‘I couldn’t bear him pulling in it’: writers on the clothes they pinched from their exes

Last Updated: June 12, 2024By

Why Wearing an Ex’s T-Shirt is So Cheeky (and Fun)

“It’s such a cheeky T-shirt,” actor Josh O’Connor recently told Rolling Stone. “Just so cheeky, and I really liked wearing it because it was just a bit like [raises shoulders and winks], ‘Told ya.’”

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He was talking about the now-famous T-shirt with the phrase “I Told Ya” from Luca Guadagnino’s new tennis film, “Challengers,” which is all about love, lust, and (ouch) torn ligaments.

The T-shirt, designed by the film’s costume designer and Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson, has a fun twist: it originally belonged to the character Tashi (played by Zendaya). Patrick (O’Connor’s character) ends up wearing it after a fight, and later, after their messy breakup, he sports it again just to remind her of their past. Talk about making a statement!

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Memories Woven Into Clothes

But not all clothes from exes carry such a dramatic backstory. Some are just too comfy to let go of. Take my old Kid Rock T-shirt, for example. It’s a memento from a teenage fling that fizzled out fast. I snagged it in 2003, right after high school, when I’d wear it on nights out, feeling free and rebellious. Funny thing is, I’ve never even listened to a Kid Rock song and, given his political leanings (yikes), I probably won’t wear it again. Still, it sits in my drawer, a quirky reminder of my youth.

We also asked some writers to share their own stories about clothes from exes. Here’s what they said:

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“I Wanted a Reminder – And I Was Bitter”

“I was young and petty. My ex left his only nice sweater, a Champion jumper, at my place, and I kept it out of spite. It was my way of holding onto him while also depriving him of his one cool look. I couldn’t stand the thought of him wearing it for someone else.” – Anonymous

“Did Someone Else Steal My Stolen Jumper?”

“At university, I stole her heart, and at the end, I stole her jumper. It was worn-out, but I loved it because it was a piece of her. I wore it for years, but now it’s gone. Did it fall apart? Did moths eat it? Or maybe someone else stole it from me? – Sam Wollaston

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“Her Yoga Pants Are Now My Long Johns”

“Sometimes, you keep an ex’s clothes because they’re just practical. My ex’s yoga pants, overlooked in our post-breakup stuff swap, are now my trusty long johns for cold nights. They’ve lost any emotional meaning, just like the worn-out seams.” – Anonymous

“It Never Occurred to Me to Give His Jacket Back”

“Finding the perfect denim jacket is a nightmare, and this one was perfect. My ex and I broke up 11 years ago, but it never even crossed my mind to return it.” – Anonymous

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“I Don’t Wear the Cap – But I Haven’t Thrown It Out”

“I have a Yankees cap from a guy I dated briefly. I don’t even remember why I took it. It doesn’t fit me right, but I just can’t bring myself to toss it.” – Elle Hunt

“It’s a Souvenir of Our Years Together”

“Friendship breakups can hurt more than romantic ones. I kept my best friend’s jumper from primary school as a keepsake. It reminds me of our fun times together, even though our friendship eventually fell apart.” – Nyima Jobe


Keeping clothes from exes is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s about holding onto memories, sometimes it’s just because the clothes are too darn comfy. Either way, these pieces become part of our stories, long after the relationships have ended.

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