Never Let Girls Borrow Your Clothes

That shirt you’re wearing — do you like it? It fits nicely, you got it at a good price, and it’s just the right kind of fit to go from day to night with ease. It’s a pretty good shirt, I have to admit. You should take it on adventures, wear it to all kinds of events, and lovingly place it on a wooden hanger that keeps the shoulders crease-free. Keep that shirt by your side and, if you want to continue living out your storybook clothing item-human love affair, don’t ever, ever lend it out to a girl.

Let’s be honest with ourselves here for a minute, ladies: We are black holes of clothing. We can own seventy pairs of shoes and only be able to find the left one for each, get a new dress that on its big debut night takes a glass full of vodka cranberry down the front, and cause a rip in the time-space continuum into which all of our earring backs inevitably fall. We’re just not super good with these things — and that’s okay! We have our prized items we can take care of if need be, and after all, it’s only clothes. But when we find ourselves short a cardigan for a night out or see a friend with a skirt just too adorable to not politely steal, we are all too quick to ask that dangerous, quicksand-filled question, “Hey, can I borrow that?”

Can you borrow that? Define “can” and “borrow.” I mean, theoretically, your friend is going to look like a huge ass if she just tells you, “No, I love this item and would like to see it some time in the near future.” That’s just not something friends do. And it’s doubtful that “borrow” is an appropriate word, given how often the clothing items we pilfer end up just worming their cottony way into our wardrobe rotation. It’s a sad, profound moment when out with a girlfriend, looking across the table and thinking to yourself, “Jesus Christ, is that my sweater?” You thought you’d lost it to the cruel winds of the lint trap or something, but no, your friend just borrowed it and never returned it.

Or if they do return it, you can guarantee that it will be months later than you would have preferred, and quite likely stained/shrunk/stretched/altered in some way that wearing it is no longer really an option. And to be fair, you can’t really expect to loan out your favorite sequined mini-dress for a birthday party at a club that plays 60 percent Flo Rida to not come back with a few battle scars, but it doesn’t soften the blow when it happens to you. The clothes we loan out to our girlfriends must look at us tearfully while being handed off, knowing that its likely the last you will ever see of each other. That blouse knows its fate, and it knows you know.

Who among us hasn’t been the friend on the receiving end of the borrow, though? I’d be hard-pressed to find a single girl in our ranks who hasn’t, at one point, absconded with a tank top under the guise of a loan, knowing full-well that this tasty morsel was all but her new adopted child. In many ways, we see our clothes as some kind of communal store room, just waiting to be browsed through and taken at our leisure. I would call us greedy, but we just have a love for a cute pair of cork wedges when we see them, and that’s not a crime, is it?

I was serious, by the way, that shirt is adorable — could I use it tonight? TC mark


image – Andrew Morell

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.


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  • Lo


  • Em

    You don’t return clothes? What kind of awful person are you? I’m a girly girl, and so are most of my friends. But we have always, always returned each other’s clothes. Sometimes it takes a while if we don’t see each other, but we always return it. Like, dude, seriously?

    • brunettecoleman

      Yeah, I always return clothes in perfect conditon. The only girls I know that this is true off Im not friends with and would never lend clothes to. I don’t bulk buy clothes from H&M or whatever, I save up and buy nice clothes that I know suit me and work for my wardrobe, so if I lend anything out to a friend its a friend I trust, because otherwise they are responsible for a serious dent in my wallet.

  • Jaimie

    i NEVER let my friends borrow my clothes. they always come back slightly askew and just don’t feel like mine anymore. sorry if that makes me a jerk, no one ever said we had to be friends.

  • Ness

    i hear you sista, happens to me all the time, lend out a cute dress to a girlfriend, months later she’s wearing it and you feel slightly awkward when asking if its yours

  • Melanie

    In college a girlfriend of mine was notorious for borrowing things and never returning them, but my other girlfriend and I knew that she never locked her dorm room door so one night we went in and rummaged through all of her things until we found our items. Fast forward 5 years and by some miracle we now all live in the same city again for the first time since college and once again it’s ‘can I borrow that? wear that? steal that awesome dress?’ and you know that now we’re all 27 and grown up but there’s still the grimace of ‘sigh, i’ll never see that again’ – it’s much harder to break into a house then a dorm room

    • Olive

      Congrats! I think you just broke the record for a run on sentence.

      • damn

        Congrats! I think you just broke the record for most obnoxious comment olive.

  • Kat

    I frequently go through my roommate’s closet when she’s at work and reclaim all my missing clothes. I lived with her for a year awhile back, then recently moved in with her again and it was like Christmas finding all the things I forgot I had ever owned. Unfortunately, she doesn’t actually *ask* before she borrows things, so I’m usually going in blind. I have yet to not find something of mine, though. The fact that she doesn’t wear the same size as me doesn’t seem to factor in at all…

  • clarayuan

    Reblogged this on odyssey and commented:
    Nicely written :) Though it doesn’t really apply to me

  • LiteBrite

    A college friend borrowed a simple black top and never returned it. When I asked her about it, she said she borrowed it from someone else. I just dont see how you dont return clothes. You didn’t pay for them, give them back!! If I borrow something from a friend, I try to give it back to them within a week of borrowing it. I think its only right.

  • JO

    My “best friend” and roommate with a particularly nasty way of borrowing clothes – whenever I got something nice and new, she would make comments about how the item was “interesting”, or how she “wasn’t sure she could wear something like that.” She’d basically make me feel like I had made the fashion faux pas of the year, until I stopped wearing whatever it was. Then, she would ask to borrow it, not to be returned for several months.

    The last time she did this, she borrowed my new favourite pants, which I was still in love with and ripped a huge hole in the knee. When I got mad and asked her to replace them, she made a comment about how I wore jeans with holes in them, so what was the problem and they didn’t look that good on me anyway.

    After that, I realized that she treated me the same way she treated my poor clothes. Nothing like lending out your stuff to help you figure out who your friends are.

  • Nat

    I live with 5 other girls and we’re generally quite good with borrowing, apart from one who practically lives out of my wardrobe (we’re the same shoe size as well). I love her to bits but it annoys me to no end when I want to wear something but can’t because she hasn’t washed it yet/she’s wearing it. Sometimes she borrows an item so often that people assume it’s hers and when I wear it out people are like, “Hey, isn’t that __’s?” No. It’s mine, she just wears it more than I do.

    Call me selfish but I didn’t spend a small fortune on my clothes and shoes so someone else could wear them out. (I can’t be the only one who feels this way??)

    Think I should start charging a loan fee.

  • Jeff

    How about when you lend a hoodie to a girl you are sleeping with? Never going to see that again.

  • derp

    I’ve had this happen to me and it’s the worst. I lost both my favorite shirt and favorite pair of jeans this way (though to be fair I left the jeans at a friend’s on accident and they were never to be seen again). The worst is when you leave clothes somewhere and see a friend wear it months later. It makes me hesitant to ask because they may have also bought it from somewhere or time has addled my memory and they only look similar.

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