The Hole Rule

When you are trying to live a simple life, trying to step away from the consumeristic traps set by our culture, there are, I suspect, a variety of practices and "rules" that one might adopt. Pondering this, I realized that I'd been living with an implicit, unwritten rule for many years now.

The rule has to do with when to replace clothing.

And the rule is this: Wear it until you get a hole in it.

It's the hole rule.

That's how I wear and buy clothing. I wear things until they get a hole in them and then I replace them. This goes for shoes, socks, jeans, pants, shorts, shirts, and most scandalously for my wife, undergarments.

(I know ya'll don't come here to learn about my underwear. But still, the hole rule is very much in effect for them. Drives Jana crazy. Particularly when we go from the singular hole to the plural holes.)

Sharing this isn't to pat myself on the back. In a world where people don't have enough to eat this all seems pretty trivial. I mainly just wanted to tell you about my underwear.

But seriously, I do think wearing things until they--literally--wear out is a good practice. In fact, I'm wondering about pushing this a bit further and recovering that old practice of mending. That's right, Richard, get out the needle and thread. I'm going to start trying to sew some of these holes up and keep the clothing a bit longer.

Though I think, upon reflection, I'll not do this for the underwear.

I can hear Jana breathing a sigh of relief...

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15 thoughts on “The Hole Rule”

  1. I am the same way with my husband's underwear.  Dude, if there are holes in them, they've got to go.  He hates to throw things away...  I have to just do it and not ask or tell him.

    But I am guilty, too, when a favorite shirt or nightgown gets "holey" -- I hang onto said article until it is practically obscene to wear it in public any longer.  One cotton batik nightgown from India was almost in shreds before I could part with it.  My family still teases me about that...  But it was my *favorite* comfy nightgown.

    My paternal grandmother was skilled in the art of crocheting.  I remember her mending my grandpa's "holey" socks.  Amazing.

    You made me laugh today.  :-)  ~Peace~

  2. One of the most spiritually luminescent men I ever met (or so he seemed to me) was this old Jesuit priest who wore a faded and frayed white t-shirt and jeans that seemed to be comprised almost entirely of patches. He'd been a friend of Shel Silverstein, had lived in a cave as a hermit for three years, had worked on crabbing boats, had done, in fact, a wide variety of things. He was even more interesting than the dos-equis beer guy, but what impressed me the most was the jeans.

  3. I wouldn't have any if I didn't keep the ones with holes in them. I call them golf underwear or golf socks. 18 holes or a hole in one (for socks) I have about three pair of pants that the crotch is ripped out of and can't bring myself to get rid of them. They are perfectly good pants with the exception of having the seams coming unsewn. I will get to them eventually and yes my wife just shakes her head. After 25 years she has given up on my fashion.

  4. Although it is mightily tempting to comment on the state of my husband's underwear, I will refrain. I would, however, like to point out a wonderful book I purchased this Summer called Mend it Better...creative patching, darning, and stitching by Kristin M. Roach. It has practical repair instructions as well as incredibly creative ideas for covering stains and holes. And as my great love is not to wear things out but to buy them for $2 at Goodwill, this book is perfect for getting fun ideas for giving a garment new (and improved--in my opinion) life. I am excited to try it out. It makes me want to get a sewing machine for some of the fancier work. *only 30 shopping days until my birthday*  Hmmmm.....but does it defeat the purpose to spend money on a machine to save money on clothes? Or is it the principal of "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without that is the goal? Well, either way it sounds fun to me to funky, creative repairs to one of a kind thrift store finds. Sadly, however, the book did not have a section on men's underwear. Sigh...perhaps it will be in the much anticipated second edition.

  5. "I'm going to start trying to sew some of these holes up..."

    Hippie "patch clothes" can be works of art. It can get pretty wild, but I love the hippie subversiveness of making anti-consumerism cool.

    I just noticed that Jana is way in front of me on all this, so you'll have good advice/help. I once had the same. In high school (mid 70s) my grandmother was recently retired from her dress shop. She was a wonderful seamstress, and transformed my old jeans into psychedelic art. But I'm afraid that I've almost completely lost my cool vibe since Grandma passed...  

