Wednesday, June 7, 2017

8 Tips to Make Clothes Last Longer

I very, very clearly remember wearing my beloved teal tank top to a friend's birthday party.  Not just any birthday party, her 16th birthday party.  (Hi Katie.)  Yes, we are currently 32.  So I've had this dang top for 16 years and tell me it doesn't still look fantastic, I dare you.  And it's not like I haven't been wearing it over the years, it gets regular rotation given my very small wardrobe.  I mentioned last week that I would share my best tips on how to make clothes last longer, so if anyone can help you, it's this girl who's been keeping and wearing the same clothes for 16 years.  (Side lesson - don't buy trendy things.)

These tips apply to your entire wardrobe, including the items you pick up at a thrift store.  The second hand pieces will last you just as long if you treat them right.

Learn How to Hang Your Clothes
There's clothes to fold and clothes to hang.  And I know that Marie Kondo recommends folding absolutely everything ever but that's a tip I don't agree with.  I do agree with her folding method and drawer organization method - storing things horizontally in the drawer instead of stacking vertically is much gentler on the clothes.  But if you have the closet space, try hanging your items.  I love the velvet lined slim hangers for this, because clothing doesn't slip off and fall to the floor, even if it's a lightweight material.  However, these don't work for coats or men's button up shirts because it causes creasing in the shoulders.  Those items need to go on the thicker wooden hangers that will hold their shape and not cause all the weight to be on that single point at the edge of the shoulder.  Also, always bring the hanger up through the bottom of the shirt, never shove it in through the neckline.  That's how you stretch and rip things.

Treat Stains Quickly and Correctly
I think that's pretty basic knowledge - the longer a stain sits, the harder it is to get out.  Treat stains as soon as they happen at least with cold water and some hand soap, or keep a stain fighter pen handy if this is a regular issue for you.  Then treat it specifically for the type of stain it is when you get home, before putting it into the wash.  For a list of the possible stains you might encounter and how to treat them, check here.  It usually involves pre-soaking and using a stain remover.  Making your own stain remover is super simple.

Hand Wash Delicates
You really have to hand wash bras and sweaters.  This one makes me sigh too.  So when we got fancy new washers, I made sure they had a hand wash cycle.  Problem solved.

Air Dry
The dryer is super, super harsh on clothes.  Try to get into a regular laundry system so you're not rushed to get things dry and hang them instead.  At the very least, try to hang your more important stuff that you want to last and save the dryer for t-shirts and pajamas.  Dry things on a low setting, in small loads.

Clean with Vinegar 
Don't worry, the smell of vinegar doesn't stay on your clothes.  But it does remove odor and stains without removing color, it's cheap, and it replaces the need for harsh fabric softener and dryer sheets that leave a residue on your clothes.

Use the Tailor
It's easier to take things in than let them out, so remember that when shopping.  Getting clothes properly tailor makes them last much longer because you're not doing things like ripping hemlines from your too long pants dragging on the ground.

Learn to Mend and Dye
Being able to sew up a tiny hole as soon as it happens is a great skill, and it's pretty simple.  As is sewing a button back on a coat.  You can also outsource this to a tailor, but it does pay to get this done right away so the hole doesn't become an unfixable mess.  If you have pieces that are fading but otherwise in good shape, you can re-dye them.  It's pretty simple to make your clothes black again and re-dye jeans.

Store Clothes Properly
I leave everything in my closet year round, which is one of the benefits of my small wardrobe: no need to store and rotate things.  But if you do, be sure to keep the clothes fresh and avoid mildew, bugs, and other dirt by making sure clothes are completely clean and dry before placing them in a vacuum sealing storage bag.

Any other clothing care tips to add to the list? How old is your oldest item of clothing you still regularly wear?

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