Can Clothes Be Haunted?

Dear Libra Dress Historian,

My Virgo aunt was the Queen of op-shopping. She dressed entirely in designer clothes and shoes from Op Shops. She had accessories in every colour. Before she left this earthly realm late in 2009 she gave me a full-length Chanel overcoat, initially discovered in the local church shop.

I could not get a piece of clothing to fit me more perfectly than this royal blue overcoat accessorised with Gold Chanel buttons.

As a Libra I’m quite comfortable being the centre of attention and can speak to a crowd but even though I live in a cold climate I cannot bring myself to wear this coat very often and have worn it twice in four years.

It’s a bit too showy, even for me. So it hangs in the wardrobe and I wear a black knee-length coat on particularly cold days. It seems like such a waste.

My question is: I give all my clothes to charity but cannot bring myself to wear anything from Op Shops. It’s as if the spirit of previous owner of the clothes is still present (whether they are alive or dead) and I just don’t feel comfortable.  Do some signs inhabit their clothes long after they have stopped wearing them?

Libra9

Dear Libra9,

I’m not sure whether particular signs are more prone to lingering in their clothes posthumously, but I imagine that Fixed signs with their ego-strength would be the most pervasive. Your late aunt certainly seems an atypical Virgo.

Collecting accessories in every colour and strategically sourcing high-value bargains might be Virgo traits, but blithely ignoring the fact that your finds have been in contact with other peoples’ dead skin-cells goes against her sign’s trademark preciousness and hypochondria.

But to turn to you, I think that Libras might be especially resistant to Op or charity-shopping. Though Libras are generally easy-going, that cardinal Venusian energy makes them opinionated in matters of fashion and beauty. They also like to be tastemakers, with a strong personal sense of style that can adapt to incorporate current trends.

When I look at myself and my Libra friends, none of us make a big deal out of charity shopping. If we have second-hand pieces they blend in so seamlessly with the rest of our wardrobes that you’d never be able to tell.

Perhaps your aunt’s Chanel coat, no-matter how glamorous or perfectly fitting feels odd when you wear it because it was inherited, not chosen- as though it was imposed on you. I personally think that you should let go of any guilt that comes from not wearing the coat. It’s fine to pass it on and keep the memories of your aunt.

I had a similar situation recently when my Gemini grandma tried to give me her heavy gold chain. Just looking at it made me sad and I knew I’d rather have happy memories of my grandma, so I gave it to my sister and bought a delicate pearl necklace instead.

Lastly, look to your moon sign as well, because the moon governs our emotional response to clothes. While Pisces and Cancer moons love a little history in their outfits and are often happily haunted by wearers past, Capricorn and Aries moons like to be the first to break in an outfit.

And Leo moons, of course prefer selective haunting- only cast-offs from royalty, or at least an eminent family member, will do.I hope this helps,

Libra Dress Historian x

Katerina Pantelides is a dress historian and writer living in London. A Libra with Neptune rising, she is interested in the relationship between fashion, beauty, and the occult.

Image: Corinne Day

85 thoughts on “Can Clothes Be Haunted?”

  1. Aries Moon Maiden

    This Aries Moon loves clothing that has had a previous life. I buy a lot of things at thrift stores. Great quality, unique items and a price I can afford.

  2. I have worked in the fashion industry for many years so I have seen first hand cutters perspiring over lays, sewers spitting on their fingers for traction, finishers with bleeding fingers sewing hems and buttons…then into the shop to be tried on by many people. So I am happy to wear second hand clothes after I have washed them myself.

    1. Year of the Phoenix

      I have worked in the fashion industry for years as well….

      Something I learnt, spit gets blood out – we had a big work room in Oz with upto 20 hand sewers and if you pricked your finger, you’d get a bit of spit on some rolled thread and hey presto.

      Also doesn’t leave watermarks on silk – so when hasty presser has pressed in creases – a bit of spit and it drops out.

