[permaculture] How many wearings for a cotton shirt?

Kai Vido kaivido at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 13 16:51:56 EDT 2006

Reading this thread, I think of the longest-lasting article of clothing I have ever seen: a
peasant shirt made of hemp cloth that was worn by my great-grandfather in Slovakia over one
hundred years ago. In storage for years, it now belongs to my father who wears it each summer. It
is a truly durable and surprisingly comfortable piece of clothing. Though hand-made, the
equivalent boughten product may have cost my ancestor two weeks' wages. A pair of boots could have
cost two or three months' average salary. Life expectancy of same? Twenty or more years of daily

We get what we pay for (or, as the locals say, "Y'pay for what y'get"), and usually treat it
accordingly. Even though a shirt or pair of boots today costs far less than $800 or $4000
(poverty-line salary estimate), we can still buy the best and treat our belongings with care and

P.S. Beware of the modern hemp clothing--some of it is a far cry from what I have described,
speaking from personal experience...

kai vido

--- yarrow at sfo.com wrote:

> Clothes and shoes last longer if you have more than one set, so that 
> you can rotate use. So how long things last depends on whether you 
> have one or two (or more) items that you are using over and over.
> How fabric is cared for and stored may contribute more to its 
> longevity than how it is used. When I had wool jackets, one season of 
> inattention meant the wool-eating larvae got a head start (pheromone 
> traps are a great way to prevent this kind of damage). Also, how soon 
> do you launder after each use -- do you let chemicals or dirt degrade 
> the fabric over a day, a week, or more? Do you make sure all items to 
> be stored are clean? Strangely enough, some deodorants may degrade 
> fabrics sooner. Do you use bleach and harsh detergents, or gentler 
> cleaning products? Hand wash or vigorous washing-machine cycles? Air 
> dry or machine dry? When a small hole or tear appears, do you ignore 
> it, or attend to it right away?
> How you care for yourself is another important factor. Do you 
> anticipate being the same size in 5 years, or 10 years? Even if you 
> have never gained weight, age can add pounds or horizontal inches if 
> you don't pay attention.
> Often clothes are as likely to get lost as grown out of. Accidents 
> happen, too -- can't plan ahead for those.
> If you're interested in having "enough" clothes to last for some 
> extended amount of time, learn to sew and repair, and perhaps stock 
> up on fabric, thread, buttons, etc. as well.
> >Cotton Tshirt, -- have never worn one out
> >Cotton jeans or heavy work pants, -- have worn holes in the knees in 
> >maybe 3 pairs in 20+ years
> >Cotton underwear -- 1-5 years
> >Wool blanket,-- I stopped buying wool a couple decades ago, but I 
> >have a soft wool blanket that I've used every day for decades that 
> >is at least 50 years old, and looks like it can easily last another 
> >50 or 100 years
> >Cotton socks, 1-5 years, depends on what kind of shoes you wear and 
> >what you're doing with your feet (sitting, working in the garden, 
> >etc.), and how well you keep your toenails clipped
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