One of the things I am facing on my no-buy year is how to keep clothes that are far from new, still looking fairly new. Here are 21 ways to get more longevity out of your clothes. Because they really shouldn’t be disposable items.
- Keep the repair kit
You know those little repair kits that come with some items of clothing? The spare buttons, beads and threads? Keep them. Keep them all. Stash them in a small box with a pair of sharp scissors and a needle and when things start to fall apart, mend them immediately.
- Take note of washing, drying and ironing instructions
This is a sort of a no-brainer but I think we are all guilty of not taking as much care as we could. Those instructions are so important if you want to make your clothes last. Here is a great guide on what all those diagrams mean.
- Hang indoors
Sunlight is a great disinfectant but it can also fade clothing. Hanging clothes indoors to dry in a well ventilated area can prolong their life.
- Learn how to make small repairs
I know that sewing isn’t for everyone, but having basic knowledge on how to stitch a slipped hem or replace a button will definitely result in longer-wearing clothes. Invisible mending can be quite tricky — although some dry cleaners offer this service. There is a bit of a trend towards visible mending in slow fashion circles and I think it’s quite a lovely way to approach it. You can see some amazing examples on Pinterest.
- Buy the best quality you can
This is key – a better quality garment is always going to out last it’s fast fashion cousin. This post will help you determine the quality of a garment.
- Don’t wash every single time – spot clean
Okay, some things definitely need a wash after a wear, but not everything. Clothes made of stiffer fabrics may not need to be laundered each and every time. There’s that rumour about never washing jeans after all.
- Wash and dry inside out
When you do have to wash, doing so inside out and drying the same way is also gentler on your clothes.
- Use a mesh bag
The mesh bag is my hand-wash cheat. For things that require a gentle wash, I tend to just pop them into the mesh bag designed for bras.
- Refresh blacks with a black dye wash
Blacks fade. It’s a fact of life. But you can make like Winona Ryder in Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael (remember that film?) and dye. This post is helpful regarding how to dye blacks back to black.
- Store clothes properly
Being careful about storing clothes will prolong their lives. Jumpers and other knits should be neatly folded and stacked. Hang other clothes on good quality hangers. Never the wire dry-cleaning ones. And when you do stash your seasonal items, make sure you treat them with care.
- Do up buttons and closures before you wash
It takes just a little time to do this before washing and it make sure things don’t snag and catch.
- Rotate your clothes
Giving all your clothes an even wear will help them last longer. Although I think we all have those one or two pieces that get worn every single week. Just take extra care with them.
- Avoid the dryer
I have a confession – I kind of love our dryer even though it’s not economical and not great for the environment. It’s also unkind on clothes. So avoiding it is a good idea when it comes to garments. It will take while for me to give up the soft, warm towels though.
- Use a cold water wash where you can
Cold water is kinder on fabric fibres.
- Buy clothes that fit (everywhere)
Continued stress on clothes in a particular area will lead to seams coming away. It’s just a fact of life. So if the cute top is just lovely everywhere else but too tight in the arms, go up a size or leave it. Stressed seams won’t last long.
- Don’t buy something if you aren’t going to look after it
I once bought a gorgeous silk top. It was originally $300 but through the magic of a Myer sales rack and a 70% of ticketed price miracle, I bought it for $30. And I treated it like a $30 top. It got piled in with the other laundry and it looked sad very quickly. Because I hadn’t made a big investment, I didn’t treat it with the respect it deserved. I wish I had.
- Be careful with your jewellery and snagging
A fine knit and a jagged bracelet are never going to mix. Just be aware of how your clothes and accessories are going to get on.
When you get bored of an item or it becomes tatty, think about whether you can inject new life by adding a new element. Maybe a patch or two on an old sweater will make it cute again. Old jeans might be perfect denim cut-offs. An old t-shirt can be made new again with a few strategic snips.
- Maintain your jewellery
It’s not just clothes that needs some love and care. Keeping your jewellery in good order (even the costume stuff) will also prolong wearing. Regular wipe overs with a soft cloth should do the trick.
- Don’t cram the clothes
Give your clothes some breathing room. Cramming a cupboard full of clothes so that you cannot take one piece out with dislodging another does nothing for keeping clothes neat and new-looking.
- Skip the spin cycle
Another hand-wash cheat. Skip the spin cycle on the machine to avoid stress on delicate fabrics and knits. Knits do well drying flat on a towel.
There are no doubt countless other ways to keep your clothes lasting a long time. But these serve me pretty well.
How do you extend the longevity of your clothes?
What’s the oldest thing in your wardrobe (I think mine is a dress I made over twelve years ago)