      Used to laugh to myself bout the ladies who lunch wearing my spit!

  3. Love Love Love vintage. Always have, always will.
    (sun/moon/mercury/ neptune in Scorp, and Aries rising)
    Not superstitious about it in the slightest – in fact I reckon I’d scare the bejesus outta most self-respecting coat-hanger hangers-on.
    😉

  4. Aries moon here–I haven’t bought a “new” article of clothing …it’s been years–don’t know how long! I love second hand clothes–or clothes swaps. I always clean them/smudge them (sage/palo santo) before wearing though.

  5. If the coat fits you so perfectly, have you thought about getting creative on it and making it an up-cycled treasure?

    Get those gold buttons off and replace them with less Chanellesque fixings, line the edges of the coat with some crazy beautiful material and voila! What chanel coat?

    1. My thoughts exactly Kel.I would remove the buttons and replace them with fabric self-covered buttons, (probably in a tweed or fine leather unless you can find some others of appropriate size and material ie not plastic.) Sell the Chanel buttons on ebay.
      I have been a fan of vintage clothes and fabrics for nearly 40 years, loving the quality of the fabric and work womanship. I love the cut, construction and drape of 40s and 50s dresses and the tailoring from those periods. And the fabrics, particularly the prints! I air or wash clothes before wearing them and dont worry any more than that. I have my moon in Aries but it is to my Venus in Aries that I attribute my vintage sensibility and appreciation of pre-synthetic glamor.

  6. Oh my goodness, Libra Dress Historian. Glad to know from you and so many others that what I feel is real. Have been trying to adjust to the coat, but not succeeding and now I know why. Moon in Aqua. I have my mother’s wedding dress, which I obviously will never wear. Wonder if my Gemini fashionista daughter will want a vintage 50s wedding dess one day?

    1. libra dress historian

      Omg we share the same moon sign too! As I was reading your query I was thinking about how you had described my own feelings on second hand. Aqua moons are fiercely independent and hyper sensitive to past owner haunting. Our need for space and a feeling of renewal often isn’t suited to inherited garments. But with regard to your Gemini daughter, who knows? If she does wear the 50s dress it’ll have to be jazzed up with modern accessories as Gemini’s like to be authorised courant. X

      1. libra dress historian

        Oops I meant au courant. Not so aqua moon that I’ve mastered my new phone!

      1. For sure – he will be picking up on the VIBE – maybe you could smudge them? But then, of course, he would smell a bit like stale weed. Crystal and salt spray?

  7. The utterly wonderful Alison Lurie wrote a collection of short stories called Women and Ghosts, which included a haunted watch and a cursed slip.

  8. The Leo Socialite

    Can clothes be haunted?

    I have been POSSESSED by a dress. It was Vintage. Deep sea blue Shangtung silk sheath knee length with beading at the decolletage. Made by a Shanghai tailor circa the 60s. It leapt out at me in a sea of mediocrity in a church shop, me aged 17.

    So flattering i could scream. When i wore it, i was another woman, wiser, sleek like a sexy panther, very, very cynical about the ways of men. But in a cool way. It cost me $2 because the idiots in the shop could not see the dress deity.

    One day the dress disappeared, like a ghost into the dawn. I was left with my motley collection of mainstream clothing and the mystery of where she went. I have personally haunted designer vintage stores ever since.

    1. That’s a wonderful story!!
      Please write a book on Fashion, Modelling and the Dress Deity, I will so read the hell outta that.

      There has to be an spiritual consciousness/deity dedicated to Modelling too.. any thoughts? 🙂

    2. Year of the Phoenix

      Great story and you’re very lucky I was not in that church jumble sale 5min before you!

