Clothes can wear out welcome

Published 11:59 pm Friday, May 29, 2009

Is there a garment in your closet or a pair of shoes on your shoe rack that you won’t give up, even though you’ve had them for years? Have you really looked at them lately?

I’ve just noticed that my red knit cardigan shows its age. I’ve cared for it tenderly by washing it in a mild detergent in cold water on a gentle cycle in my washing machine.

The color is as true as ever, but I was disappointed when I realized that the fabric is thin in a few spots, the pockets droop and it sags a little on the sides. Even so, I can’t part with it yet. I’ll resist wearing it out in public, but it will suffice for a light wrap in the house or yard.

All this reluctance on the part of disposing of one of my favorite sweaters reminds me of my blue mesh sneakers. I wasn’t even shopping for sneakers when I saw them displayed in a mall shoe store. After just a glance their way, I felt them call to me from the display shelf. My imagination whirled: “They’re mesh, so they’ll be cool; they’ll look great with jeans; with shorts; just right for camping …” Suddenly I found myself walking away with a bag containing the sneakers hanging on my arm. They served me well for years.

By the time I realized those sneakers needed to go, they fit my feet so well it seemed as if I was born with them attached. One day as I mopped my kitchen, I slipped on the wet floor and landed on my backside. A close look at the sneaker soles revealed they were worn smooth as silk.

Time and frequent scrubbings had dulled their finish. Mileage had erased most of their treads. Constant usage had destroyed their shape, frayed the edges and worn the heels.

What a shock. Closer scrutiny revealed that they weren’t even my pretty mesh sneakers anymore. They were just a pair of scruffy sneakers dotted with white paint spots and missing shoestrings. Yep, they were plain ugly.

Several summers ago, I bought an extremely comfortable pair of tan suede sandals. They consisted basically of a strap at the ankle, a strap across the middle of my foot and another strap across my toes. They were so comfortable that I rushed back and bought another pair in a different color that same day. I wore the tans every summer, but kept the other pair on a shelf.

When I pulled the tans out this spring, I took a close look. They aren’t quite as worn as the mesh sneakers were. Still, they aren’t fit to wear in public. They’ll serve me at home. Just like the red cardigan.

Despite my reluctance, I know I’ll need to part company with my favorite sweater and sandals in a year or so.