In the Wash


The status of my wardrobe is hanging by a millennial pink thread.

Since coming to Emerson, I’ve had too many laundry mishaps to count. They’re undoubtedly linked to the fact that I’d done my laundry less than ten times before I left home for college. That’s not even mentioning my general disdain toward the minor inconveniences that go hand in hand with getting laundry done. My upper body strength is nonexistent. I drag more than lift my overflowing bin of dirty clothes. Going down fourteen floors in a dorm elevator, undoubtedly encountering the one person I didn’t want seeing me in my pajamas (likely an ensemble comprised of a shirt declaring my love for Mindy Kaling or allegiance to House Stark in Game of Thrones, paired with airy shorts from my basketball days)? No thank you.

By the time I get into a laundry room, if ever I do, I put about as much effort into the actual cleaning of my clothes as I do in getting to the room itself, so the bare minimum. And sometimes, similar mediocrity gets us where we want to go: from A’s on high school essays to the office of President of the United States. But laundry is, in my experience, notoriously unforgiving of such disregard for the sanctity of its practice.

The first time I messed up my laundry, I shrunk a loose gray sweater into a tight crop top. I was frustrated at first. So, you’re telling me I can’t just throw all of my clothes, regardless of color and material, into one giant load of laundry and be done with it?! But as a money-saver at heart and someone looking to better myself in terms of sustainability, I decided on keeping each of the garments I’d goofed on in every given load.

I re-styled my gray sweater turned crop with shorter sleeves and a deeper neck to make it work for the spring and summer seasons, which the sweater as I’d originally bought it was not at all meant for. Our laundry troubles can lead to a fresher wardrobe, without the need to buy new clothes. Hence my enthusiastic embrace of millennial pink at its peak, and even now. The ol’ red sock in a white wash load isn’t merely a media staple; like Rachel from Friends, I look like a marshmallow peep, thanks to my naïveté in front of the washer and drier. But in 2016, and even now in 2017, a chic marshmallow peep is an aesthetic aspiration.

And it’s not just in the wash that I’ve found my wardrobe taking an unexpected turn. Sometime in the past year, I found the whites of my otherwise black Converse to be covered by eye-catching ink spill. The physics behind my ability to spill a wide range of products remains unknown. My ability to take errors in outerwear and make them into assets shall hopefully get its due recognition. An insightly ink stain was repurposed as an element of fashion, taking the splotches and covering them with artistic designs. To be clear, these designs are very much your average geometric patterns. But as an Emersonian who hasn’t seen the insides of a math classroom since high school, I take pride in them.

We all have our shrunken, accidental millennial pink, and ink-stained moments. These are not times to take to the trash can with a sigh. Fashion, high and low, is an environmental-heavy industry. It takes a lot from our planet, oftentimes without giving much in return. It is the little opportunities for sustainability and conservation that lead to change over time. Let’s look at pieces that get distorted by the trials of daily life with the attitude of someone who simply can’t afford to replace them. We can repurpose, instead, not only revamping our college student-budgeted wardrobes but giving our environment a moment to breathe.

On an individual level, I hope this is an unrelatable story. As much as I enjoy the arts and crafts element of adjusting my wardrobe to laundry and other mistakes, it’s not something I aim to do, by any means. But if anyone’s looking to shrink their sweaters, add a furled sleeve or aesthetic rip to their fall wardrobe, I’d be happy to throw your pieces in with mine. Let’s save water while wrecking wardrobes, but make it fashion.

Illustration by: Taylor Roberts