The Fashion Journal team on the oldest items we own, and why they’ve lasted

IMAGE VIA @ellataverner/instagram

words by cait emma burke

“The ring is part of my daily uniform and has been for well over 15 years. I imagine it will be on my finger for the rest of my life.”

There are a handful of items in my wardrobe that I’ve owned for over a decade. There’s a trusty bomber jacket, family heirloom jewellery, a vintage coat, a go-to pair of ankle boots, and a few more.

This shouldn’t be that remarkable, but in the age of frighteningly fast fashion, owning an item for this long is becoming less and less common. Recent research has shown that Australians only wear half of their clothes regularly and Australian women, in particular, have a habit of only wearing an item seven times (!!) before tossing it away.

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Here at FJ, we obviously love fashion a lot, but the toll it takes on the environment is an uncomfortable reality that all fashion lovers (us included) have to grapple with in 2022. So while we enjoy supporting local and international designers and treating ourselves to new purchases here and there, we know that the most sustainable way to dress is to shop your wardrobe. Below, our team has shared the item they’ve owned the longest, and why it’s lasted the distance.

Giulia Brugliera, Fashion Journal’s Managing Editor

My Bettina Liano jeans from 2004

When I think about the type of shopper I am, I can pretty much date it back to 2004. I was 12 years old and desperate for a pair of Bettina Liano jeans, the ‘it’ item for teenage girls in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs at the time. The outlay was $220, an exorbitant price tag for a literal child who was years away from the legal working age. And still, I saved up all my money for what must have been a very long time to be able to afford them. The kicker for me was the tiny yellow ‘o’ tag and yellow stitching down the side. Those in the know would know I was wearing Bettina Liano – other opinions didn’t matter.

While I’d long admired the frayed, booty-cupping ‘rodeo’ style, my practical 12-year-old self instead opted for a very wearable, simple indigo style. It was a smart decision. I wore them for years, and still bring them out on occasion (I hit puberty early, so, despite fluctuations, my body shape and size have stayed largely the same). Over time, I think I’ve got the cost-per-wear down to about 10c. It’s proven to me that purchases that are well-selected, well-made and well-thought-out are also well worth the investment, even if it’s a really tough outlay to begin with.

Izzy Wight, Fashion Journal’s Editorial Assistant

My vintage bomber jacket from 2016


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It wasn’t until today that I realised this spur-of-the-moment purchase had been in my life now for six years. Having just moved to Melbourne from Queensland at the height of winter, I sorely underestimated how cold the weather would be here. I only owned light denim jackets and threadbare sweaters, which would simply not cut it. So as a brand-new fashion student, 19-year-old me studied the outerwear of my seasonally-equipped classmates for weeks trying to find the right jacket.

I landed on a bomber, which seemed to be the option worn by all the coolest design students. I scoured the internet until I found this one on Grailed for $250, which was all the money in my bank account – but it’s fine because it’s paid me back tenfold. It’s taken me across the world, to raves and on dates, worn over my shoulders and stuffed in various tote bags. Everyone is sick of seeing it, but it will be making a comeback this winter – and many more to come.

Sohani Goonetillake, Fashion Journal intern

My Larmoni reindeer dress from 2015

My pride and joy in high school was my Tumblr account. I don’t say this proudly – I cringe at the amount of time I spent reblogging ‘aesthetic’ photography. Think cottagecore and warm-toned aesthetics. I drew inspiration from fellow bloggers including Rebecca the Clothes Horse and this heavily influenced my style choices. I adored the way Rebecca styled her pieces and one outfit, in particular, really caught my attention. It was a bright green dress by Larmoni which had a white deer print on it. Rebecca styled it like a pinafore and wore a loose white blouse underneath.

I immediately bought the dress online and turned my wardrobe inside-out to find a white blouse. I wore that outfit so many times that my best friend gently teased, “You’re like a cartoon character, with one signature outfit”. I’m a minimal packer and I took the dress on my travels in 2019 so it’s made an appearance in many parts of the world. As I’ve grown, the dress has become scandalously short, but my sweet mother has altered it numerous times to prolong its livelihood. So many memories are attached to that dress and I think I’ll keep it in my life to pass on to family members.

Ella Taverner, Fashion Journal’s Account Manager

My mum’s Italian-leather mules, gifted to me in 2017


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My mum’s never been a huge shopper – a quality I’ve always admired and simply do not possess – and was a little ahead of the trend when it comes to owning a capsule wardrobe. Among her collection of timeless, quality basics lives a pretty expansive selection of vintage pieces dating back to the ’70s that she’s never quite parted with. I used to find it a little humorous until I developed a keen interest in vintage collectables and fashion as a teenager.

And although we’re not quite the same size when it comes to apparel, we have practically identical (very miniature) feet. About five years ago I was scavenging around in her closet when I found a pair of black, Italian-leather mules that she’d bought while living in London in the ’90s. They’re probably the comfiest shoes I own, featuring a teeny-tiny heel making them perfect for pretty much any occasion. I wear them with jeans and dresses, and pair them with tights in winter, and have no doubt I’ll be reaching for them for years to come.

Cait Emma Burke, Fashion Journal’s Digital Editor

My grandma’s Claddagh ring, passed down to me in roughly 2007

I don’t recall when exactly my grandma’s Claddagh ring was passed down to me, but I know that since that day (many years ago now), I haven’t taken it off. My heritage is Irish, and the Claddagh ring is as quintessentially Irish as they come – the national symbol of love, connection and unity. Aside from the gold, dainty appearance of the ring, with its braided band and heart encased by two hands, which I’ve always found particularly beguiling, the meaning it’s imbued with is what really drew me in.

It was passed down by my grandma, and I recall receiving the ring with a ‘how to’ type guide on how to wear the ring correctly. While you can choose to wear it however you want, the traditional guidelines stipulate that you wear the point of the heart facing away from you if you are single and your heart is open, and you wear it with the heart’s point toward your body if you are in a committed relationship. Being a hopeless romantic, I can’t help but be drawn into the mythology behind the Claddagh ring, and I’ve always flipped the ring around depending on how things are going in my love life. The ring is part of my daily uniform and has been for well over 15 years. I imagine it will be on my finger for the rest of my life, and maybe one day I’ll pass it down to someone, just like my grandma did.

Kat Chrisoulis, Fashion Journal intern

My Nobody Denim shorts from 2012


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It was circa 2012 and I’d managed to convince Mum to engage in some good-old retail therapy (because life at age 11 is so taxing). There was nothing particularly eye-catching about the denim shorts – they were a light wash with subtle distressing and cuffed hems. You can imagine the minor heart attack my mum suffered when I brought a nearly $200 pair of shorts to the checkout as if it was a packet of gum that I’d picked up last-minute. I’m not quite sure what came over her that day but miraculously, she caved. It was impulsive and extravagant, but I wore them religiously for a couple of years, slotting them somewhere in the rotation with my Supre galaxy leggings and Target jeggings.

Fast forward six or seven years, they managed to resurface during a Marie-Kondo-style cleanout. With a newfound appreciation for the brand’s eco-conscious ethos, I decided to try and up-cycle them. I use the term up-cycle very loosely. I unpicked the stitching that held together the cuffs to expose a raw hem that hit me mid-thigh, redeeming themselves as my go-to summer short. Maybe I’m psychoanalysing but I think it’s taught me that investing in quality essentials is the key to building a timeless wardrobe. I mean, I can’t say I decided to give my $20 galaxy leggings another shot at life.

For advice on how to make your clothing last, head here.

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