      I always wanted to write short histories for some of my finds, knowing that had lived big lives before I found them

  9. Libra dress historian

    OK it’s official- Virgos are the masters of non-Virgin clothes (couldn’t resist the pun) I guess it takes a resourceful, detail-orientated mind to scout out the best stuff and adapt it. And clothes ARE haunted

    1. …just call us the archive-witches of our granny’s attic. something about being mutable makes for some excellent transmutation skillz with those old ghosty textile haunts. think some of the others nailed it: sort, change, use, transform xx

  10. Wear the blue Chanel overcoat. Wear it all the time, everywhere, even if you’re massively overdressed. Then after a while, it will be YOUR coat and not hers. And then you can do with it what you will.

    But then, consider this is advice from a Taurus that wore the same Doc Martens shoes for 20 years (and still would be wearing them, if they hadn’t fallen apart).

    1. That’s not a bad approach. “Wear it until you love it!!!!!!!” (From Man in the Iron Mask, except the coat is nice and comfortable not a hideous metal mask)

      Charles I have a question. The docs. What did you do when the soles wore out? I am a veteran shoe re-soler but docs are different. I have been known to wear beloved shoes until parts of of my foot are in contact with bare ground, so enamoured am I of some shoes. I want to have a plan for when my docs start to show similar wear. They are made in China now so I anticipate a decline I’m awesomeness and after-market attention… :/

      1. Most cobblers won’t re-sole DMs, but apparently Doc Martens still say that they will continue to re-sole them for life – but that’s in the uk. I dunno if there’s an official doc marten store in oz? You could try them. I doubt whether it will be economically viable though. Besides, my osteopath said that it’s bad to keep wearing the same shoes for a long time, as we imprint our shoes with whatever bad posture/habits we have, so it’s good to change them especially if you’ve had work done on your body – otherwise you’ll just revert back to bad habits again by wearing the same old shoes you wore before your treatments…hope this makes sense…Which means that buying second hand shoes, means possibly buying somebody else’s posture/walking defects.

      2. Well my tread wore down to almost nothing, which made them pretty dangerous in winter ice, they were more slippery than any shoe I ever wore. But I only stopped wearing them because the leather upper tore apart near my little toe. I could probably have it mended but they’re so decrepit it’s not worth it.

        It looks to me like the Docs sole is a standard Vibram sole but in an unusual rubber material. I would presume these soles are available as replacements since Docs are so common. But I have no idea.

  11. Interesting… I would say yes, clothes can be haunted. Now it makes me think that anything I have from my Grandparents are lingering with me. I don’t mind since I like having their presence around.

  12. It’s like that Little Britain episode “Do you know if anyone died in this” as she holds up an Op Shop clothing article.

  13. If I just enter a second hand clothing store/ depot I am repelled by the whole ecosystem. In short, I see dead people…. Well no, maybe that’s a dramatization , anyway I do feel a certain type of sadness. There are obviously some in the business who have overcome this obstacle by presenting the garments with a bit of glamour and offering well maintained crafted pieces.
    To me these are the pieces that carry the haunting vibe. The clothes in regular op shops remind me of flowers in a cemetery.

    1. Maybe that’s why my Scorp moon likes cemetery flowers…they ARE slightly spooky.
      Not to have in my home, I like the usual succulents and living, happy things, but I kind of like the cemetery vibe

  14. As a crab moon & rising I’ve always liked vintage not only clothes but stuff for decades, I’ve got lovely pieces some vibe better than others…..lately I’m recoiling from it all.

  15. LIbra Moon. Cap rising. Lots of Sagg bits.
    Love love love my navy Betty Liano extra extra long slim slim legged, low rise as new jeans, that were found in the Salvos for……..$7.
    It’s the best place for pre-worn (and new that were donated) jeans. Tax deduction for designer donations.
    My Carla Zampatti silk tops/blouses also new x 3 are collector’s items.
    Worn with the BL jeans and we are looking at 400 dollar outfit for under 20. So no qualms about vibes with those bargains 🙂 Sagg luck in action.
    This means there is money left over for Dita’s cutie-lacie sweet nothings.

