A Guide to Wearing Dirty Clothes

Have you ever sprayed perfume on a piece of clothing to mask a faint dirty scent?

Worn a blazer with makeup stains you should have just washed instead?

Hand-selected your #ootd from the dirty laundry hamper?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you have already succumbed to the practice of wearing dirty clothes.

Whether you believe pieces should be worn once, twice or five times before washing for the sake of less laundry, you should be careful not to take dirty clothes too far. If you’re having trouble figuring out whether your hamper-worthy clothes will hurt your image or if they are acceptable to wear in public, use the following guide to decide the fate of your dirty clothes.

By Itohan Osagie

Illustrations by Sonia Margolin


Dirty jeans for class

This is by far the least harmful opportunity to wear dirty clothes. Believe it or not, dirty jeans are some of the most comfortable jeans you’ll ever put on your body. The longer you go without washing them, the softer the denim fabric will feel against your skin, making it easy to skip wearing leggings to class. For jeans in particular, you can probably avoid the laundry hamper for a few weeks, but you should toss them into the washer immediately if you spill something on them.

Your cozy travel outfit  

There is no point in sacrificing clean clothes for a laid-back atmosphere like a bus ride or an airline flight. Save yourself the extra laundry and wear that band tee with a little funk (we’re talking smell, not groove.) You’ll probably never have to see any of the other passengers again, so there’s no harm if your shirt came out of your dirty hamper and was fluffed before that 6 a.m. flight.

Week Old Bras

Dirty panties are always unacceptable to wear, but brassiers are another story. Who wants to be stuck doing laundry because they only have one clean bra left in the middle of the week? Not you. As long as you don’t sweat too much in your bra, it can be worn quite a few times before tossing it in with your other delicates. As for sweaty sports bras, we’ll let you use your best judgement.


Your Morning After Party Clothes

Considering that you have no other alternatives that are socially acceptable (i.e. nudity,) you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place in terms of clean clothes after spending a drunk night away from home. If you just so happen to stay out all night, your party clothes are totally fine for the walk back to your apartment. Chances are it will happen multiple times over your college career. But if last night’s outfit happens to be spilled upon, or missing pieces, maybe snag a t-shirt before heading home. Make sure to throw your party clothes in the dirty laundry hamper as soon as you get back home so you’re not tempted to wear them out again in the same weekend. No one wants to be an outfit repeater.

Week Old Pajamas to Breakfast

We’ve all passed judgement on students in the dining hall that obviously just rolled out of bed. Wearing pajamas to breakfast is an action most students have been guilty of committing their freshman year, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of. That being said, you should strive to make it to breakfast with at least some normal pants on. When you continuously re-wear sleep clothes, it’s natural for a scent of fairly unpleasant body odor to accumulate. In this instance, you’re better off changing out of your pajamas before leaving the bedroom.  


Dirty blazer for a last-minute career fair

Unpredictability plays a huge role in the life of a college student, but dirty professional clothes should be reconsidered when dressing to meet potential employers. Whether it’s the obvious smell of “hard work” that could be covered by perfume or a stain that’s only visible if someone invades your personal space, it’s safest to leave your dirty clothes at home Show the companies you respect them by dressing to impress.

Sweaty Gym Clothes

Wearing dirty gym clothes is nonnegotiable — it should not be done. Avoid the temptation of saving yourself from the dirty laundry pile that is bound to accumulate, because re-wearing your gym clothes is not even tactfully innovative. It’s just plain gross.

That cute sweater with an ugly stain

No matter how tiny the blotch of toothpaste on your favorite oversized sweater, a stain is a stain. Yes, we know it’s hard to relinquish that comfy piece of clothing long enough for it to be washed, but in doing so you could potentially save both you and your sweater from the permanence of an untreated stain and the constant reminder of an unfortunate dirty clothes day.

Re-wearing clothes is a resourceful, and sometimes necessary tactic when it comes to saving time and energy on laundry. There does come a point  usually when you realize that you’ve been getting dressed from clothes out of your laundry hamper for the past several days  that you should give in, gather your pile of laundry and wash your damn clothes.