Saturday’s Question of the Day

One a year or so, I dig out my closet and get rid of the stuff I haven’t worn in awhile. I’m pretty ruthless. But there’s one item that illogically has lasted through every clear-out since 1986. It’s a turquoise blue v-neck sheath dress, size 8. I wore it on my honeymoon, you see, going out to dinner for the first time ever with my brand-new husband. We were so young that we couldn’t even legally buy a glass of champagne for a toast. We ordered Sprite in fancy glasses and toasted anyway. It was the beginning of the greatest adventure of our lives. Somehow touching that dress every now and then is a way of keeping that memory fresh. I don’t think I’ll get rid of it anytime soon.

So here’s the question for you: not counting your wedding dress, what is the oldest item of clothing in your closet, and why are you hanging on to it?

You have till Tuesday evening to answer. The person with the best story gets my Very Interesting Person Award. Come on, hit me with your best story!


  1. Well, it’s not in my closet anymore it has finally been moved to my cedar chest. (My closet is far too small for anything but the bare necessities.) But it hung in my closet for many years and, obviously, I couldn’t get rid of it. It is a seersucker, sleeveless, maternity dress that I wore when I was pregnant with my oldest. (And only him as it was too big/too small with the other pregnancies.) It is peach and white striped and it reminds me of when I was pregnant with him, my first. The excitement and unlimited possiblities that a new child brings to the family is so amazing but there is something special about that first pregnancy, first child. Everything is brand new, never before been tried. It is so wonderful to have the experience, to know what is/isn’t going to work, with subsequent children but that dress reminds me of how blissfully ignorant with my first.

  2. In the mid 90’s in High School my 2 best friends and I got on a Smurf kick for no reason other than we thought it was hilarious to toss the word “smurf” into sentences at random…and ad nauseam. This was before the commercial world latched back onto the smurfs so we spent our weekends hunting through thrift stores for smurf products to hide in each other’s lockers and bookbags. We hung size 2 smurf shoes from the rearview mirrors of our cars. We were geeks, but we were very amused geeks.

    That year for Christmas we all made each other gifts (because, trust me, we were cool like that. And broke like that.) and I embroidered and quilted smurf designs for both girls into blankets and pillows. One of the other girls found an original swatch of smurf-print material and cut out entire scenes of little smurfs and appliqued them onto t-shirts for us, with glitter paint and everything. It was truly a work of art and my smurfy tshirt has hung in my closet, unworn, for 12 years now, moved through 4 moves and at least a dozen closet clean-outs. I can’t see myself ever tossing it, or ever wearing it, so there it hangs.

  3. This is a hard one because mostly I am a pack rat…First I thought of things I could wear, like the two t-shirts from our honeymooon that dh and I had made in Gatlinburg TN. I still sleep in his. They both match, say our names and the date of our wedding on them. Pretty cool. But then I remembered the Pink Floyd t-shirt he bought at the concert we went to. Hmm….that was almost 13 years ago. We “shared” that shirt. I found it on my son the other night. Guess he wanted to sleep in it. It is back in my closet. The oldest things I have happen to be two different shirts though, they are in my daughters closet, not mine. (she has more room for storage) One is my fathers cub scout shirt, another happens to be a shirt of my grandfathers, my mothers dad. It is a red button down shirt, from his early adulthood. It has to be a size small, no one in my family could wear it. But it is a mans shirt. Very heavy thick course flannel. I am not sure why my mom had it, but she gave it to me shortly before she died and I have just hung it in my closet. It is scratchy and hot and very red. None of my children would wear it and I can’t even button it. Grandpa was very thin! lol. But I have to say in this pack rat mode that I live in, some of the most sentimental things in my closet happen to be my mothers clothing. I have a dress she wore to every social event from the mid 80’s through to the early 90’s. It is a black dress with white spots, sleeveless. It has a large plastic type black belt that goes with it. She wore this dress the day I got married and I can see her wearing it often in my memory. That dress hangs with a few other outfits she picked up from Cozumel,Mexico shortly before she died. Sleeveless shirts and skirts, one she even got me, while I was pregnant and I have never been able to wear. In dd’s closet is a dress she wore even before the 80’s dress. It is blue with white triangles and lines on it. She wore that in the early 80’s before the black dress. I think it was the first nice dress she purchased after dad graduated college. I have tried to get rid of it, but can’t bring myself to. Even Dh has learned to put up with my pack rat mode. And finally the last thing I hold in that closet is a bright red dress she bought in Mexico when I was pregnant the first time. She swore I would get tiny and wear it. The skirt flares out very full, so if you twirled it would come flying up, and the top part has that sear sucker type material that lil girls wear. I can fit in it, because it stretches. I think she bought it to recapture the little girl I was, even though it is a womans dress, it is not a style I wear now, but I would have loved it in my teen years. I also became pregnant with my second child shortly after the first was born, then mom died before my second child was 10 months and my first was 2. I was never able to wear either outfit she got me. Dad gave me all her clothing and I have kept those outfits from mexico and the dresses from the 80’s. I think at some point I need to find a nice cedar chest to fold them all up and put them in. I am not sure if I ever will wear any of them, but I will always think of mom and that is why I keep them.

