The golden oldies we refuse to throw away

The golden oldies we refuse to throw away

In the age of disposable fashion, Brigit Grant struggles to let go of clothes – and isn’t alone

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Julie Burchill in the T she can't throw away
Julie Burchill in the T she can't throw away
My father’s vest

The world’s oldest known piece of clothing is a 5,000-year-old linen shirt. Excavated at Tarkhan, an ancient Egyptian cemetery dating back to 3,000 B.C, the shirt is still in pretty good nick. There’s no way of knowing whether it was a recent purchase for its Egyptian owner or a thing he had held on to it for years despite his wife’s protests –“Masudi, chuck out that schmatter!”

Holding on to old clothes is not for everyone but it suits me. Choosing to ignore declutterer maven Marie Kondo (maven means no-it-all in Yiddish, by the way) I refuse to throwout  garments I haven’t worn for several years because a) they may pass muster teamed with new separates or b) can be worn for weeding. But there is another reason. Clothes conjure up memories in special places with special people. I still have a vest my late father wore on holiday more than 30 years ago. Also a scarf my Nana wrapped around my head when I had an earache and then there’s the beach skirt I borrowed in 1983 (when I was thinner) from a Swede in Greece and I still wear it. These clothes are the nostalgic equivalent of comfort blankets and as my nana always said “old is gold”. Even comedy writer Larry David hangs on to stuff such as the Seinfeld  jacket in his closet. He may not wear it out, but he likes to know it’s there.


Suzanne Doffman. Lives in Finchley and volunteers for Kisharon at the Equal shop.

“I went all over London looking for a suitable synagogue dress for my son Adam’s barmitzvah. Eventually I ended up buying it at Genevieve which is literally round the corner from my house. The barmitzvah was at Woodside Park Synagogue. I don’t keep any of my old clothes but loved the dress and kept it
in a cupboard (not
in my bedroom).
I was tidying up and sorting out the spare rooms after my boys left home and found it. Adam is now 26 and living and working in Beijing.  After finding the dress I wore it to a charity dinner a few months ago and then remarkably I chose to wear it to a barmitzvah party just a few weeks ago. I’m glad I kept it.”


Debbie Colton,Netball coach, lives in Mill Hill and has resided in India, Greece and Hong Kong

“I was never cool or stylish but my dad was a FrenchConnection franchisee for many years and my dark denim jacket was one of the favourite items I was gifted (well helped myself too) over 20 years ago. At the time it felt pretty cool worn on top of my rolled up FCUK sweatshirt. What I never envisaged, is that while I was never going to be cool myself, my ‘cool’ jacket was going to continue to cover a multitude of naff outfits and take me through marriage, three kids and four countries.Pretty FCUKing cool if you ask me!”

Neil Gold Sales executive, lives in Arkley. 

I’ve always collected T-shirts to remind me of places and events. The oldest tee is 31-years-old from a place called South Padre Island. Where? Exactly. It’s a large sand dune just off the coast of Texas where the oil baron ‘Ewings’ of Dallas fame would have vacationed if they were real. At least that’s what I was told by some Texans and off I went to South Padre with my mate Howard. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to much, and the only oil was black stuff and stuck to your feet on the beach. There was also an oil rig visible from the shore. We relocated to Acapulco, but not before I got the tee, which did actually fit me back then. My other all time clothing treasures include – a T-shirt featuring the entire Spurs squad in a recreation of the Beatles’ classic Sgt Pepper album cover. Gary Mabbutt and Darren Anderton are on there so you do the maths [1997].”                                                

Julie Burchill, Journalist, author, well-known Zionist who lives in Brighton.

“I’m not what you’d call clingy; not only do I find it pleasant to divest myself of things I’ve outgrown – metaphorically and literally – but I take a special pleasure in giving away things I’m fond of. For the past three years I’ve worked in my local MIND shop and this has given an extra ease to my long-term stream-lining project. But there’s a piece of clothing I never wear which I will never get rid of. It’s a cheap stripy top size 18 M&S top – but I wore it on my only Zionist Federation trip to Israel in 2013. It went everywhere – to the underground Haganah command centres, to hospitals, to a training school for seeing-eye puppies, to the Knesset and to the beautiful, brave Arab village of Abu Ghosh where we were shown astonishing hospitality. So this humble garment will always remind me of a lovely time in the country I love best in all the world.

                                                                                                                      Melanie Marks- Newman is an estate manager, lives in LA                    and hails from Hendon.

“I have a pair of Andy Pandy looking trousers that I bought during a lunch break at Finchley Market in 1986. I moved them out here to LA, kept them, never wore them, had two kids and always kept them. I don’t know why really – maybe to see if I could still fit in them. They still fit! And due to their Andy Pandy qualities, I wore them this year to July 4th festivities!



Amanda Noar is a producer, director and TV and film actor who lives in Finchley.

“This is an outfit I bought for my son’s Bar Mitzvah, 17 years ago from a boutique in South Molton Street!

I rediscovered it recently when I was looking for an outfit to attend an award ceremony at Pinewood Studio, at which I was nominated (& won) the award for best creativity as a director!

It was a truly thrilling night and I was so pleased to be able to turn around to my husband to say, “see!!! If you keep things long enough, they DO come back in fashion!”


Richard Ferrer, Editor Jewish News

 “What to pick? My QPR FA Cup final tracksuit, sun cream-stained cricket hoodie or Level 42 tour t-shirt (now only held together by stains)?

It’s a tough call but, for pure sentimentality, the item of clothing I put on a pedestal is this Long Beach Island Champion sweater – conjuring rose-tinted memories of the Wonder Years summer of 1992 spent as a councillor on an American summer camp.

The week before the kids arrive is a blur of training and snogging. I only had eyes for Karen, Simone, Audrey, Natalie, Rachel, Lucy and Wendy (don’t recall surnames, but Wendy let me drive her orange 1970s Audi Quattro to the laundromat). She asked to wear my oh-so bohemian Mexican hooded poncho and gave me her perfumed LFI sweater in return. It seemed like a good deal. I certainly smelt better with it on.

I’ve never been to Long Beach Island. I imagine it to be rather long, sandy and somewhat surrounded by water. But for me it will forever be synonymous with campfire songs, learning to juggle and play guitar, tie-dye t-shirts, friendship bracelets, Shabbat services by the lake and employing my English accent to devastating Hugh Grant-effect on Karen, Simone…et al and casualwear queen Wendy.

Oh, Wendy. I’ll always have your Champion sweater, you’ll always have my Mexican poncho (which, I’ll have you know, remained the height of fashion until early 1993)… and we’ll always have the boat shed.”







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