Clothes, garments, attire… where would we be without body fabric? Naked, obviously. But on a deeper, more physiological level, without a wardrobe full of the latest threads (look, I'm really running out of words to describe clothes,) life can sometimes feel a bit 2000 and late.
It's a sad situation when I don't have enough clothes to see me through a week of #OOTD posts. Usually this happens on a Sunday, when that feeling of intense paranoia and despair can mostly be attributed to too many Sipsmiths and tonic - FYI that gin is incredible - but whatever, having a varied wardrobe can, on one hugely disgusting and highly superficial level, seem like a pretty big thumbs up at life.
But who caters to my changeable wardrobe tastes? ? Net-a-Porter? Oh come on, I work in journalism, I can barely afford a Co Op lunch. It's my friends, and their fresh meat wardrobes (not literal fresh meat, that would be gross and unflattering – see Lady Gaga).
In this brave new world of over-sharing, swapping clothes with your nearest and dearest is de rigueur. Why spend money on buying new shit when you can borrow from your friends instead? Especially if you live with them. Three wardrobes for the price of one? The sartorial equivalent of a refillable Coke? GOALLL!!!! As I imagine Kate Lawler to say.
But this is where the situation becomes a bit murky, as clothes sharing is fraught with difficulties, unforeseen problems and blatant perversions of trust.
So you don't lose friends on the quest for outfit variety, I suggest you abide by the following commandments. Names have been changed* to protect those affected by my abysmal behavior...
Thou shall not borrow for borrowings sake
I lived with two girls (in fact, I've only ever lived these two girls, so, if you're reading this *Perry and Demily - sorry) who happen to be a lot shorter than me, by more than 7 inches, but I still managed to borrow their goods. I had to draw the line at shoes, because toes are rigid little shits, but the point is, clothes are sized for a reason. They may stretch, but they may never stretch back. Mostly when they rip. Soz.
Thou shall not spill curry sauce on silk
For some illogical reason, the same kind of twisted logic that means you come on your period during a flight when you don't even have a crumpled, year-old Tampax Compax to hand because you're 21 days early, as soon as you shove on an item of clothing that's not yours, the stakes are raised so high, everything becomes a hazard. Talking, walking, drinking, eating, pissing, every activity is fraught with danger and will conclude in spilling Tikka Masala down said item when you lose focus.
**Thou shall not steal **
Even though you know that suede skirt should have been yours, but an eagle-eyed mate spotted it in Topshop first, does not mean it’s yours for the taking. I once commandeered a vest top (a fucking £8 synthetic cropped vest) for a year because I told myself it was the perfect cut and I would never find one that matched its hanging prowess. In fact, I think I still have it. God, this process is becoming increasingly cathartic...
Thou shall not rummage through dirty laundry (that's not your own)
You know when you've got the perfect outfit planned in your head the night before but then remember an item of that outfit is not in fact yours and you'll have to sneak in to your friends room in the morning to get it? Yeah, that. But then imagine not finding it, then rummaging through her actual dirty laundry bag to try and find it and assess (sniff) to see if it's still OK to wear. Dear god.
Thou shall not be papped in stolen clothing
One time I borrowed this OAP style M&S camel coat from Demily, who knew I was obsessed with it but wore it so often she couldn't part ways with it. One night, my need to emulate Dot Cotton was so strong that I took it, and wore it to an event where party photography was still a thing. As was sharing party photos on the Internet. While we all looked through the gallery for lols, neither of us admitted to knowing that I stole it. But I was silently judged. And I never saw the coat again. Basically if you're gonna borrow, make sure there's no pictorial evidence.
Thou shall not claim an item as your own
Unless you're me, where even a bloody vest top is worth borrowing, you're probably going to opt for either a high value or shiny peacock piece, as in, clothing that will result in comments like, “OMG, that jacket is amazing!” and “Erm, where did you get that from, you look great?!”. You'll thank them and nod in agreement... who are you kidding, you're British, so you'll just end up going red and mumbling something about you looking ugly tonight, but whatever you do, do not claim it as your star buy.
Thou shall not allow second-hand borrowing
Does this even require an explanation? Why in hell would you allow someone to borrow something that you have already borrowed from someone else and not given back. Oh yeah, I did, and I've never seen it since. Nor has Perry, ahem.
**Thou shall not go on a home invasion. Wardrobe edition **
Last year, my friend went away on holiday and when she came back, half her wardrobe was missing. Granted, she fucked off out of the country for a few weeks, but I’m sure she wanted her IRL (as in, something more substantial than a beach kimono) wardrobe to root through when she got home. Piece by piece, items were miraculously found in the washing basket, or hanging up, but mostly they were found lying in her housemate’s bedroom. Not cool, and a really lazy approach at hiding the evidence.
**Though shall not be tight **
If you want to borrow clothes from your friends, you better be damn fine with them taking from you. I'm not, but then I have a really shit wardrobe.
I'm currently wearing an American Apparel t-shirt that went missing three years ago. It's got to the point of me running up the stairs when I hear Perry coming home. That means I know what I'm doing is wrong, and that's the first stage of recovery. I'm admitting it. There, I'm a clothes thief. Shared housing is to blame, really. But there are thing you can do to make it OK...
5 ways to share without being illegal
- Be honest. If something bad happened, deal with it. Like pay for dry cleaning or a new one if it’s beyond repair/got Masala on it.
- Just ask. As in ask, and respect what the answer is - either yes or no. Not, “her mouth is saying no, but what she’s really saying is yes...”
- Know your wardrobe. Go through it and see what you've got lurking at that back. Chances are you will have forgotten about loads of it, ‘cos the Wall Street Journal reckons that we only wear about 20% of our clothes regularly. Maybe that's because the other 80% percent is gross, but it could be because you totally forgot about half of the stuff in there.
- Organise an official clothes swap. You know, those events where you swap stuff you don’t want for other peoples stuff they don’t want. Just make sure the clothes you're swapping are actually yours, not other peoples.
- GIVE THINGS BACK.
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**Follow Holly On Twitter: @Holly_Rains **
Picture: Ada Hamza
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.