    Although with a muscle dog now, my style HAS to change. Hoodies?Double denim? Leather?

  16. Year of the Phoenix

    Virgo/Virgo Rising Scorp Moon

    Have to disagree LOVE opshopping from 15 on (80’s were the golden years!) my beautiful collection was given away in a 90’s hippy moment (bloody saw a girl walking down the street in one of my one offs – deep regret)

    Had my own tshirt label in 00s and studied fashion so made heaps for myself still do but mainly just alter (5ft nothing)

    I still have a few beautiful pieces and lucky enough to have lived in Singapore very early on so Mum had some gorgeous things made….

    Now give more than shop but still have no probs with 2nd hand

      1. Ha, I have always wondered about this situation. I am a long term wearer of vintage and second hand. I don’t even think twice about it. If something gives me the creeps though, not sure of that’s ever happened but if it did I would probably not buy it.

        Love what you have to say about this, Ms L. Dress Historian. As a Pisces I swim about in people’s energy anyway i guess, so what difference is a bit of fabric going to make.

        Lastly unless I spend thousands, it is totally impossible to locate the quality, cut and fabrics of true classic styles that were manufactured in previous eras. Rare for someone to complement me on a present-day outfit , but as soon as the pre loved gem goes on, it’s a conversation starter. Not that this is my aim however, it’s simply a love of the garment as a well made thing that suits me perfectly.

        Related, I love wearing my dad’s clothes (shirts I guess). men’s attire in general too. Now that he has gone to the great Armani store in the sky, I wear his stuff (the things I kept) as a way to remember him or be close to him. Fashion textiles and the associations with the corporeal have an enduring fascination for many… Me incl 🙂 xx

      2. Year if the Phoenix

        I love to wear men’s clothes too and had a favourite red wool jumper of our fathers in the mid 80’s that mum reminded me recently friends would come to the door and borrow – boys and girls : )

        I think as girls we are so much more able to shift between the stereotypes much more than boys. One of my lil twin nephews has told us on number of times he wants to be lady when he grows up (from around 4)

        there was a subtle aside about it recently just between he his bro and me because basically his father will yell at him to NEVER say it again

        Their mother, my twin sister has already told Arian dad that if in the future that what he wants to do, she’s on her sons side

        I tell them that it’s perfectly normal and that everyone is a female when you are conceived and boys become boys in the womb so it’s a spectrum.

  17. Yes! Oiu! Si! Houses, mattresses, jewellery and crystals, gloves, hats, scarves and clothes all absorb energies and vibrations & don’t emit much themselves!

    No matter how much I want to be a proud vintage wearing, thrifty, all-embracing-of-other’s-cellular-DNA person, I can’t.

      1. Awesome question! I have come across quite positive energy in clothes but it still bears the energy signature of the wearer, and in that sense it doesn’t ‘fit’ me.

  18. Mrs Mulligan Tinkerbottoms

    Like many other substances, wood, paper and jewellery being prime examples, clothes DO retain the energy of their owner. I don’t like wearing vintage for this reason. Always been super sensitive to it. And I’m a happy go lucky Sag.

  19. I’ve had to get through life in some very difficult financial situations. I don’t worry about wearing other people’s pre owned clothes. Had weeks in a hospital with only donated clothes from the lost property. Sadly never the right shoe size could be found. Kinda think that’s because even I didn’t want to be found there either.

    I donate my clothes and I do feel uncomfortable about this, as I fear not having the funds to purchase clothing in the future. Kataka Sun a natural born worrier.

    In my youth I’d paint on clothing and deconstruct clothes and hand sew them back together into a new creation. Aqua in the 1st and 12th houses to blame here. I still wear jumpers as bottoms, but I am born that way.

      1. Your eccentric moon ways always make me smile. 🙂
        I’ve got sample pills from the shrink, which will cost $730 per year. That’s what you get for having an allergy to Prozac.
        Guess at the end of the day, it’s you that defines your soul’s purpose not the origin of your clothing.

