A while ago, I saw a fun piece on Well + Good called 5 Activewear Pieces You Need to Get Rid of ASAP, and I thought it was interesting enough that we should do our own take on it. These are my best suggestions for the five kinds of workwear pieces you need to get rid of ASAP — what are yours? In general, how do you know when to throw out workwear?
(Throughout this post, I’ve tried to sprinkle suggestions for recycling rather than trashing, as well as adding to the Further Reading section below, but stay tuned: We’ll do a separate post on the best ways to recycle your workwear, because there’s a lot of info.
(Update: Here’s our post on where to recycle, donate, and sell your work clothes!)
In general, note that each location of Dress for Success has its own guidelines for what they’ll accept; H&M will always accept old clothes for recycling from any brand in any condition in exchange for a coupon; and some cities have special options for recycling clothing.
See, for example, this post on the partnership between NYC’s Department of Sanitation and Housing Works, or this piece on clothing recycling in North Carolina — both will hopefully give you a good idea of what to Google in your city.)
This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!
1. Workwear Pieces to Get Rid of ASAP: Anything That Can’t Be De-Pilled.
Take a good look at your pieces made of ponte, tweed, and other knits. On dresses, you may see pilling on the armpits and seat; on pants, you may notice it along the inner thighs as well as the seat. A de-pilling device like this or even this (affiliate link) can work wonders — but if not, it’s probably time to throw the piece away.
2. Anything That Came Back Yucky From the Dry Cleaners
When older suits made of triacetate start coming back “shiny” in spots (particularly at the seams), that can be a sign the garment has seen better days. We’ve talked about how to deal when your clothes smell and drycleaning just doesn’t help, as well, with a lot of great reader suggestions in that post.
3. Anything with Stains That Don’t Come Out
Oil/grease stains, printer ink stains, bleach stains — sometimes you just can’t save an item. Depending on where the stain is, however, you (or some savvy thrift store shopper) may be able to repurpose the piece.
4. Undergarments That You’re Not Wearing Anymore
This one may be a stretch for workwear, but if you have a big division in your lingerie drawer between “daytime/office lingerie” and “date night/bedroom lingerie,” it may be worth assessing separately. Note that sometimes you can donate old bras — Soma often offers a percentage off if you bring in an old bra during one of their donation drives.
Otherwise, eye them with suspicion and get them out of your closet — even if you’ve kept stuff in hopes of changing sizes, because unfortunately, items with elastics and a high component of stretch in the fabric do not hold up well over time. (Update: It looks like H&M and other clothing recycling programs will even accept old (clean) underwear, so… yay!)
5. “Fast Fashion” Shoes and Bags That Are Falling Apart
We’ve rounded up vegan shoe brands in the past, and there are shoe care products designed for these kinds of shoes — but if you’ve bought ultra-budget shoes from Payless or other fast fashion brands (I’m thinking Zara, Topshop, H&M, Mango, etc.), then a scuff, rip, or other minor damage could be fatal to the shoe and render it unwearable for anyone.
Do check out Soles for Souls, though, and see if there’s a donation spot nearby. (I’m curious if anyone’s company has a drive for these kinds of things so that you can make donations en masse!)
Over to you guys: What are your best tips on how to know when to throw out workwear? When you donate old workwear, where do you donate it? When you recycle old workwear and other clothes and textiles, where do you recycle?
- An Illustrated Guide to Donating and Selling Old Clothes [Real Simple]
- Clothing Stores that Recycle Donations [PureWow]
- Where Can I Donate Business Suits I Don’t Need? [The Balance]
- Find Your Local Dress For Success Affiliate [Dress For Success]
- How to Recycle Old Clothing (Even Ratty Ass Old Underwear) [Trash Is For Tossers]
- How to Recycle Corporate Workwear [RecycleNow]
- Where to Donate Used or Old Clothes to Charity [Moneycrashers]
- What Really Happens When I Put My Clothes in a Donation Bin? [Grist]
Stock photo via Deposit Photos / londondeposit.
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Lana Del Raygun
Please do not donate your stained clothes to Dress for Success!
This post feels like KonMari clickbait to me. Stained, torn, or otherwise worn-out clothing is kind of a no brainer to remove and trash/recycle.
More useful would be (1) subtle signs that a garment is outdated — like your “classic” suit from 10 years ago now looks dated because of the thick waistband/thin belt loop situation, or the lapels are too big, (2) sifting through the linked articles to provide a convenient summary of how to recycle textiles or of stores running promotions for bringing in old clothes to recycle, (3) reviews of de-pillers or stain specialist products…….
I need a new name
This article from YLF has some good suggestions: https://youlookfab.com/2019/01/28/eight-responsible-ways-to-pass-on-wardrobe-items/
I did learn about some recycling options I wasn’t aware of before, so I’d disagree that this was clickbait. But really, every time I read an article along these lines, it makes me want to buy LESS stuff that’s better quality. Good on H&M for offering a recycling program, but fast fashion stores are part of the problem.
