Preserving Our Wardrobe: A Personal Journey Beyond Maintenance to Love

By Susan Lee

A beautiful Asian woman sitting in front of camera with a pile of clothes on the background.

In the rhythm of our fast-paced world, where the new often outshines the old, there lies an art often forgotten – the art of cherishing our clothes. This isn’t just about the physical upkeep of our garments; it’s about nurturing a lasting relationship with them, a sentiment I’ve come to appreciate in my own life.

As a mother, my days are marked by the ebb and flow of family life.

It’s a Wednesday morning in January, and I find a moment of quiet on the couch in my short-sleeve maternity maxi dress. This piece, a constant through the pregnancies of both my children, carries some beloved memories.

Its emerald fabric, light-weight and stretchy, has endured through years of baby spit-ups and sleepless nights, yet it still makes me feel beautiful, even on days when self-care seems like a distant dream.

This dress embodies the emotional element of clothing care that often goes unnoticed. Our clothes are more than just fabric stitched together — they're the companions of our daily journeys, the silent witnesses to our lives.

They hold memories and represent a facet of our identity. My maternity dress is a testament to this, reminding me of my own personal journey of motherhood.

In a way, falling in love with our clothes, and staying in love with them, is not so different from nurturing a long-term relationship. It requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to invest time.

An old favorite sweater might no longer bring that same love-at-first-sight spark as when I first wore it several years ago, but there’s an appreciation for the time shared together, for the memories made in them.

Sometimes, it’s about patiently stitching up a seam or patching a hole, not just to fix a piece of clothing but to breathe new life into something that’s served me well over the years.

It’s about recognizing that even when they’re fraying or slightly out of fashion, they still hold value. They are, in a way, the fabric of our lives – we live in them, breathe in them, create in them.

In this era of disposable fashion, where garments are often seen as fleeting trends, choosing to love and maintain our clothes becomes a quiet rebellion.

As I look at my own wardrobe, I see a mix of mostly sustainable clothes and a few that aren’t. But beyond the label of ‘sustainable’ — I see a collection of stories, love, and life, each piece a precious chapter of my journey.

For me, it's been a journey of rediscovering myself, from the past to the present — who I was and who I am now, how much I’ve changed, or haven’t changed.

I wish every piece in my closet evoked such feelings. But, truthfully, that’s rare. My approach to clothing has always been practical to a fault – the same pair of jeans for six years, sneakers worn until they bear holes – not always out of a conscious choice for sustainability, but also from a mix of convenience and a dislike for waste.

In the end, maintaining our clothes is about embracing their imperfections, just as we embrace our own. It's about recognizing that with a little care, even the worn and weary can be beautiful.

That’s the essence of a sustainable wardrobe – a tapestry of life experiences, emotions, and memories, all hanging in our closets, waiting to be worn once again.