about conscientious consumption, in which he points out Prince Charles’ well-known penchant for upcycling/recycling clothing. Leszcz writes about the cardboard box found at the Prince’s tailor’s containing more than 30 years of off-cuts and leftover materials from the Prince’s suits. Prince Charles is even known to say, “I have always believed in trying to keep as many of my clothes and shoes going for as long as possible … through patches and repairs.” … “In this way, I tend to be in fashion once every 25 years.”
Wow! That’s only a couple years younger than the most vintage outfit I have in my “save-until-it-comes-around-again closet,” and about 17 months older than some sweaters I’m still wearing!
I’m a big fan of research, so I went ferreting out statistics on how many people fall into the category of “clothing savorer.” (I’m loathe to use “hoarder.” It has such judgmental connotations). I have yet to find that statistic, but I did find a fascinating chart on the Inside Out Style Blog on how long different categories of clothing and fabrics are designed to last. The average design life of today’s clothing is 2.88 years, which is probably 2.75 years longer than they’re in style. I have to admit I was surprised that nowhere on that list were items listed with a life cycle even close to 25 years. I’m not sure if I should be a proud environmentalist or a mortified fashinista to admit I have proof positive that there really is clothing that will last that long!
The author points out that Prince C. comes from a lineage of “admirable frugality” in which the Queen Mother reuses wrapping paper. Wow! That’s another thing he and I have in common! My mother always reused wrapping paper. I might be tempted to copy her, but friends who know me—and I can hear you chuckling right now, ladies — know I have a penchant for “wrapping/camouflaging” holiday gifts in red plastic Folger’s containers decorated with pretty ribbons. So I too must have inherited this trait from my mother! She was someone who definitely fell into the clothing savorer category. When we cleaned out her house after her passing at the age of 79, we found my baby clothes and dresses she’d worn on her honeymoon around 50 years earlier.
Come to think of it, maybe now’s a good time to get rid of that Hawaiian dress I bought on our honeymoon and never wore after leaving Hawaiin soil. It would just be downright humiliating to follow in my mother’s footsteps with a muumuu that only fit me for one luau.
This editorial was published in the October 17 issue of Beyond the Nest’s weekly newsletter.
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