  4. When I was in first grade, I was outside on the playground with a friend playing tag. At some point, she “accidentally” pushed me and I fell and landed on my palm with my arm out straight. I heard a crack, and it was painful, and a teacher who saw me took me to the school nurse. The nurse said she’d have to cut my sweatshirt in order to get it off of me. I was horrified. I had gotten it on a vacation to Disneyland – it had Minnie on it, with a bunch of hearts surrounding her.

    My parents divorced when I was 8, and we lived with our dad after that. For my ninth birthday, I got a package in the mail from my mom. She had cut out the Minnie and the hearts from the old sweatshirt and sewed them on a new one. It was way too big for me at the time (like a kids size 12 or something) so I tucked it away in a drawer, waiting for when it would fit. We moved a few more times in the next few years, and the sweatshirt always went with me.

    I was probably 14 or 15 when I remembered that it had been a long time since I tried on the sweatshirt to see if it fit. I tried again, and it was too small. 🙁

    Now, it sits in my closet, dodging every attempt of mine to rid myself of clutter, waiting for the day that it will fit my own daughter.

  5. A pair of Gap Jeans that fit me when I was a lovely size. They no longer fit after bearing two beauties. But every morning I wake up and think, I will begin again…and each time I clean out the closet, they re-inspire me. (Apparently not enough…lol.)

    But they are of the most beautiful dark wash, and comfortable fit..not too skinny legged, and not too bell-bottomy. Just right…..well when I’m that size I guess.

    Thanks for re-inspiring me….time to try, try again.

  6. Awwww…your stories made me cry! 🙂 So cute! I guess the most sentimental thing (although not the oldest, sad to say, I have lots of sweaters/jackets etc. from junior high school 15 years ago) is the dress I wore the first time I went to church with my (then future) husband. It is long, and fitted, with gray sleeves and gray across the top, and the bottom is black. He loved that dress, and hopefully someday I’ll fit into it again! 🙂 Also, my going away outfit from our wedding- a pair of slim black pants and a purple gauzy flowy long-sleeve shirt….hopefully I’ll fit into that someday too! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, everyone! 🙂

  7. Mine isn’t clothing, but it’s in my closet. It is an afghan that my grandmother crocheted, probably around 1976. I’m pretty sure I remember her working on it the summer that my brother and I stayed with her. It is in her favorite colors: purple, pink and blue, with some green added. Being the 70s they are practically neon hues; quite garish today, but I remember liking it when I was 9. It has stayed in my closet because there are places on it that need to be repaired, and I’m still not a skilled enough crocheter.

