My newspaper has asked its readers the above question: what is the oldest item of clothing you have in your wardrobe? I read that article in bed early in the morning, and over my pyjamas I was wearing a long cardigan that I treat as my bed jacket. It is the most amazing piece of kit because I bought it from a market stall in Riccione, Italy in 1972 making it 47 years old!  And this cardigan has not been left lying in a drawer as I have worn it and worn it and worn it.  Personally, I think it’s indestructible as there’s not a single sign of it wearing out!

Here I am in 1972 in Riccione wearing the cardi with, I see, quite a short skirt! And some clumpy shoes! I’ve just been to the Victoria & Albert museum to the Mary Quant exhibition with the lovely Gail of Is This Mutton, and more about that visit in my next post.  But short skirts (and platform heels) I wore plenty of those.

Anyway, in the past this ‘bed jacket’ was a normal, everyday cardi  – see below for two pix taken in 1973 at Christmas.

And another shot.

But the extraordinary thing about this cardigan is the wear it’s had, because, once fashion moved on I didn’t throw it out. Instead, I began to wear it to keep warm in the evening whilst reading in bed. And ever since, I have worn it (unless it’s a heat wave) every single evening and every single morning for it must be at least three decades. Dear me, this must say something about my life and how boring I can look at times! But there isn’t a hole or any sign whatsoever of thinning or wear to it.

Here it is today close up with me in my night wear!

And another pic over black jeans.

Should I resurrect it for day wear?  I don’t think so.  Seeing the cardigan over the black jeans reminds me that I don’t like ‘vintage’ because, to my eyes, 70s and 80s clothes just don’t look right. That cardi has neither the shape nor the ‘look’ I want to project. I mean I don’t always achieve my look (stylish but a bit wacky at the same time) but, nevertheless, that’s what I want to look like.  But around the house/flat? It’s a yes to comfort, and a big cheer for its longevity!

In fact, I have thought that the instructions to my children re: my funeral should include their mother wearing a hat (natch) plus this cardi.  I haven’t made up my mind whether I want to be cremated or buried (which one is better for the environment – must find out) but if I was buried I bet that cardi would be there, intact, as everything else around it has crumbled, including me!

What’s your oldest garment, as in, one you actually wear?

That’s all for now, but back very soon with my post on the Mary Quant exhibition and possibly even one further post this week to make up for the slight gap 🙂

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper


Tagged on:         

53 thoughts on “What’s the oldest garment you possess – and wear?

  • 5th May 2019 at 5:15 pm

    What an interesting question Penny – I shall have to think about that very carefully! It is harder to get items of really good lasting quality these days. I have a few Jean Muir wool crepe items which I still wear after many years but I need to have a ‘thin’ day for them.

    • 7th May 2019 at 7:55 am

      Ah yes, Jean Muir, they must be quality items. How lovely you’ve kept them 🙂

  • 5th May 2019 at 6:06 pm

    That cardigan is a keeper!

    My oldest item is likely a silk dress from the 1940s. I’ve collected many vintage items from the 1950s because I adore the elegant fashions of this era.

    I laughed as I read your post because I was sitting with my blue Scottish mohair demi-cape (has covered buttons, arm slits and a charming fringe) that I always wear over my nightie & robe. It’s a vintage piece that is just so beautiful and practical and warm. Nice enough to wear out though I rarely do.

    • 7th May 2019 at 7:57 am

      A silk dress from the 40s – now that’s the kind of vintage I like 🙂

      And yes, this is very similar to me to wear an ‘old’ item over your nightie! Love the sound of it 🙂

  • 5th May 2019 at 6:07 pm

    I still wear the cerise Boden merino shirt I bought in about 1995 but the oldest thing I have is my all time favourite and most comfortable pair of jeans that I bought in Edinburgh when I was 16 which makes them 44 years old – and they still fit, if a little threadbare. Vintage? – the real McCoy. Last time I wore them a young friend offered to buy them off me!

    • 6th May 2019 at 9:43 am

      My oldest are two Biden cotton dresses that must be 16 years old still wear them!
      Lynn Culver

      • 7th May 2019 at 10:11 am

        Oh well done you Lynne for still wearing the dresses 🙂

    • 7th May 2019 at 7:59 am

      The jeans are really old – must have been the real McCoy! And well done that they still fit. Despite looking slim I was one size smaller 47 years ago!