  6. Hi Jana,
    I've never had a new sewing machine. I bought one years ago at a yard sale for $15 that I learned on, and used it until I got a hand-me-down machine that had more features, then gave away my yard sale machine. The older Singers have metal gears instead of plastic, which is why they last better than their newer counterparts.

    When my youngest needed some kind of costume for his English or history class in 8th grade, we hit up the Salvation Army store on Butternut. Found a $4 lacy white skirt that I cut up and sewed ruffles to attach to the front of a shirt and around the cuffs on the sleeves. Worked for both a colonial costume and an Agatha Christie character.

  7. I kind of operate with this rule, too. I used to operate on a 'until it has a very big hole' or 'multiple holes', but my current job simply won't allow that (I have been told off before!). But with my non-work clothes, I still do do this... Although in my case, I suspect it has at least as much to do with my loathing clothes shopping...

  8. With two sons, the hand-me-down factor comes into play, holes or no holes. They don't really care if a favorite shirt or jeans has a hole in it or not. They're not picky. I've wanted to find some way to make towels last better, though. They become so raggy so quickly. The socks my husband goes through is another matter. Wearing work boots all day on concrete floors means his feet take a beating, as do his socks. Good socks are an investment in his well-being, since he's also subject to the elements (113 degrees in the hangar in summer, and freezing temps while washing a plane in winter).

  9. This is very nice. I follow something like the hole rule myself.

    I also feel it's beneath my dignity to shower more than once a day. When there are many children in this world dying because of a lack of clean water, I feel dirty showering twice, exercise or no exercise. I don't even sweat much.

  10. Reflections on holy underware: When we got married just after my graduation from a very frugal two years in a church of Cnrist evangelistic training school, Kathleen, my first wife, was appalled at the number of holes in my Haynes undergarments. She immediately ordered them retired and marched me off to the nearest Penny's where we refreshed the drawers collection. My holy underware was now gone forever. Hardly a replacement occurs without my thinking of this poignant, refreshing moment in our 44 years of wedded bliss. May I add that Kathleen is a wonderfully long suffering and forgiving wife. But she certainly has me on the right track with underware!

  11. Hi Jana,
    Another idea for worn out clothing is to recycle / repurpose.  In the old days, I think women cut up the fabric of worn-out garments and made quilts.  :-)  My daughter, who is a seamstress, has taken outgrown jeans (or jeans purchased cheaply from the thrift store) and cut them apart strategically to be re-stitched into skirts or purses.  I like your idea for creatively covering holes and stains.  Will have to check out the Mend It Better book.  The cotton t-shirts being sold today (that I'm fond of wearing) are so often of super thin consistency that they disintegrate fairly quickly after a few months' of wash and wear.  Clothing manufacturers are not making clothes to last very long, in general, it seems to me.  That's the American way for you -- buy/consume, throw away, repeat.  I'm with you -- let's rebel and do things differently.  :-)  ~Peace~

  12. Hah interesting. Reading this makes me realize that's more or less my modus operadum as well! 

    Living outside the USA (and on an island nation) means clothes are generally expensive or shopping only happens on trips overseas which means I've not grown up with a shopping spree mentality... and the idea of changing wardrobes with the style seasons is foreign. 

    And the thing is I'm perfectly comfortable being content with having enough clothes (I probably have too much.. things that don't fit etc) 

    but what does fit gets worn til it can't be worn any more. I've recently felt like perhaps it was a habit I needed to grow out of to become a more 'mature adult'... but thinking about it in this light reminds me that there is nothing wrong with contentment with ENOUGH.

  13. I also get grief from my wife for wearing tattered, old clothes that should have been trashed a while back. Alternatively, she has a practice of replacing clothes while they are still actually in good shape, and donating the clothes. This has made me think. Surely that is better than trashing clothes that are still in good condition or just buying because of cultural impetus to consume. But, could it be better than the credit I would have given it. Valuable to make good quality clothes available to people that could not afford them new? Thoughts?

  14. Mending takes too much time. Get yourself a roll of gaff tape (used in theater and live productions).  It is better than duct tape, and it comes in black and white.  I've managed to stretch the life of pants, socks, shoes, computer bags, car bumpers...

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