Purposefully Repurposed

How do you know when it’s time to let go? When do you know an item’s life cycle is through, and it is time for something new?

It’s too easy to give up. Inhabitants of a disposable society, we all too often go out and buy something new when we tire of it, or when it falls out of fashion.

It’s wasteful.

I’ve got a denim jacket that has served me well. I can’t even remember when I bought it, but it has faded properly in all the right places. This jacket is beyond comfortable; perfect on cool summer nights, and with a collar you can pull up to shield yourself from the miserable winds in April or October.

The jacket is worn in a few spots, and a tear from a scuffle a few years back has grown from being fashionably frayed to functionally inconvenient. Except for the holes, and a few borderline threadbare spots on the seams, it’s perfect. Really.

It has seen better days.

I thought about replacing the jacket, but it represents comfort to me. It seems to get better with age; each wash fades the indigo blue a little more. Like a pair of jeans, it takes a while until they feel broken in.

It would be easy to replace, but don’t we do that enough with most everything else? You run a car for a few years, then swap it out for a newer model. It is more convenient to buy a new pair of boots than to find a cobbler and have the heels, or the sole, repaired.

We love the new and let go of the old all-too-easy.

I seriously considered another garment, but decided a new jean jacket isn’t really going to be any different than the old one. Let’s face it, the style hasn’t changed much in decades. I began wearing the wardrobe staple (then a hand-me-down from my brother) in Grade 4. In photographs, it looks much the same as the one I wore in Grade 8; or Grade 12; or later.

I’ve had more than few jean jackets in my lifetime, and this one has stuck with me for a while. I haven’t left it anywhere along my travels (so far). And did I mention it really does keep on getting more comfortable with age?

So rather than tossing it away, I decided to repair it. This has kind of been a theme of mine over the past couple of years: repair rather than replace. I’ve done it with a few long-time items. I guess I’m proving to myself that repairing, or repurposing, an everyday piece of clothing is going to add value instead of costing me.

I took the jacket, along with an pair of jeans of similar vintage, to a tailor and had a patch sewn onto the left elbow. It looks great: you can hardly tell it has been repaired. It works.

I can’t say it saved me much money (though it was worth every dollar), but it saved yet another piece of clothing from the landfill. It’s not that I‘m environmentally conscious (though I believe I am) or consciously thrifty, I’m just being practical.

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