    I feel very lucky to have it. Grandma passed away in 1981. Grandpa kept the afghan, but when he was at home and we were all pitching in to do his hospice care in 1997, he started giving things away. I think he was afraid (rightly so, as it turned out) that his 3rd wife would just throw out these things that we felt had sentimental value. If anyone showed a sentimental interest in an item, he would urge us to take it. Well, my aunt also wanted this afghan. She graciously let me take it when I pointed out that I was the only one who didn’t have something that Grandma had made for them. She and a few others had pillows and things like that, but I never got one. I thought it was nice of her, so while it’s mostly a way to remember Grandma, it’s also a sweet memory of how my aunt understood how much I still miss her mom.

  8. My story is practically identical to yours. I hang on to nothing. I am “ruthless” too. But there is one dress. It’s a gorgeous Talbots silk fuscia sheath that I wore to my rehearsal dinner. I also wore it out to dinner one evening on our honeymoon. After that, I wore it on our first Valentines Day as a married couple. That is the last time I wore it.

    I’ve never been able to fit into it again. I have given away every other item of clothing that no longer fits or I haven’t worn in the last year, even my wedding “going away” dress. But this fuscia sheath still hangs in my closet, after 13 and a half years. I can’t bear to part with it. I do hang onto the elusive dream that I may fit into it again. I’m only about 8 pounds away. But I’m not holding my breath.

  9. I have an athletic shirt long sleeve that I got when I was a manager of the volleyball team(1993). It has holes all around the wrist and is worn thin but it is too comfy to even think about tossing. I still wear it from time to time but not so much in public anymore.

  10. This is an excerpt from my December 5, 2006 post at livejournal.

    Today I squared with a pair of Levis that I bought when I was a senior in college (fully eleven years ago, before the joyful, yet figure-destroying births of my sons). I had been eyeing this particular pair of pants for some time – they sat, mocking me, at the back of the closet, somehow evading the bags of donations that I made up for Lighthouse for the Blind or Catholic Family Services. This morning, with my masochistic streak firmly in place, I dragged them off the hanger and laid them out on the bed, knowing that the last time I tried to put them on the stinkers hadn’t gone past my gigantic hips.
    So I put them on… and imagine my shock when they slid into place with no effort, zipped easily (no lying on the bed with a pair of pliers – did anyone else do that in the 80’s?) and buttoned without a chunk of fat hanging over the waistband. It’s a (n early) Christmas Miracle.

    They fit. They fit well.

    Are they hopelessly out of date? Oh, absolutely. Why, yes. Yes, they are. They have tapered ankles and a waistband that practically goes up to underneath my breasts.

    Am I going to wear them? Out in public? No. No ‘mom jeans’ in public. Maybe to scrub bathrooms or something.

    Will they make the next Goodwill bag?

    Heck, no. For they are my trophy jeans. I’m contemplating framing the darn things, actually.

  11. When I was 13 (here goes me dating myself) Superman, the original movie came out.

    For my 13th birthday, I got to get all dressed up in my long dress and short heels, my daddy bought me a corsage and I got my first date (and last til I was 16).

    We went to the Gromon’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to the first day premier, first showing of Superman. After looking at all the footprints of the stars, we went into the theatre and I fell in love with Christopher Reeve for the first time. My very first Hollywood crush.

    Afterwards, we went to my favorite Mexican restaurant- just daddy and his big girl date- and he had the mariache’s sing my favorite song. That is where he gave me the best gift I ever got on that birthday.

    Daddy is now in heaven and Christopher Reeve is gone. What sits in my closet is my blue and white baseball jersey- with Superman on the front, and my name on the sleeve. Faded, and too small.

    But a forever reminder of two men I have loved, one way or another, in my life.

  12. I have a vest that my mom made out of a skirt she wore in high school. She made it for me when I was in high school. She is 71, so her high school days were quite a few years ago. The skirt was made of grey wool and there are little curls all over it. She made a vest for my sister out of a different skirt. I haven’t worn the vest in many years, but I doubt I will ever get rid of it, I am sure I will pass it down to my own daughter.