      2. I had such a severe reaction to it, the Dr wants to say it’s an allergy. So glad I did change shrinks because I don’t I’d be alive, if I’d stayed with her and on that medication.

      1. I was in hospital and it was cold and I had limited clothing options.
        You’d need to cut out a section for your face. Scissors are difficult to get your paws on in the psych ward.

      2. aah yes – you need a hole for your head …..gawd, the visuals and the bottom of the barrel humour are an indication of my despondency at the moment …..i’m even more frustrated now than when mars was in libra…what is going ON?!

      3. Katakans still doing it tough at the sensitive corner of the grand cross gnar. Call on Saturn trining your suns from strong Scorpio to help you through? Xox pi

      4. ok, thanks Pi….i’ll try…but sheesh, that requires thought and deciphering astro psychology which is brain work – and i’m so fuqing tired of thinking. Would climbing a peak and howling like a demented she-wolf help – coz that’s what i feel like doing.

  20. That’s funny. My Libra partner hates op shopping; he says he has a physical reaction when entering one and can’t stay long as they make him feel depressed. He has a sag moon.

  21. Virgo Sun/Libr Rising/Scorp moon here – and I have a different view, all respect to the lovely Dress Historian and other Virgos who agree with her… I don’t mind dead skin cells at all and I have iron faith in the lovely ladies of the thrift shop massive and their collective ability to wash/sort the hell out of the clothes so that such minutiae matter about as much as the nanoparticles of great great nanna, your ancestor of ten generations ago and in fact our prehistoric elders, all of which cover us daily anyway and live on in our own skin (and its constant shedding). Second, I wear 97% thrift shop excellence for pure originality but most of all, yes, THRIFT THRIFT THRIFT! One is not wasting a thing, in particular not squandering the hard-worked energy of those who created the clothes and who wore the clothes and who set up these shops and staff them voluntarily and support a whole mega industry of good intention – all those people – nothing wasted! Yes! Third, when we buy thrift we are not buying into childsploitation industries to which the majority of mass produced clothing still seems to scaffold. All these Thrift-shop values, to me, are muy Virgoan and this pleases me no end.

    Waste nothing.

    Take on the mantle of your forebears, they’re in you anyway.

    Work those ghosts, they are made of energy that is useful to you (this might be my scorp speaking)

    🙂

    1. Mrs Mulligan Tinkerbottoms

      As adorable as the thrift shop ladies are, I’m pretty sure they don’t wash the clothes …

      1. Figuratively speaking. Washing with stout and stringent commitment to Being Part Of The Community: no better energetic detergent, I think 😀

      2. Bless you for your appreciation of community-level activity. Think global act local! No better example. Xxx

      1. Pi / Pegasus / Seagoat: 🙂 all mah siblings in the thrift shop wearing everyone’s grandmammy’s clothes – all more the power to us ;D xxx

    2. I agree 100%! I buy a lot of thrifted clothes. While I do believe that objects possess energy, I also believe in the awesome power of my own huge ego/energy to blast any residue away- that and a good washing. 😉

      (Spaces are a different story. While I’m still remarkably resistant, my present home, built 1914, needed a good energetic clean-out. Visitors were being greatly affected by it- getting sick, etc.)

      1. hehe. Word. Your excellent ego can absorb that shizz, and make it your own, right? 😉

        (yeah, agreed, but spaces are under geometric and feng shui forces so it is a little different from organic, fluid textiles that move and flutter and wear and stretch – totes agree with need for abode-cleansing)

      2. Ha, DP as a fellow Aries I second that 🙂

        The clothes become mine, imbued with my energy pretty fast after they are washed and often altered slightly to fit better, hems taken up etc.

