Motley contributor Lauren McCourt runs you through the dos and don’ts of leftover situationship clothing


When May hits you gather round the fire pit to write the ‘Hot Girl Summer’ rules list. “Facetime someone before you shower, 5 points”, “go out on a date, 10 points” and there, making its way to the very top, “hookup with five people in a club, 20 points” scratched carelessly in a slightly faded red pen. At first it’s daunting, but competitive as you are, five people is only four more than last time and you’re slowly seeing yourself become the most extraverted version of you. 


Then July rolls around and Voodoo opens the gates to its fiery pit and the burning love quest commences in the heat of fading moments. Like a moth to a flame, you cling to the guy with curly hair and the girl with the dancing gaze as the hours clock into a single wink. ‘Honey’ blasts its crying melody through your dewy skin, and the lyric ‘we haven’t talked in months, fun just isn’t fun’ forces you to take the hand of the guy who reminds you of the mouse from Cinderella. There you are, the princess of‘ Oliver Plunkett Street being swept off your feet to a room without blinds, a bin or a sufficient lock. Reality hits and his “Please stay the night” becomes ghastly as you rummage through the empty Lynx Africa bottles to find your shoes, only to stumble across an array of used vapes and lone Adidas socks. Before you unleash yourself to the lurking roommates out front, he hands you something rather unfamiliar with a fierce Dior Sauvage aftershave stench. “Take this” he says;  This being a plain black hoodie with a toothpaste stain trickling down the front. “Thanks, I’ll give it back next time I see you”. But you don’t. You never see him again. 


As the fragility of summer closes its door on you, you sit alone in the silence of failed situationships and a torn sheet of inky rules dripping into the accommodation hollows. All you are left with is the pounding regrets of ‘what if I did say yes to staying the night’ and the pool of oversized hoodies, hats and t-shirts that still smell like them. The unnamed clothing pieces gather dust as you refuse to wear them as the nights darken and the cold air makes your humanising breathe all the more alive. 


Regardless of the season, these clothing pieces can be worn and should be worn. A reminder of love and comfort, there’s something about wearing a hoodie that’s not yours that just hits the spot. Tarnished and stained, the future of fashion lies within the leftovers from the people you still insist you never obsessed over.  I know that turning to WikiHow may only further restrict yourself on this journey into upcycling, so I have created your very own fool-proof guide to upcycling your failed situationship hoodies (and everything in between). 


Step 1: Come to terms with the fact it’s yours for the keeping. It’s time to stop passively waiting for them to ‘snap’ you back so you can initiate your plan of a) washing the hoodie when you go home on Friday, followed by b) drowning it in your favourite, most expensive Victoria Secret perfume and c) romanticising the moment of handing it back with the line ‘sorry I know it smells so bad’, hoping they’ll fall asleep with it before keeping it in a shrine dedicated to you. Instead, romanticise the keeping of it where you possess all the power over its destiny. After all, it does look better on you. But it’s hard, and self compassion goes a long way. It’s a difficult transition to accept your lover is no longer with you and you must hold onto the emotional encasement of their scent. It may feel like a drug in a dresser, but it is also a crucial step in moving forward. 


Step 2: Accept that it’s kind of ugly. When you check the tag there’s one of three options waiting for you; A faded ‘H&M’ label, a branded ‘ASOS’ print, or a stamped ‘Boohoo Man’ on the collar when they tried to replicate the ‘Love Island’ look (emphasis on tried). You may be tired of the basic fashion sense of virtually all of your hookups, but these pieces too are tired of being scrunched up in the drawer unknowingly titled ‘ALL THE THINGS TOO UGLY TO WEAR IN PUBLIC’. Truth is, that’s just another excuse in desperation to fit in. Upcycling comes in many forms; repurposed as pyjamas, an effortless ‘just popping down to Centra for a chicken roll’ look, or even a ‘post-tanning routine cover up that’s already filthy enough to further stain’, these statements are just as valid in the world of fashion. Perhaps not suitable for a dreaded college presentation, or a prinks gathering, these pieces are just as capable of paving their way into your keep pile. So don’t shame them. 


Step 3: Wash it. Just like all the controversy around bra washing, it remains unknown when the last time this piece of clothing was washed. As you too require a steamy shower after a rough night in the city, it may also need a little bit of TLC. We’re all deserving of love. Once your very understandable few nights of obsessively sniffing the collar are over and their scent dissolves into the void of nothingness, you know the time has come. Washing the clothes is not erasing the comfort and joy attached to it, it is simply a means of giving the hoodie or T-shirt new life. With a quick wash on eco-mode, that patchy graphic Tee and woodfire scented cap can become staple pieces for your quickly approaching next adventure. Combined with a neat pair of tracksuit pants or trousers, you’ve got yourself a new and improved Airport Fit that’s both cosy and fashionable (with the added bonus of smelling fresh).


Step 4: Embrace the unique touches you’ve given it. Once the piece has made it out of the washing machine and into your wardrobe, it has become a blank canvas for you to paint (maybe in the literal sense if you’re talented enough). The custody battle has been won and you have proven your deserved rights over this hoodie. Leave space for your fashionable mind to give it new meaning and new purposes, from a baggy fit to a neatly tucked grunge look. With the brave addition of layers, jewellery and accessories, you should be proud of the fashion statement you’ve created. Whatever the shape, colour or style, there’s plenty of upgrading ready for exploration. And lastly, if it’s a white t-shirt, make sure to write ‘This is not my ex’s shirt’ on the back for a ‘White Lies’ themed house party. 


Just like all of humanity, the hoodie can never truly forget where it came from. Truth is, we must always remember our roots to stay true to ourselves. However, in a world of ever growing fast fashion and the looming fear of ‘what if someone else wears the same thing as me’, it’s time to open our eyes, minds and drawers to the hidden gems we have buried within our own shelves. It’s 2023; the year of self growth and unique fashion sense. Whether you are post breakup, on the brink of calling a ‘friends with benefits’ quits, or just a notorious situationship hoodie collector, it’s your time to shine. Learn to be your own leader and embrace these cosy critters you possess. And if you see them on campus or in the queue for Hidden Attic as you proudly wear your upcycled piece,  I’d suggest not approaching them. They’ll only want it back. 


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