  13. I have an unusual dress that kind of looks like something that would be worn by a German barmaid with a serious Holly Hobby fetish, circa mid to late 1970’s. It was my Mom’s, actually purchased as an actual dress to wear for church and dress up occasions, but I keep it around for occasions when I have to have a costume. Braid my hair and–voila!– I’m Heidi of the Swiss Alps, or a hillbilly if I add freckles and bare feet, or even Pippi Longstocking if I were to go red on top…

    I have a yellow waffle-knit cardigan sweater with a style that reminds me a little of a letterman jacket in shape, circa 1985. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it’s time…

    But the thing I’ll never get rid of is a dowdy, blue floral & checks, lace- trimmed nightgown that I’ve had for four years. When I bought it, I was pregnant with my 3rd child and needed to find a nightgown big enough for my swelling 3rd trimester belly that might also had be comfortable and practical to labor in when the time came. Knowing how trashed the garment I last gave birth in became and that this one would probably bear the same fate after its brief service, I just wanted something cheap. I went to a K Mart clearance rack and picked the least offensive, closest- to- cute short-sleeve gown. Well, I did end up giving birth wearing that gown, helping the midwife to pull him up and right into my arms to rest on those flowery checks. And barely a mark on it. I just can’t get rid of that first blanket he touched as I cradled him. So I keep it and wear it from time to time, thinking that maybe someday I’ll make a baby blanket out of it for this son’s own baby. But I wonder: when I tell him why the blanket is so special to me, will he think it’s meaningful, too… or will he just say, “EWWW!” ?!

  14. In 8th grade, our group was a finalist in the History Fair, and we got to go to Washington, D.C. We stayed at the University of Maryland. I was cheap (er, frugal), even back then. For my souvenir, I found a University of Maryland sweatshirt on the clearance rack for $5. It is white with the seal of the college in red on the front. I wore it all through high school (sometimes having to explain, “No, I don’t want to go there.”), college, and I still wear it occasionally. I don’t wear it out anymore because it’s got some stains on it now, but even some of the stains have memories, like the glitter stain from a craft project I did on a babysitting job.

  15. I have very little room in my home for “extra stuff”, but I have held on to a pair of 501 jeans given to me by my grandfather. He gave them to me when I was in high school( verrrry long ago). You see the pair he gave me were used and have a homemade patch that was sewn on by my grandmother. Sounds kinda corney, but when I see those old pants hanging up in my closet they bring such sweet memories and give me a sense of roots, kinda like an old picture album.

  16. I come from a long line of ruthless closet cleaners. My mom even sold her wedding dress two weeks after the wedding–they’ve still been happily married for 40 years. My closet is trimmed down to the bare essentials. All except one rather sheer, somewhat sparkly, very sassy little dress. It was given to me by my husband for my 30th birthday. On that birthday I felt the opposite of glamorous. I had just given birth to baby #2 in 16 months, was nursing so none of my shirts fit, and my jeans of course hadn’t been buttoned all the way for months. I was tired. I was cranky. And I had mastitis. I was truly lovely. One afternoon Rick declared he was going shopping with the girls and he’d be back in an hour. He returned with both babies, a large shopping bag and a smile from ear to ear. The next day I unwrapped the dress while my toddler shouted “So pretty for Mama!” She was right. That dress reminded me of the girl I used to be, and the wife my husband knew was still in there somewhere. T-shirts will go, dress pants will be flung, but that dress always makes me smile. The image of him with one baby strapped to his chest, and another in the stroller picking out a party dress always makes me pause and be thankful for the many ways he loves me.

  17. I have a dress that I also wore on my honeymoon that I will never get rid of but that isn’t the “one”.

    It is a purple football jersy you can still kind of tell the number on it was 11. You see it was my dad’s in highschool, and my mom apparently used it as a sleep shirt for years after they were married, then when I was 4 I started playing in it and using it to sleep in all the way till I was a teenager. I put it in the box and pulled it out a few years ago and it is still holding together and I smile everytime Brittney wears it to bed. It is so soft from years of wear and I think of the highschool love my mom and dad shared back then that is still apparent 35 years later. I am grateful that I found a love that will last like that jersy and I pray that my daughter will find that love and pass on that jersy for her daughter to play in and sleep in.