  • 5th May 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Oh so lovely to see those photos of you! What a age for a cardigan! Fantastic

    • 7th May 2019 at 8:01 am

      Thank you Nancy! I know! I’ve often looked at the cardigan and wondered what it was made from – but no labels. Wearing it now 😉

  • 5th May 2019 at 6:49 pm

    My newspaper asked me the same question… thank you for reminding me! The oldest thing I’ve got that I still wear is a black leather jacket (not a biker) that I borrowed off my mum in the mid-60’s. I wore it then with an emerald mini skirt or floral print trousers. I have kept it ever since and it re-emerges from time to time, most recently just last week, with a pink flowery peplumed top and black “paper bag” trousers. Now that my mum has died, I will never part with it, even though it’s a bit battered.

    • 7th May 2019 at 8:04 am

      The black leather jacket sounds amazing and how brilliant that it was your mother’s. She must have been a very stylish woman. My lovely mum was very conventional and very conservative in her dress. Great that you’re still wearing it!

  • 5th May 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I have a full length East coat that my sister bought in Hong Kong back in the 1980s (it cost her £80 then which was a lot of money) and she gave to me because it swamped her. She’s shorter than I am. I wish I could post a picture because it’s beautiful – woven paisley design in reds, golds and browns on a black background with a black and burgundy embroidered band down the front. Because I never wear black I only tend to wear it to funerals, which is a shame as I love it. Whenever I wore it when we were together and people complimented me on it she would grumble about it. 😀 I also have a long red velvet Monsoon dress I bought in the nineties that I loved but again rarely wear. I tend to dress more casually now but makes me think maybe I should take a leaf out of your book and revive them both. Inspired by you, I have recently started wearing my two pairs of suede knee length Toast boots in blue and rust that I bought in their sale years ago and I kept because I love them but thought I was too old for, and have had a lot of compliments about them. They make me feel more glamorous too. Most of the clothes I really love are the old ones I have kept because I couldn’t bear to part with them and they tend to be much better quality than modern clothes (like your cardigan).

    • 7th May 2019 at 8:10 am

      That coat sounds just wonderful and I’d love to see you wearing it Umi! The thing about casual is good, because, truly, wear what you want and is right for you and the occasion, but you could always put one slightly glam item with the casual. For example, the suede boots have worked for you.

      And Umi, there is one rule! You’re never, ever, too old to wear stuff!!!!!

  • 5th May 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Not that old, but I still have and wear a black Jean Muir silk knitted t shirt with a square neck, bought in 1988, also, and more remarkable, 4 agnes b cottonshort sleeved fitted t shirts bought in 1989 which I still wear – they’ve been washed and washed but have never lost their shape, and though pricey at the time, have more than paid for themselves. Happy days: I recently bought a long sleeved top from the same shop which went into holes on the 3rd washing.

    • 7th May 2019 at 8:22 am

      Ah Jean Muir and Agnes B t-shirts – such quality items. Yes, and the wear they have and the longevity – we must actually go back to that for the sake of the planet. Will be writing about this topic shortly. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • 5th May 2019 at 7:11 pm

    OMG I can match you! Mortified xxxx

    • 7th May 2019 at 10:12 am


  • 5th May 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Does it count if it’s an item that was handed down to me by my mother? I have a red winter coat that I still love that is older than I am, and still looks amazing!!

    • 7th May 2019 at 9:29 am

      Older than you are – wow, just wow! So interesting that there are items of clothing out there that not only last a long time they also look good! Have a great week, Jodie xxx

  • 5th May 2019 at 7:21 pm

    Love your cardigan – you could still wear it out, you know (be good over leggings). My most-worn item, is a long, split-fronted denim skirt, made from recycled jeans, that I’ve had in its current form for around 20 years. Its provenance goes back perhaps another five years or so. Or another repurposed piece: a wonderful wrap made from 1950s silk scarves, which were previously made into a handkerchief hem dress that I bought in the Kings Road in the mid-70s and wore to many parties in my teens. Had it unpicked and remade, backed with silk, around 10 years ago. So the components began life well before I was born and live on in their third incarnation. The multi-colours in the wrap look wonderful with just about anything. Even leggings.

