Let’s face it, regardless how much we spend on buying or tailoring quality shirts, they won’t last forever. The shirting fabric also undergoes the same wear and tear process as your other garments. It doesn’t matter whether you picked it up from the bargain bin, or had it custom tailored. Eventually, every piece of garment wears out. But what do you do with worn-out shirts? Do you take them out of rotation immediately? Perhaps donate them for a better cause? Or do you wear them until they literally fall apart, before relegating them to floor rags?
Shirts Bind Your Outfit Together
We’ve shared how shirts are the essential binder to tie your whole outfit together. If you’ve missed it, check it out here. Today, we’re gonna explore more about how to manage your shirt wardrobe, especially worn-out ones. Without a doubt, the main influence for your decision is the price of the shirt itself. If you picked that shirt out from the bargain bin, you won’t think twice of pulling it out of rotation. You can give it away, designate it as your “dirty” manual labour clothes, or even use them as floor rags.
But what about a custom tailored shirt? What if it cost you a pretty penny to purchase that particular shirt back in the day? That decision then becomes a little more difficult. Ideally, we’d want to get the most wear out of any garment. Especially so when we pay more money for it than the others.
Shirts Wear Out At Different Rates And At Different Parts
This may come as a surprise, but shirts wear out at different rates at different parts. The parts that come in direct contact with your skin suffer the most wear. Abrasion with your skin accelerates the fibre breakdown, and exposure to sweat causes discolouration. Let’s take a look at some typical wear and tear of a shirt :-
(1) Collar Discolouration Wear
It may not be obvious from the example above, but here’s a close-up of the collar. The collar is the first to discolour due to the prolonged contact with the exposed neck. And it’s more prominent on a solid white shirt.
The yellowing isn’t a colour deriving from another source, but a stain from prolonged exposure to sweat. Hence, you can’t launder the yellow stain out by using any detergent or bleach. There’s literally nothing that you can do to remove the yellow stain once it sets.
(2) Sleeve Cuff Discolouration Wear
Just like the collar, sleeve cuffs are in constant contact with the wrists. Hence, cuffs undergo the same yellowing process as the collar too. This is more prominent for double cuffs, as the folded cuff behaves exactly like the collar of the shirt.
(3) Collar Fray Wear
The crease of the collar fold undergoes the highest amount of mechanical stress. That plus the constant abrasion with the skin causes the collar fold to accelerate the fibre breakdown. And this ultimately results in the fraying of the fabric along the crease line of the collar fold.
You can probably try to hide a small, barely visible fray, but all the small frays will eventually add up. And once it has reached the example above, it’s time to pull it out of your wardrobe rotation.
Shirts Wear For Coloured Or Patterned Shirts
You can’t hide wear and tear on a solid white shirt. Even the slightest hint of yellowing will show up like a sore thumb. But a coloured or patterned shirt is a little more forgiving. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t undergo the same wear and tear process. They just hide the wear and tear a little better than a solid white shirt. Let’s take a look at some typical examples of a non-white shirt.
(1) Solid Light Blue Shirt
Solid coloured shirts exhibit similar traits to solid white shirts. The only difference is that the darker the colour, the more forgiving it is. The yellowing doesn’t show up as obviously as on white shirts, especially in the early stages.
Whilst coloured shirts fair slightly better than white shirts, they still undergo the same amount of wear and tear. The only advantage is that the damage is less visible on coloured shirts. And the darker the colour, the less visible the damage is.
(2) Patterned Shirt
Generally speaking, patterned shirts are even more forgiving than solid coloured shirts. The high contrast patterns tend to hide any damage caused by the natural wear and tear process better.
I didn’t bother with the sleeve cuff of this shirt, as it’s near impossible to see the yellowing. But remove the coloured stripes, it’s just as visible as the other two shirts.
Can You Save A Worn Out Shirt?
Has any of your favourite shirts worn out pretty badly? Can’t bear getting rid of it because of the amount of money you spent purchasing it? Or perhaps it represents sentimental memories of your loved ones? Well, don’t worry too much about it. It’s pretty obvious by now that the wear and tear happens the most along the collar folds and sleeve cuffs. You can still save it as long as the rest of the shirt is in good condition.
Come back for the next episode where we’ll explore how we can save your worn-out favourite shirts. You can probably prolong the shirt’s lifespan by two fold, maybe even three. In the meantime, do share your experience with your own shirts. And feel free to leave a comment below the poll too.