News & Runway

The Five Commandments of Keeping Your Wardrobe in Great Shape

How many clothing items do you toss on a regular basis? And why do you toss them? Be honest. If it's because there's a stain, a missing button, the fit got messed up in the wash or you never could get that curry smell out after your little dinner mishap, you're wasting good money and good clothing. Let's take a look at how we can keep our clothes looking their best and wearing their best.

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Thou Shalt Avoid Washing Too Often

The fact is that most of us in the industrialized world with easy access to laundromats and in-home washer and dryers wash our stuff way too often. We wear it once, throw it in the laundry basket and forget about it until laundry day. It's one way to keep our overstuffed closets and drawers more manageable. But it's also a way to wear out your things unnecessarily fast. Unless it's denim you're dying to have that worn-in look, smell it, inspect for stains. If it looks all right and doesn't reek, put it back amongst your clean clothes.

Thou Shall Wash Like You Mean It 

Proper washing of your clothing (when it actually needs it) is half of the "make it last" equation. So listen up, everything your mom told you about sorting and temperature and detergent is true. Common washing mistakes: overusing cleaning products, shrinking clothing with overly hot water, overloading the washer. Make sure your garments have plenty of room to move around within the water, so they get thoroughly clean. Pay attention the instructions about how much soap and softener to use. In general, use cooler temperatures to wash clothes. Too hot water sets stains, shrinks clothing and wears out fibers. Turn your clothes inside out to protect the side that counts. And use a mesh bag to wash your delicate undies and bras. In the event of set-in stains, take it to your dry cleaner, period. They're like the ER doctors of stained clothing resuscitation.  

Thou Shalt Fix It (or Get It Fixed) 

Once upon a time a responsible adult might have a sewing kit and some extra buttons stored away to mend a lose hem, replace a button or adjust a strap. Nowadays, it's another excuse to toss. Seriously?! Cobblers and tailors still exist for a reason. They're there to replace zippers, hooks, fix holes so they're barely detectable, patch and, in general, fix. Incredibly, many of these mom and pop shops charge very little for their handiwork. Don't fall into the "I got it cheap, so it's not worth fixing" trap, either. It may have come from Forever 21, but that doesn't mean an inexpensive fix or alteration will somehow negate its usefulness in your wardrobe. Think about it. Start saving up your extra buttons, and feel free to ask mom or grandma how to sew one on (if you don't already know how).

Thou Shalt Layer 

Layering is useful for multiple reasons. It can help you regulate your body temp in unpredictable weather, it can prove sartorial savvy and it can save your heavier outer garments from smells and stains that force them to the laundromat sooner, thus wearing them out faster. It's simple really, for any of your sweaters, blazers and jackets (especially if the look calls for all three), start with a basic tee underneath. Much better to sweat and absorb perfume on an easily washed garment than one that could be ultimately ruined by too many trips to the cleaners.

Thou Shalt Know How to Hold 'Em (And Fold 'Em) 

No more wire hangers! These days you can get velvet covered hangers in packs of 10 at most drug stores. Use them. They won't stretch out the items you hang, nor will they insert unnecessary creases that you then have to iron out. Keep storage bins and racks out of direct sunlight, which fades colors. Avoid plastic garment bags for storing clothes. The chemicals in the bag leach into the fabric and can discolor or wear down fibers. Hang what you don't want to wrinkle (suits, blouses, button-ups, dresses, etc). Fold what you don't want to stretch out (T-shirts, sweaters, knit scarves).

Bottom image via IMAXtree