    • 7th May 2019 at 9:41 am

      I couldn’t wear the long cardi as daytime outerwear as it’s so associated in my mind now with bedtime wear – I would feel as though I was out in my pyjamas 🙂

      Your up-cycled garments sound wonderful.

  • 5th May 2019 at 10:09 pm

    I still have and wear an Aran cardigan purchased in Shannon in 1970!
    The buttons are crocheted balls.

    • 7th May 2019 at 9:33 am

      Oh I remember those Arans with crocheted balls for buttons! Aran knitwear is gorgeous as is Fair Isle. Actually I love all the knitwear that comes from the north including Danish and Icelandic knitwear but Norwegian, not so much. 1970! That’s good 🙂

  • 5th May 2019 at 10:41 pm

    I still have and wear a jumper that my Mam bought for me when I was 14!.Im 64 now,It was from Marks and Spencer and I loved it and wore it all the time.It sat in the bottom of my wardrobe when I got married at 20 for about 10 years.Then one winter,I dug it out and started wearing it again..although it has gone very thin on the elbows after all these years!,xx

    • 7th May 2019 at 9:36 am

      Amazing! We have to somehow go back to that quality and longevity that clothes once had. I wonder if we can – will be writing about this shortly.

  • 6th May 2019 at 7:03 am

    Last year I threw out a swim suit that my mother bought for a school trip to Germany when I was 14, I’m 73 now. Was I rash?

    • 7th May 2019 at 9:38 am

      Rash? What a hoot! I remember those swimming cossies, and their style and shape, which are to some eyes quite fashionable now. So interesting that we all have these ‘old’ items – thanks for your comment 🙂

  • 6th May 2019 at 7:41 am

    That’s amazing wear for a cardigan! What great value. Maybe the 70s will come back into fashion (well they definitely will because fashion is nowadays all about decades recycling themselves). I had a good think about my oldest item. I don’t hang on to things very much. It’s probably my “Rupert Bear” trousers from the early 1990s. I still wear them. And also my first wedding dress from 1987, although that will never be in fashion again!

    • 7th May 2019 at 9:58 am

      In Brighton there are loads of expensive vintage shops with 70s and 80s stuff which I really don’t like. 50s clothes are fine and can be quite lovely and there are a couple of shops that sell new 50s style clothes – sadly beyond my budget.

      And wow re: your wedding dress. Still got mine, which was bought in 1973. It’s very 70s but it’s OK and all I need is a fancy dress or 70s themed party!

  • 6th May 2019 at 7:43 am

    Good for you (all of you!) for keeping and using some cherished clothes. I, too, have some that I can’t bear to get rid of but did finally donate a couple of long dresses to charity that I had worn at university in Canada, one a bridesmaid’s dress (lasted much longer than my friend’s marriage!) in the late 1960s. I pinned little notes to the dresses and hope that a very slim young woman will buy and enjoy them as much as I did.

    • 7th May 2019 at 10:01 am

      That’s just such a lovely thing do re: the notes. So thoughtful.

  • 6th May 2019 at 9:33 am

    I also bought my oldest garment at a market in Italy in 1993. It is an orange patterned sleeveless tunic top with a collar and buttons down the front (sounds horrendous, but it’s really not). I wear it every summer over jeans or leggings.

    • 7th May 2019 at 9:43 am

      There must be something about the material used for those clothes found in markets in Italy then – maybe they were experimenting with the cloth??? My cardi is indestructible, and lovely to hear you’re still wearing your tunic top 🙂

  • 6th May 2019 at 6:35 pm

    That cardigan must be indestructible! You look fab in the 1970s pictures btw…

    My oldest garment gets aired about once or twice a year is a linen, flared, kimono type jacket. I bought it in the early 1990s; around 1994/1995, I think. It’s made by ‘Androgyny’ and could be worn by either sex. That makes it 24/25 years old – just a teenager to your adult cardigan!

    Hope you have a great weekend.

    • 7th May 2019 at 10:06 am

      It is indestructible! And here’s the thing about 10 years later I knitted a Kaffe Fasset cardigan in naturally the best quality wool as directed by the pattern. About 5 years ago I had to throw it out as it wore out quite quickly (as in about 10 years) and then I darned it and darned it until the sleeves were threadbare and practically all darn. It also went out of shape. Meanwhile the obviously cheap and synthetic cardi had not a single hole or sign of wear!