  18. When I was little, my dad traveled lots as a petro & chemical engineer and sometimes to what I thought were exotic places – the border between Russia and China, Venezuela (even though I was born there) and Bolivia – to name a few.

    Naturally, as most fathers would, he brought back souvenirs for each of us children.

    I’ve pretty much kept all of the things he brought back but the one I like the most is a sweater he brought back from Bolivia – if I remember correctly, it’s made from llama. I was probably 9 or 10 – I’m 39 now, so I’ve been baggin’ and draggin’ that sweater with each move since then. I never wore it when I was younger and as I’m bigger now, I shan’t be wearin’ it either, but I keep it because I thought it was cool, it’s from Bolivia and I’d never seen anything like it.

    I now have daughters who have greater confidence than I did at those ages, but truthfully, it’s quite scratchy and I don’t know if I’d let them wear it. I might now frame it in a shadowbox for the piece of art that it really is.

  19. I have in my closet a faded, short-sleeved, button-down-the-front, cotton, blue-checked shirt that my mom gave me once upon a time when she was tired of it. Thing is, it is so “her” that I immediately see her face every time I look at it, and I think of her every time I wear it. I think about how patient she is, what a great mom she was (and still is), and what a fabulous sense of humor she has always had. Somehow I think that if I wear it often enough, I’ll slowly start to be more like her, and for that reason alone I’ll never get rid of it.

    Mary, I think you holding onto that dress is the sweetest thing ever!

  20. I have tucked away in a vacuum-packed bag a knitted blue button-down cardigan that I bought for my mum 21 years ago. She wore it so often that it started to get all worn out.

    Mum and dad were staying with us when my 2nd daughter was born. And as all doting grandmas do, my mum would carry the baby pretty much the whole day. A good thing too, as this baby was a SCREAMER. The only thing that would calm her down was for “mama” to rock her. Even I was unsuccessful in soothing her.

    There were many nights where I was at my wits end because the baby just wouldn’t stop crying. We finally figured out the only way to get her to sleep in the crib was to wrap my mum’s blue cardigan around her, so that she would think she was still being held by my mum. It worked like a charm.

    My mum was battling cancer at the time and I have pictures of her rocking my baby to sleep, while having her oxygen tubes trailing behind her.

    My mum went to be with the Lord when my daughter was 2.5 years old.

    A few months ago, as I was reminiscing with my children about mama, I pulled out the bag with the sweater in it. At that point, my daughter burst into tears. And not just silent tears rolling down her cheeks, but sobbing that wracked her little body. I was in shock. When I asked her why she was crying, she told me that she missed my mum and proceeded to sob even louder.

    I tried my best to comfort her, without falling apart myself. It took a good hour before her sobs subsided. It was heart-wrenching to say the least.

    My little girl had a special connection with my mum. I never knew how special until that incident. She is 5 years old.

    That cardigan will be going with me wherever we go, until I can pass it onto my daughter.

  21. I really have no idea just how old the oldest piece of clothing in my closet is. I only know how long ago it became mine. Fifteen years ago, when I was fifteen years old.

    That spring, we learned my grandfather was dying. He had been diagnosed with cancer several years before. It had gone into remission, but then it returned in his liver, and this time he only had a few more months.

    As soon as school let out my mother and I moved into my grandparents home, but first, I took a moment to break my ankle and in 3 places. In honor of my-born-and-raised-in-Ireland-Grandpa, I headed to his home in a bright green cast. So then I was stuck, in a tiny house in Baltimore, couldn’t go anywhere or do much of anything, but sit and wait for him to die. I spent about a month sitting on the couch next to his rocker, reading my bible, while he stared out the window and prayed.

