Sustainability / January 2021

Closet Cleanout: New Year Edition

Liana Satenstein is a Senior Fashion Writer at Vogue.com, and an avid buyer of vintage. A daughter of an antique dealer who grew up trawling yardsales, she has always been in the world of sorting all-things precious, something which eventually led her to cleanse her fellow editors’ closets of unworn but very stellar fashion finds. She runs Schmatta Shrink, a small business dedicated to paring-back fabulous wardrobes, and is the host of #NeverWorns, an Instagram Live series in which she interviews fashion folk about clothes they haven’t just given enough love to. Below, she discovers (and shares) even more benefits to a clean closet.

Though I typically cleanse other people’s closets, I do cleanse my own closet every few months. I don’t mean clean or clear, I mean specifically, the word cleanse. Think of a wardrobe like a soul. Clothing reflects one’s emotions, so why not apply the same idea of mindfulness that we do to wellness and self-care to our wardrobe? After all, it’s a beautiful extension of ourselves. When cleansing a wardrobe, it means taking a thoughtful survey of what we own and how we are consuming. Exactly how are we buying clothes, and better yet, why did we make that purchase at that moment? Whenever I look through a closet — my own, or for other people — I ask certain questions, such as was I stressed out when I bought that shirt? Why does this jacket still have a tag on it, even though I bought it six months ago? And why exactly haven’t I worn it yet?

One part of my closet that I am editing regularly is my collection of denim. Jeans are a fascinating item because they are one of the pieces that we accumulate the most. There are several reasons for this. Think of how many variations of denim styles exist! Skinny jeans. Flares. Wide-leg. Boyfriend. Bootcut. The list goes on. If you’re a Levi’s® head a.k.a. collector, you’ll know that there are even different subdivisions of vintage denim styles, like the orange tab labels (1969-1999!), to silver (artfully baggy!), and then red (classic!). Plus, there are qualities of denim that make the denim your denim. Maybe that rip below the butt is perfect. Or that patched up part of the knee looks great. Each personal worn-in detail can make it difficult to say goodbye to a pair, even if we don’t wear them anymore for one reason or another.

But trimming down a denim collection is do-able. I tackle my own ever-growing collection with three easy steps: Repeats, Questions, and Try On. For repeats, I take everything out and section it by color. It’s the best way to sort and see if there are, well, repeats. In my own case, I might have three pairs of skinny grey jeans or more. Maybe there are two pairs of faded black flares. When I do sort, I do a compare and contrast. Maybe I wear one pair more than the other, or that I haven’t worn a certain pair in over a year. Once I have done a “yes” and “no” sort session, I try on each pair that remains. Maybe a pair is too tight, or too loose. Maybe I love how a certain style sits on me rather than another. I give myself a one-minute once-over in the mirror to see if I like a pair or not. Time is everything: I don’t give myself more than 60 seconds to mull it over, and I go with my immediate gut feeling. Though, if I’m having a truly difficult time parting with a pair, I put them in an expiration section. Later that week, I will wear it out and style it a few different ways. Then, I take a mental note of how I feel in them, and from there, I can make a sound decision.

Now here is the big question: So what to do with all of those pairs that you are parting with? I’m talking about really killer vintage and secondhand pairs that might just not fit anymore but you’re still sad to see go. They should go somewhere that sees the value in good denim. In this case, you can always bring them back to the source. There is the Levi’s® SecondHand program that is specifically for buying and selling your vintage and secondhand Levi’s®, both jeans and Trucker Jackets. You can trade in a vintage — or simply a used! — pair back to Levi’s® and they will give you a gift card to use at Levi’s® in return. Then, you can explore a trove of yesteryear denim on their website. If those Vintage Levi’s® 550s are too relaxed for your liking, sell them and opt for a pair of snug Vintage 501®s — button-fly and all!


The concept of knowing that your beloved denim is going somewhere that appreciates it — including those artful rips and tears — makes the idea of parting with pieces easier. The beauty about buying and selling vintage is that while there is a direct benefit to you — giving and receiving — it also helps the environment. Worn clothes receive a second life, which means less is being produced and therefore, less waste. Think: Minimized water usage and CO2 emissions. And besides, when it comes down to it, we all know that denim gets better with age, so why not keep adding those year on to make it look the best it can be?

Photo Credit: Mayan Toledano

Trade-In Summary

You can trade in Levi’s® men’s and women’s denim bottoms and jackets in good condition. For items that are unwearable, you’ll still receive a $5 gift card, and we’ll donate the clothes. Unwearable examples include large rips and holes, stains, missing buttons for closure, or nonfunctioning zippers.

Trade-in credits range from $5 to $35 based on your item’s age, condition and original retail price. If you’re not sure about these details, don’t worry. Just book an appointment and bring your pieces in to any Levi’s® Retail Store in the U.S. We’ll take it from there.

Use your gift card to shop online at www.levi.com or shop in person at any Levi’s® Retail Store or Levi’s® Outlet Store in the U.S.




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