“Wear the old coat and buy a new book” – Austin Phelps
While out enjoying lattes with my pal Alyssa, she complimented the camel double-breasted coat I was wearing and asked where I got it from. I sheepishly admitted to her that it was a 5-yr-old find from Forever 21. “WHAT???” Alyssa sputtered out, almost choking on her latte. “Yeah – I wanted a camel coat and it was a steal at $20. I couldn’t say no…but I don’t buy my clothes there anymore! PROMISE!” I looked at the floor, hoping this eco-fashion maven wasn’t giving me and my coat the stink eye.
Alyssa looked pretty amazed. She wanted to know how I kept something from Forever 21 for so long. I explained to her that my Mum drilled into my head from a very early age that you MUST take care of your stuff. If it took your hard earned money to buy it, you better sure as hell take care of it.
This made a lot of sense to Alyssa, whose main interest is sustainable fashion. We currently live in a society where fast fashion is taking over. Why take care of an article of clothing that costs less than $10? Because our planet is suffering thanks to our mass consumption, and buying things of high quality less is the right thing to do.
So, my afternoon with Alyssa inspired this blog post on how to properly care for all of your clothing. Here are my best tips for keeping your wardrobe favourites looking great for as long as possible.
Did you know that most knitwear can be washed in your washing machine using the delicate cycle or by handwashing? Skip the dry cleaner and wash items made of wool in warm water using a gentle laundry detergent soap such as The Laundress. I wash my cashmere items by hand or in the machine on delicate cycle, then I lay them flat to dry on a towel.
Never wring out these items or hang to dry on a hanger. Both of these actions will stretch out or harm the delicate fibres.
To store these items, fold them carefully and tuck them away on a shelf or in a drawer.
Handwash your silk items in the sink using cold water and a delicate detergent like The Laundress or Woolite. You may also wash your silk garments in the washer on delicate, but test for colour fastness first. To do so, wet a small, inconspicuous area and dab with a white cloth. If the colour transfers, you’ll have to take this item to the dry cleaner.
So, you want to keep your dark denim as dark as possible, and your Levi’s Wedgie Jeans as cool and vintage-looking as possible. Do them both a favour and turn them inside out and throw them in the delicate cycle. Use cold water and hang them to dry using a drying rack. Separate them too from the rest of your laundry in order to not stain your other clothing.
True denim aficionados don’t even wash their jeans! They favour freezing them once they start to smell bad. I can’t even…sorry. #notsorry
Leather should be stored in a way that the skins can breathe. Never store leather in plastic garment bags or folded in a drawer. Instead, hang leather items carefully on good quality hangers to preserve shoulders of jackets and shirts. Leather pants should be hung using padded pant hangers also.
Once in a while, condition your leather using a leather moisturizer. This will keep the skin soft and supple, and prevent “greying”. You can find great leather moisturizers and leather goods stores such as Coach, etc.
Lastly, those beautiful leather designer handbags that we pay a mint for? When not in use, store them in their dustbags! Also, keep them stuffed with acid-free tissue paper to retain their structure and spray them with leather protector. BEFORE SPRAYING, double check with the store to ensure that leather protector is ok to use on your beloved bag.
Ironing your clothing is a really harsh process. If you aren’t careful and the iron is too hot, you risk scorching your clothing, fading colours and turning whites a sad shade of yellow. I learned these lessons the hard way when I ruined a vintage silk shirt with a little over zealous ironing.
So, I got myself a steamer and I haven’t looked back. I opted for a handheld model – the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Handheld Fabric Steamer. I seriously LOVE IT. It uses Advanced Steam Technology to reach 50% hotter temperatures than other steamers which won’t harm your clothing. No waiting around for this thing to heat up either as it only takes 40 seconds to reach optimal steaming and its deceivingly large water tank provides up to 15 minutes of continuous steam.
I have managed to steam everything with this little dynamo from my treasured Super 160 merino wool sweaters from ça va de soi to thick, heavy wool coats. This little steamer also comes with an aluminum steamer plate which acts like an iron to give pants perfect pleats!
Best of all, since I’m always in rush, I can steam my clothing and be on my way without hauling out the iron and ironing board and struggling with shirts to get the perfect press. This steamer eliminates the stress with its delicate bristle brush which allows steam to best penetrate fibres to loosen wrinkles quickly.
This may not be common sense to everyone but showering daily and using deodorant saves your clothing. Sweat can cause stains on the underarms and collars of clothing.
AND…if you know you are going to a kid’s birthday party or out for a sloppy pasta dinner, maybe it’s best to leave the incredibly expensive silk shirt at home.
Hair and Makeup
I learned quickly to get dressed after my hair and makeup is finished. Every now and then, I have gotten my chocolate coloured foundation on a favourite dress and that stuff does not come out. Hairspray and perfume can also stain clothing. I never understood why people spray they clothes with perfume or cologne – bad, bad, BAD!
Same goes for deodorant – make sure it is perfectly dry before putting on that favourite cashmere top.
The Evil Dryer
Sigh – the dryer. It eats socks and shrinks anything by Forever 21. It doesn’t have to be scorching hot! Turn it down a tad when drying your clothes are if possible, use your dryer’s “Eco setting” which is generally a little cool and less harsh on clothes.
Invest in a drying rack and air dry your delicates and lingerie. They’ll last longer, keep their shape and colour and won’t get tangled with other clothing.
Got any other tips you’d like to share? I’m all eyes and ears!
*Thank you, Conair, for the awesome steamer in exchange for my honest opinion!