      Have a lovely week xxx

  • 6th May 2019 at 8:59 pm

    Oh Penny, I so understand the charm of an old friend, a go-to garment. My daughter has a huge coffee and cream cardi – shawl collar, and sleeves wide enough to hold tucked-in hands – which has been of great comfort to her at sad times over the years. It’s at least 25 years old but still hangs in her wardrobe, ready to give her a hug. She also has a pair of olg fashioned fur-backed gauntlet gloves, probably pre-war, which live on her dressing table (it’s a big one). She lives in America, so when she wants to touch home she just picks on up and inhales the very very) faint perfume of her late grandmother. That, and her huggy cardigan, never fail!

    Your own precious cardi is obviously a keeper! 🙂 Like you and others, I too, keep clothes a long time. After all, we bought them in the first place because we liked them, didn’t we? I just can’t understand people who buy to wear once and then discard. Mind you, it does the likes of thee and me a good turn!

    • 7th May 2019 at 10:16 am

      That’s a lovely comment Zepherine, and I’m glad your daughter has memories of her grandmother through those gloves. And you’re just reminded me, but I think I have some items from my maternal grandmother so those would be very very old. I don’t wear them – but will go and look for them right now! Thank you 🙂

  • 7th May 2019 at 12:19 am

    Hi Penny, I love the cardigan and possibly even more for its longevity! I don’t have anything which has lasted very long (too many house moves and decluttering sessions!), apart from a silk scarf from the mid eighties. How lovely that you have something of such quality and that you love and use. There are some items of clothing I wistfully regret throwing out, a black jumper specifically with gold, red and blue around the neck. With that in mind, I am going to be much more careful about the things I get rid of the future (whist balancing that against living in a tiny house and having too much stuff!!). Love you blog and so look forward to every post. xx

    • 7th May 2019 at 10:10 am

      Yes, I agree that one can do too much de-cluttering, because I sometimes look for an item and then go – oh yes it went! Over the years I have decluttered++++ But that’s good because we can always look for pre-loved and continue the recycling of clothes that might otherwise be put into landfill or burnt in those huge incinerators. Thank you so much for your comment and feedback which is much appreciated!

  • 7th May 2019 at 2:06 pm

    Hi Penny,
    This was a very interesting blog and has provoked a lot of lovely comments. My oldest item still in use is a Monsoon dress bought for my neice’s wedding in June 1997, it is very lovely, I wore it for the evening reception but the weather was so cold I had to eventually put a sweater on top of it!
    I also have a beautiful Black Watch Tartan Mohair scarf bought in 1966 for my mam by my brother when he was at Edinburgh University. It’s so warm I can wear it only when the weather is absolutely freezing, lovely to still have it though and I can remember how much she loved it.
    I remember wearing cardigans like yours, they were so comfortable and wearable. I had a navy one from M&S, it was in a sort of Boucle knit and very thick and warm, I wore it for years for driving and often wish I could find something similar.
    Like you I wish clothes were still of that quality, I hate to see such cheap rubbish in the shops. I once saw in a supermarket that their clothes were guaranteed for 30 days, what a shameful waste. Attitudes need to change.
    Thank you, I always enjoy your blog.
    Best Wishes

    • 8th May 2019 at 7:07 am

      Thank you so much for commenting Chrissie – and yes, we must change. It’s so important now with these reports coming out on the end of so many species – will be touching on this soon as I have a half-written post on just that.

      Lovely that you have your mother’s scarf. I have some of my mother’s jewellery but no clothes, However, this post has reminded me that I have 3 items owned by my grandmother. Not sure where they are so am looking for them.

  • 7th May 2019 at 3:38 pm

    I still have dressses from the 70s, but not worn regularly, and second hand vintage items going back further, but the still regularly worn items include scarves and belts bought in the 1970s, the black 1980 leather handbag I bought instead of a wedding dress ( I wore a dress I had already), a jumper a friend knitted in 1986, a Dorothy Perkins crew neck black cardican bought in 1987.

    • 8th May 2019 at 7:11 am

      Oh wow Lynn – you are such a good example of someone who retains the very best of their clothes for ever. Despite my view that we should declutter and weed out our wardrobes I also believe that we should keep our valued quality clothes.