I wouldn’t call this clickbait. I’m sure the aim was to attract traffic from searches, but Kat includes substance. It’s also a more interesting way to include links to previous posts than just a list. I doubt existing, regular commenters were the target audience, but the Kat & team know that commenters rarely engage on the substantive posts anyway. At least half a dozen times in the last year, I’ve been interested in a substantive post and happy to see ~35 comments — only to find that someone has threadjacked and most of the replies are Zika free travel suggestions.
LOL and I mostly agree :)
That’s how this place works, though.
I hired a professional organizer/declutterer a few years ago and her website has an AMAZING list of resources for where you can get rid of/donate pretty much everything imaginable, from crayons to wedding dressings — including professional women’s clothes, of course! For anyone currently on the Kondo bandwagon, hope this helps:
Does anyone have a good communications-focused small group activity? I need to plan a 15-30 minute activity for a group of seven that desperately needs to work on basic group communication and team-building in order to meet some big goals.
We did this at a criminal defense lawyer conference aimed at improving communication with our clients so not sure if it will be helpful to your situation but was by far the best activity on improving communication I have ever seen. What we did was broke out into pairs, then each person told their partner a short explanation of something they went through that was difficult for them. Could be as deep and personal as you wanted to get or could be something more mundane. But then the other person had to tell their partner’s story to the group and communicate both the facts and how the person felt. It is really hard to do and really hard to be the person sitting there hearing your story told by someone else. Makes you realize what you missed while listening and what you failed to communicate in telling your story.
Thanks for the input. I came across this idea in some research. It sounds really hard but potentially really helpful. Thanks!
What about Telephone Pictionary? It’s a silly game that really illustrates (literally, ha) how easily communication can go sideways with a lack of context.
2. stack of blank index cards, sorted into piles. Each pile has 1 index card per number of people, so in your case you would have 7 stacks of 7 each.
Each round is approximately 1 minute.
For the first round, everyone writes a sentance, which must include a subject and verb.
“The angry bear chased the tiny ferret out of his cave”
“The Backstreet Boys reunion concert made the crowd go crazy”
“It’s hard playing Tetris when your hands are full of Twizzlers”
When the minute is up, pass the stack of cards to the left, leaving the sentence card on top.
Everyone reads the sentence, then moves that sentence card to the back of the stack. On the top blank card, you illustrate the sentence the best you can.
Leaving the picture card on top, pass the stacks to the left. Once everyone absorbs the picture, move that card to the back of the stack and write a sentence describing the picture.
Next round: Passing the stack, sentence on top, draw the sentence.
Next round: Pass the stack, picture on top, write the sentence.
And so on until you get your original stack back.
Then hilarity ensues.
It truly does not matter if people are good artists, but it absolutely reinforces that good, clear communication is necessary for team success.
It will also definitely break the ice, and keeps everyone engaged.
There is a board game with this exact activity, called Telestrations, that I use with teams for teambuilding. It comes with cards that have phrases on them and erasable notebooks, which makes setup for the activity a lot easier.
We play Twister at work. It is a great group exercise, as long as no one like Frank comes in and squeezes our bodies for HIS pleasure. My sister, Rosa, became very good at Twister, and wound up marrying Ed, when he and she got into a very family-like position playing against each other. And they had their clotheing ON! You can only imagine what they did when they got back to their hotel room! I wish I found a guy like Ed to MARRY me. I would not mind having $ex with a guy like him almost every nite! YAY!!!!
I think the actual answers should be: 1. that pencil skirt that looks perfectly cute but always rotates around when you’re walking. 2. The heels that feel comfortable when you put them on in your house but start to cut into you/slide off as soon as you are actually walking in public. 3. the black cardigan that you’ve had forever that you keep just in case but is just a little too faded/stretched out to actually wear except in case of emergency. 4. the dress that used to be your fave but is just a wee bit too tight in the hips since your last pregnancy/holiday overindulgence, that looks okay when you stand up real straight in front of the mirror but starts to ride up indecently if you walk in it. 5. the beige sweater that is perfectly nice but just a liiittle too close to your skin color.
Yes! All these!
this list made me chuckle. I know exactly what you’re referring to. I’m a senior in college so I don’t have much experience in the professional workforce, but do have items of clothing that I hang on to just because or just in case or for emergencies but that I should really throw out!
Add to this awesome list (and I’m afraid I have some closet cleaning to do!)
… anything that makes you afraid to eat, drink, or breathe.
… anything that makes you ask “does this make me look ____?” and not in a good way.
… anything that makes you think “Why the he l l did I wear this?” several times during the day.
… any undergarment you deem as the most uncomfortable article of clothing ever.
… anything that makes you feel like people are looking at you — and not in a good way.
… any shoes you can’t walk in. No matter how cute they are, no matter how hot they are, no matter how sexy they make your legs and a$$ look, if you can’t walk in them, they aren’t any use to you. Unless you hit the lottery, nobody’s going to carry you around, and just what are the chances of that!