01/29/2013 05:42 pm ET Updated Mar 31, 2013

Is It Borrowing, Or Just Stealing?


When it comes to friendships, there are few things more awkward than returning clothing you've "borrowed" or honestly acquired after a significant amount of time has passed.

Borrowing a dress to wear to a wedding is one thing, but hosting a party and hanging your guests' coats in the closet -- only to find the day after that one of them left a very cute one is the kind of acquisition that may seem fun at first, but then eats away at your moral code.

Of course, there's always the argument (ahem, my argument) that if the person hasn't noticed something missing from their wardrobe, then how attached to it could they really be? You can try to convince yourself that it's an out of sight, out of mind type deal.

My closet has a few pieces in it that came from friends who "loaned" me articles of clothing, or carelessly left items at my house. I have a leather jacket that totally ties together my wardrobe -- a leather jacket that I inherited from a friend in New York. I don't exactly recall how it wound up in my possession, but I've had it for about three years. I know who it originally belonged to, and it would be super awkward to telephone her and say "oh hey, by the way, I just found your jacket in my closet ... remember that leather one you must have left behind a few years ago?" My train of thought goes something like this: If this jacket was a real staple for her, she's obviously gone out and purchased a replacement by now, right?

My mom recently found a gorgeous navy blue pea coat in her entryway closet. I commented on her stylish new piece to which she admitted "I found it in my closet! Someone must have left it at my house." It's a gorgeous, expensive wool coat, the kind of thing you'd have to notice was missing from your clutches. Apparently not.

It wasn't until I heard a family friend mention how embarrassed they were when someone asked then where they got their sweater. She blushed and said "It's a funny story actually, but someone left it at my house and I just think it's so cute." And so the debate ensued: should she tell the person that she had been hoarding her sweater for months? Or let it slide and just not wear it when she might run into that person?

Who are these people that leave their clothes behind? Are they as careless as I've convinced myself they are? And for their careless actions, do they deserve to have their items returned? Or, am I justified in thinking that if they've forgotten about it, there's no need to stir the pot and remind them that for the last who knows how long, their goods have been enjoying a semi-permanent change of scenery in my closet.

Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram at @HuffPostStyle.
Do you have a style story idea or tip? Email us at (PR pitches sent to this address will be ignored.)