        I love the construction quality of the way they were made, and often the prints. Always get compliments on my outfits when wearing vintage

    3. Same here. Virgo – Sun, Mercury, Uranus, Pluto. I don’t mind that other people wore the clothing before me as long as it’s clean. Recycle, recycle, recycle. Reduce the landfill, share with others (I donate when I am done with clothes) and do not support the horrible sweatshop abuses! We Virgos love being prudent and protecting our earth. Also Aquarian moon influence I am sure. I also like the discovery of thrift and the style. Love the pure, natural fabrics and craftsmanship. I did once have a dress which gave me bad vibes, however and I felt distinctly that something bad happened to someone in that dress. Very sad. I gave it to a friend who claimed she didn’t understand WTF I was talking about.

  22. Sun, moon and mercury in cancer and yes I wear second hand. I am virgo rising though. I used to wear a lot more when i was younger especially in my early 20s. Partially because I had no money and also it was the fashion amongst my friends. I was very into grunge and alternative music and saw live bands 3 times a week.

    I don’t wear second hand so much now. I have more money and like to look a little better groomed, I don’t think I can get away with looking shabby as I approach my mid 40s. I do wear some second hand pieces though. I love the sixties look, it really is my favourtie retro period and i have a few nice original dresses.

    I had the most fantastic dress in my early 20s which my mum made in the sixities, it fitted me perfectly as my mum and I are very similiar in shape, all i did was take it up 4 inches. It was a winter frock. A-line deep red wool with fur around the hood, satin lined, fabric covered buttons down the front. I felt like the coolest girl in the universe when i wore that with my doc martin boots. Sadly it got eaten by moths.

  23. Lux Interior is My Co-Pilot

    I believe clothes hold the energy of the wearer, but a good smudging with mugwort and an airing in direct sunlight soon banishes any lingering vibes.

    I do this with my OWN clothes if I’ve had a particularly bad day/experience in them.

  24. Sag Sun, Pisces Rising, and Gemini moon, with Venus, Pluto, Saturn and Jupiter in Libra.

    I’m ridiculously fussy about my wardrobe. I wear secondhand all the time, but obvious period vintage is very much not my thing. I like beautiful fabrics and simple but well tailored cuts… the clothes I can actually afford new tend not to have these things. Someone would need a very trained eye to figure out what store or even era my clothes come from.

    That said, I have articles that feel like the letter writer’s coat — somehow not quite right, but so beautiful that I spend awhile trying to make them work. I don’t attribute this to haunting so much as a very specific set of personal tastes… at some point, I have to give up and serve those tastes rather than expecting them to serve me. Venus wants what Venus wants!

  25. I have long held the belief that clothes do hold the energy of the wearer, especially shoes. I love second hand clothes and always wash before wearing and will hang them out in the sun, rain and wind before wearing to cleanse them. Some clothes I do reject on feeling their vibrations or I just won’t pick them up.

    My daughter used to wear my nighties when she was younger if she felt afraid at night, and she said she felt safe when wearing them. She often borrowed them for this reason even though they were huge on her!

    1. You are sooooooo right..OMG they do! I had an Italian Aunt that lived in Italy and used to be an opera singer in Milan and was in every sense a ” DIVA ” I found this luscious red velvet flowing robe at the thrift that had Aunt Egle written all over it. I washed it, fluffed it, fawned over it and hung it up in my bedroom over night to admire it before I sent it out overseas.. Oh brother, that dang thing woke me up in the middle of the night and literally scared the death out of me. Whomever owned the robe previously either must of had a strong persona or something going on. This was my first and last encounter with a haunted piece of clothing. I do watched and now feel objects before they come into my household for fear of what they might bring in! Yes I did send it off but she passed away shortly after so there was no news of her joy in wearing it.

    2. I COMPLETELY agree. I have a ton of water in my chart and I just can’t wear clothes from another person without feeling them, if that makes sense. I keep a few select memory pieces from people that are gone, but I couldn’t wear something important, special occasion, or everyday without feeling haunted by them.

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