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Deluxe Denim

When to Get Rid of and What to Do With Old Jeans


Denim is the wine of fabrics -- its individual flavor and personality only get better with age. So why on earth would you ever need to let a pair go?

Even if you treat your jeans as your beloved babies, chances are one day you're going to have to let them go. This can be one of the most difficult decisions for any sartorially minded gentleman. When is it time to let go? How to say goodbye? And to where shall they go? A red flag is if your closet looks like it has been taken over by a race of unruly denim aliens. A good rule of thumb for jean hoarders (you know who you are) is to sacrifice a pair every time you purchase a new one. Don't save that pair you used to fit into in college, or whenever--the last thing you need judging you are your old jeans. And hey, you already grew out of them; if you do ever achieve a target size or weight again, go get yourself a brand new pair to celebrate! Everyone's made mistakes. You know what we're talking about. Sure, styles come and go, but get rid of that pair of jeans you can't fathom why you bought in the first place or never ever wore. Now you've got a sad pile of old denim before you -- what next? First and foremost -- do not throw them out. Ever. Denim is way too robust, alive, and universal to meet its doom in some noisome trash dump. Before you do anything, think about converting them into shorts -- you may be able to wear them yet! Also, think of your friends, coworkers, and family -- or your cleaning person and gardener! Wouldn't you want something as personal as your jeans to live on in the wardrobe of someone who you know will appreciate them? Salvation Army or Goodwill may come to mind, but isn't that just a little too impersonal? A more thoughtful way to donate denim is to go even more local. School art programs, especially in low-income areas, are always looking for raw materials, and Habitat for Humanity has been harnessing denim's strength as insulation for a few years. Quick research could also yield a denim drive going on right in your own neighborhood. Lack a bleeding heart or just really need cash? There's always eBay, Craigslist, and, if they're designer, consignment. But perhaps you're just way too attached to say goodbye forever. Fret not -- there are a few crafty projects that could take your relationship with that old pair of jeans to a new level, rather than to an end. Turn them into pot holders (add a layer or two of table felt or Insul-Bright), covers for photo albums, coffee and beer cozies, a jacket, key chains, bookmarks, throw pillow covers, placemats, or even a picture frame. Depending on your skill or tolerance for arts and crafts, you'll probably want to seek some knowledgeable hands to help. There's no denying the zippity high of strutting out of a store with a fresh pair of perfectly fitting, brand new jeans. It's good to know that letting go of them can also sometimes have the same kind of appeal.
30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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