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Understanding Clothing Attachment Theory

If you are hoping to make strides towards greater sustainability within your closet in the new year, it’s worth pondering the question: “Why do you keep garments?” Essentially, what makes us attached to certain clothing over others?

We have looked through different studies that have gathered insightful theories as to why we are attached to certain articles of clothing over others.


A Chinese study on Slow Fashion by An Liu, Emily Baines and Lisbeth Ku reveals that many consumers express the need for the garment to have a classic and timeless design in order for it to hold a long-term spot in the closet.


The three major requirements for attachment are: 1. Ease of matching with other clothes, 2. Ease of maintenance, 3. High versatility.


By following these three qualifications when shopping, you’re more likely to build a wardrobe that is versatile and suits your lifestyle. It will also help solve the problem of having “nothing to wear,” which plagues nearly all women who predominantly shop at fast fashion stores.

In fact, it is the growth of the fast fashion industry that has diminished our ability to develop our personal style and invest in garments that serve us long term. In response to the dominance of cheap and trendy clothing production, many women have turned to second hand shopping to acquire high-quality garments. Many have discovered that exposure to well constructed garments have greatly diminished the desire for fast fashion and allowed for growth in personal taste. Developing one’s eye to identify quality and beauty is crucial for investing in garments that not only stand the test of time, but also take root in our hearts in the form of attachment.

In her article, Kirsi Niinimäki discusses sustainability of clothing via longevity and attachment:


Considering emotional aspects in the attachment process will help designers to focus on sustainable and durable design. High-quality and pleasurable use experiences are a clear gateway to long-term use of clothing. Design that includes a catchment for memories or invites their emergence creates possibilities to extend the owning time of garments.”


It’s not surprising to hear that women are more likely to hold onto a garment that holds positive memories. In her article, Kate Fletcher explains that women rarely buy new garments because it protects our bodies better or offers better functionality. Rather, we purchase an item because it has caught our eye and expresses some part of our story.


We develop a certain attachment to our clothing based on the memories we have lived through that garment. Fletcher goes on to state that “while garments can be seen as having much in common with other domestic objects, items worn on the body have an intimate quality that confers upon them a personal, sometimes private, status different to other household products.”

We are more likely to cherish items that remind us of a special event, person, or time in our lives. In general, women are more likely to value the human element imbued within objects. This is what makes our expression of self through clothing that much more significant!


These studies can help us see our wardrobe as an expression of our story. The more we build and cultivate our closet with intentionality, the more we tend to find ourselves living out our calling confidently with an expression that aligns with our core.


At Litany, we hope our garments become family heirlooms as we craft them in such a way to last. Each piece invites you to incorporate quality and beauty into your physical expression of self.



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