      And how brilliant that you bought a handbag instead of a wedding dress! Mine was off-the-peg and I still have it 🙂

  • 7th May 2019 at 4:04 pm

    I love this topic! I have a pair of sandals from the mid-nineties, so they’re going on a quarter century. They are tan leather thong/flipflop style with about a dozen little strips of leather that come across each side of the foot, attaching at the center thong part. I remember paying around US$89, which was entirely too much (I thought), but I just needed sandals and just wanted to be done with it. I could never have imagined I’d wear these every spring and summer at least once a week, and they’d still be going! I can’t believe those little strips of leather haven’t broken. The leather is still supple, and the soles seem indestructible. They look and feel good, can be dressed up or down–I just love them! They are showing a minor amount of wear on the insole these days, but once they’re on my foot that doesn’t show. I did have a beautiful, dark blue silk button-down blouse from about 1988, but when I looked for it recently, I realized I had let it go. What a dummy I was–but I’m confident somebody else is enjoying it now.

    • 8th May 2019 at 7:14 am

      The sandals sound great and amazing they’ve worn so well, but leather is the best. Yes, amazing that the soles are still so good!!!

  • 7th May 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Penny, off the top of my head it would be my 17 year old denim jacket which now sounds positively juvenile. Thanks for linking up

    • 8th May 2019 at 7:02 am

      That’s a good age, Anna!

      No problem linking – thanks for hosting. Btw I thought your post yesterday so interesting I wrote a long comment but do tell me, have you got it yet? I write a comment most weeks and always think they’ve disappeared for moderation – is that the case? I know WordPress has its quirks but all platforms these days are a bit tricky. Thank you for commenting here 🙂

  • 7th May 2019 at 5:12 pm

    I have a coat with a calf length full skirt that I’ve had for at least 20 years. I’d like to replace it but I can’t find anything like it. It looks so good with my ‘cossack’ style boots and can go over fuller longer skirts, especially the grey wool one I bought at least 15 years ago. I wear it when it’s very cold. I also have a fine wool mix black top which is a cross between a polo and a cowl neck. I bought it in a charity shop many years ago and I can’t let it go because I can’t replace it. It has laddered near the lower edge but I’ve sewn it up and wear something over it to disguise the mending! It is so useful. I have a lovely fine boucle tweed Viyella suit in maroon and green which has a half velvet collar. It is about 20 years old How I loved it when I was working but I suspect it no longer fits. I parted with my only ever Jaeger suit a while ago. I’ve still got my wedding dress from 1970 but it is far too small, I weighed well under 8 stone then, now closer to 9!

    • 8th May 2019 at 7:16 am

      Ooh Lynda you must be tiny weighing only 8 stone and now closer to 9! Lovely that you’ve kept those quality items. I’ve still got my wedding dress and might get it out to show everyone. Thanks so much for your comment 🙂

  • 7th May 2019 at 6:24 pm

    Sorry, I know I’ve already commented here but I’ve just checked my emails and I have one from our local and lovely department store offering me a discount if I surrender my current handbag to purchase a new one priced at £150 to £299 ! Really, this needs to stop, does anyone need to spend this much on a bag? I expect they will be made in China like everything else we can buy now!

    • 8th May 2019 at 7:18 am

      I don’t get the fascination with bags never mind the expense which I don’t get at all. Mind you, I do have a thing for coats so kind of understand. But we have to cut our consumption. Can we? I so hope we do, individually and as nation, and come to some agreement about this across the world. Have a lovely week and thanks for the comments which are much appreciated.

  • 8th May 2019 at 8:48 am

    Riccone ….. I was there in 1972 and for the next 30 years and over that period bought lots of sweaters, cardigans, shoes, handbags, sandals, belts. I’m still using a handbag I bought there 30 years ago. I no longer have the woollens because they went out of style or no longer fit, but the quality was just amazing. I have and use handbags and scarves which date back to the sixties. Bruno Magli shoes bought in 1993 and an M & S heavy cotton coatigan bought even earlier are in constant wear. Why do we no longer have the quality we had then?

    Riccione ……. Just loved that town and miss it so much. I no longer visit as my husband won’t fly.

    Susan D

Comments are closed.