How to Look After Your Clothes & Make Them Last
Updated: Feb 15
"Buy less. Choose well. Make it last." - Vivienne Westwood
Photos: Examples of things I've had forever! - Tee shirt I bought in Florence in 2010 repurposed - Dress from Glassons $2 on Trade Me so already preloved about 10 years ago - Platforms from Sydney 2011 - Vintage boots circa 1978 from Recycle Boutique
We’ve all got those favorite items in our wardrobe that we don’t want to be without. The dress that you reach for on days you want to feel confident and effortless, the winter coat that’s the perfect fit and colour and lifts your mood on dull days or in my case - the turquoise platforms that evoke memories of a trip to Sydney, and that I wore to both my wedding and my beloved dad’s funeral. WHY?
If you’ve taken my advice from November and identified your personal style, you'll own clothes that work with your personality and lifestyle, (not just what's on trend), and that you love - so you'll want them around for a while.
Whether it’s from the High St or something you spent a small fortune on, if you like it enough to give it precious real estate in your wardrobe you should treat it the same otherwise it’s wasteful.
Even if you tire of clothes if you've taken care of them -someone else might enjoy them through donating or re - selling.
Popular belief says that High St items are not made well but I disagree, I’ve got things from my stint in fast fashion from years ago that I still wear regularly.
So... at the risk of sounding like an advert for laundry products, or an article from Women's Weekly, here are my tips for keeping your clothes in great condition. WARNING THE FOLLOWING MAY CONTAIN HAND WASHING.
Do your repairs on the regular -tears, missing buttons, loose threads, deal with them before the next wear to save more damage.
Deal to stains asap - Earthwise stain remover works better than the chemical ones and is kind to the planet. Apply it as soon as you can after the spill, leave it on for a while then wash. It works on stains and grubby sleeves and collars.
Soak your light coloured clothes overnight with normal washing powder, once they’re rinsed they’ll be gleaming.
Invest in a de - piller they don’t damage the fabric so if you’ve got knitwear that has pilled, spend a night in front of the telly with one of these to bring it back to new. You can get them from supermarkets, Spotlight, K Mart and The Warehouse.
Hang it in the sun! Coats, jackets or dry clean only items can benefit from a day in the sun, (and wind), and a few sprays of Febreez or your favourite perfume.
Feed leather bags and shoes with dubbin or a good wax based balm. (You can make your own with beeswax and oil melted together and left to solidify) - add lavender oil for a nice scent.
Shoes can look really shabby if you don’t look after them. I wipe them out every now and then with antibacterial wipes, polish them and always get them re heeled before it’s too late- Mr Minute in Lambton Square does an awesome job and is super reasonable.
Stuff shoes, boots and bags to keep their shape when not in use.
Before packing things away for the season check there are no stains (or last night's spag bol), you have missed, seal them up to avoid moths and throw in some nice soap to keep them sweet.
Repurpose - I bought a tee shirt in Florence 10 years ago and loved the graphic so much I hand washed it. When it finally gave up the ghost last year I made it into a cushion. (See photos above).
More examples of things I've made last:
- Coat I bought in 2012 from Max
- Dress I've had for over 10years that was already second hand
- Top I bought in about 2009 at The Leather Shop - shoes from Wild Pair around the same time
Yip, here it is folks, you need to hand wash anything with even slightly delicate or fine fabric or anything you really want to last. Even on a delicate wash things lose their shape and fade faster washed in the machine. For more expensive items this will ensure they keep their resale value if you decide to sell them later on.
If the thought of hand washing fills you with dread, try throwing them in after you’ve had a bath with your favourite bath salts or soap then 2 quick rinses and you’re done and your clothes will retain a nice scent.
Downgrade! If you have an item that has lost it’s shine but you still love make it work for you in another area of your lifestyle. Your go to classy cashmere jumper not looking so classy after years of wearing it to work? Wear it around home for cosy nights on the couch. Your favourite night out jeans lost their mojo? Wear them to walk the dog - he won’t notice.
Apologies for the long list but I hope you find some of these ideas and examples useful - this blog is a bit off topic for me but I think it’s really important not to have a “throw away” attitude when it comes to fashion. Even if you’re tired of something, if you’ve looked after it someone else may get some wear out of it through a charity shop or if you on sell it. Look out for my next blog at Easter - with Autumn in the air I'm thinking of doing "How to layer" but I'm open to suggestions in the comments or by email. Follow me on social media for ideas, inspiration and fun with fashion and style or - call me to book a free half hour assessment to see how we can make your clothes work for you.