    He had this t-shirt he would sometimes wear, as he rocked in the chair, just a plain old men’s white v-neck undershirt. Nothing to distinguish it, but a tiny hole on the right side and the feeling of the cloth. It was so old and had been washed so many times, it felt like satin against your skin. I had seen him wear it many times before, as mowed the lawn or worked in my grandmothers garden. But those prayerful moments in chair are so very precious, because they are my last good memories of a very good man.

    As we packed up his things at the end of the summer, I found this t-shirt in a pile of trash, things not good enough to donate. I pulled the t-shirt out of the pile, rubbed it against my cheek and breathed in all the memories. It now sits on a shelf in my closet with a bunch of meaningless t-shirts, but every once in awhile, I pull it out of the pile rub it against my cheek and breathe in all the memories… way too good to donate.

  22. My oldest piece of clothing in my closet actually predates me. It is a yellow taffeta dress with a net type petticoat and then an overlay of gauzy material embroidered with some type of yellow flowers. I guess it shows that I have no fashion sense. I am just guessing at the names of those materials.

    This dress arrived in a package from my step-dad, and it predates my stepdad as well. My mother died almost 13 years ago so I may never know the whole story behind the yellow dress. I imagine she wore it in her late teens or early 20’s. She loved to dance and even danced on some of those teen TV shows. Apparently she and my uncle were quite good and even won some competitions. Maybe she wore the dress to one of those dances?

    The yellow dress hangs in the front of my closet as a reminder that life is precious, a reminder to enjoy each day in all of the craziness that has become our life with a big family. It is a reminder to love our babies even on the days that they are prepubescent not so lovable creatures, just like I know my mother loved me – even when I was unloveable. It is a bittersweet reminder of the woman who I aspire to be.

  23. If the contest was for the oldest item, I would probably win. Our daughter has, in her dresser, a pair of size 24 months red corduroy pants that I wore when I was a kid. My mom found a box of clothes that she hadn’t given away and that was the only thing in the box that hadn’t come back in style (or maybe came back and left again). The other stuff was so 70s we couldn’t bare to put her in it.

  24. Two things come to mind.

    When i was in 4th grade my class participated in a school track meet. Each class made “uniforms” to wear on the day of the meet. Our class dyed t-shirts bright yellow and then spray-painted a black “S” on the back – we were in Mrs. Stevens class afterall. I remember that track meet. It was a hot hot day and my event was the softball throw. That was nearly 30 yearrs ago and I still have that yellow shirt, although you can barely tell that it was once yellow but the “S” is still visible. Each of my children have worn this shirt. A fact that gave Mrs. Stevens a thrill when she learned of it. Now the shirt is packed away, a sweet reminder of both my children being small and me being small too.

    In all my years growing up, I remember my mom wearing soft velour-type housecoats or robs. In the spring they were short and in the winter they were long. Every night when she came home from work, my mom would change out of her work clothes and into on of these comfortable robs. When my mom died, my sister and I had the task of going through my mom’s closet. I brought a couple of those robs home to my house. They hang in my closet now, complete with the clean tissue she placed in the pocket. Sometimes, I see them hanging there and I touch one or run a soft sleeve along my cheek; and I’m reminded of my mom. I close my eyes and I get a clear memory of holding my mom in a tight hug. These robs aren’t going anywhere.

  25. I missed the contest, but I wanted to chime in anyway. What a neat question! The most precious thing we have in our closet is my husband’s winter coat from when he was 8. When he was in college his family fled their home as refugees of the Transnistrian war, and before their home was bombed they took away what they could carry. That coat – along with the checkers set in its pocket and a few ragged pictures are all that remains of his childhood. He’s a pack rat now, but gives me precious reminders to set aside some of the kids’ favorite toys and articles of clothes as reminders of their childhoods.

  26. I’m late for the party, but it’s a very faded, very loved old black t-shirt, with the wonderful stamp of ‘Hell is other people’ on it. I could never, ever part with it 🙂


  1. […] 22nd, 2007 by Owlhaven I got lots of interesting entries for my Closet Stories post last Saturday, but the one that captured my heart the most was this one from Raising Mustard […]