Borrowing Clothes: The Dos and Don’t-You-Evers

Borrowing Clothes: The Dos and Don’t-You-Evers

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There’s a big event coming up and you have absolutely nothing to wear. Funds are lacking and you’ve worn everything in your closet at least 50 times. This is a clothing crisis many face, but there is an answer: borrow from a friend.

To gain more insight, Cincy Chic asked several local fashionistas about their personal experiences lending clothes to friends. Their overwhelming response confirmed how passionate people are on the subject, and how often situations like this arise. These style mavens were quick to point out dos and don’ts of borrowing. Yes, there are rules. How do you ask to borrow an item, how long should you keep the outfit, should you get it cleaned? These special guidelines will keep your friendships in tact, and your friends closet open for business! Read on, my fashionable friends…


First, be courteous and respectful. The lender is being put out by missing an outfit that may be returned in a different state than borrowed. Please ask her, not tell her, you would like to borrow something. Keep in mind she is doing you a favor. You’re saving the stress associated with finding an outfit, as well as saving the funds needed to buy new duds. Secondly, flattery gets you everywhere. Daphne, a Hyde Park resident, suggests complimenting how cute your friend looks in an outfit. Follow it up with a good reason why you should be able to borrow it. Letting her know she looked so great that you simply must borrow it, will help your chances to take it home.

We received a mixed response when asking local women if they have a problem saying "no" to a friend that wants to borrow clothing. While some said they could definitely deny a friend closet access, others said they would feel guilty or selfish to say "no." Either way, respect your friend's decision and do not take it personally. She may have had a bad experience lending out clothes or the outfit may be new. Put yourself in their shoes and move on… not literally, of course.

You probably received the outfit clean, so please return it that way. If you ever want a chance to borrow from your sylish friend again, this is a must. According to Sherri, a downtown Cincinnati resident, it’s important to go the extra mile when cleaning. Remember ‘Dry Clean Only’ means just that. Just because you wash items in the gentle cycle, doesn’t mean your friend does. Go the extra mile to get it dry cleaned, and return items in prime condition. Next time you need to borrow an outfit, your friend won’t think twice before handing over her prized possessions.


How long should you keep borrowed items? The overwhelming response is one week maximum. Once the outfit has been used, get it cleaned and return it to your friend promptly. Becky, a local salon employee, says she should not have to bother someone to return what is hers. The lender may want to wear the outfit they paid for, only to find an IOU in their closet. Sherri adds, “I hate to ask for my own things back. It makes me uncomfortable, when it shouldn’t!”. While your friend may not miss some items you borrow as much as others, but it is important to earn her trust and return borrowed clothing quickly. Your friend was kind enough to trust you with her property. Return it to her and prove she was right about you.

Do not ask your friend to pick the item up from you or meet you out of her way to return her clothing. Out of the kindness of her friend loving heart, she put her possessions in your hands to wear. Make it easy and convenient for her by going the distance and making the effort to return borrowed goods.

Not everyone likes the responsibility of borrowing a friends clothes. However, when asking your friend to lend out her favorite outfit, make sure you extend the same courtesy. Let her know that any time she would like to borrow your clothes, the closet door is always open. As Daphne says, if they are a good dresser, then “yes, I want to borrow from them, too!” When you return your borrowed item, it’s easy way to pick up what you lent out, as well. Keep the lines of clothing communication open, and your friendship and wardrobe swapping shall last forever!

Don’t take advantage of your friends' generosity. Your good friend said you can borrow what you want any time. Keep in mind that does not mean daily, or even every weekend! Sherri has faced this issue first hand; “Some people are unaware of their boundaries. I had someone borrow things almost every day, and it guaranteed a slow return.” Someone giving you an inch does not mean you’re due a mile. Returning one item and immediately asking for another is just as bad. Your friend may likely tell you to start hitting the mall, instead of her closet. As Daphne says; “Hey, Forever 21 has cute clothes that are cheap!” It is a great benefit to borrow stylish clothes from friends. Don’t wreck that advantage and the friendship that goes along with it.

Everyone we spoke to unanimously agreed, there are friends you would lend things to and friends you wouldn’t. Work to be the respectful friend that is trusted with their fashionable possessions. Ask properly, clean properly and return items in a timely manner. It is a compliment to your friend, showing you like her style and respect her belongings and friendship. Your friends will extend the same courtesy, and it’ll be the beginning of a beautiful style sharing relationship for years to come!