When I do a closet audit for a client, I often find a lot of garments that are in sad shape. I see fading, pilling, holes, stains, scuffs, and all sorts of flaws in the clothing and shoes that reside in my clients’ closets. Of course, some of these items are old and have passed their prime, but others are relatively new and should be in much better shape.
Although there will come a time when even our most treasured clothes and shoes will need to be discarded, there are things we can do to extend the life of our wardrobe. This post offers a few tips I’ve found beneficial over the years which I hope will be helpful to you as well.
Buy Better Quality
Sometimes clients are surprised that the t-shirt they bought at Target for $10 last year is now stretched out, pilling, and ready to be thrown away. Now I am not one to knock Target or similar discount retailers, but we need to be realistic in terms of what we’re getting when we shop there. The clothing offered at such stores is cheap for a reason, and the store is still making a profit despite the low prices we’re paying. They are cutting corners somewhere and often in multiple places, including fabric type and weight, workmanship, and quality control.
It isn’t an iron clad rule, but it is usually true that you get what you pay for. It’s fine to shop at lower-end stores, but don’t expect the things you buy there to last forever. What I recommend to my clients is that they purchase wardrobe staples and classics at medium to higher-end stores and buy trendy pieces at the discount retailers. Trendy items have a shorter shelf life anyway, so it usually isn’t a good idea to spend a large portion of your clothing budget for such things.
Store Your Items with Care
Do you hang your shirts and sweaters on the wire hangers you get from the dry cleaners? Or do you use the plastic tube hangers that are only slightly better? If so, please stop that!
Our clothes spend more time in our closets than on our bodies, so it’s important to store them properly. I recommend that you fold sweaters and knits whenever possible, as they have a tendency to become stretched out when hung. For other garments, I suggest the felt-wrapped hangers that not only protect your clothes; they also take up less space than standard plastic or wooden hangers. You can buy the original brand name “Huggable Hangers” at either Target or The Container Store, but I’ve found a similar version at Costco (not currently listed on their website) that works just as well.
Most people wash their clothes after every time they wear them and this is often not necessary. If you’ve only worn something for a few hours or if it wasn’t worn directly next to your skin, you might be able to get another wear or two out of it before a wash is really needed. When you do wash your clothes, here are a few other tips to help extend your clothing life span:
- Use warm or cold water instead of hot. Hotter water is harsher on clothing fibers.
- Wash jeans and pants inside out to minimize color fading.
- Hand wash bras and other delicate items and lay them flat to dry.
- Use mesh bags and the delicate cycle when machine washing lace or embellished garments.
- Hang clothing to dry on a clothesline or drying rack instead of using the dryer.
Shoe and Handbag Care Suggestions
The way we store our shoes also impacts how long they will last. Store shoes in their original boxes (you can snap a photo to attach to the box for easy identification) or in a shoe rack, as opposed to piling them into a box or on your closet floor. Use boot shapers to retain the shape of your boots in between wears.
To keep your shoes looking fabulous, I recommend using a Quick Shine sponge. It’s quick and easy, leaves no mess, and is very inexpensive. You can even keep one of these sponges in your handbag for quick touch-ups as needed.
Speaking of handbags, they retain their shape best when stored right-side up and stuffed with paper or fabric. Many better purses are sold in cloth bags that can later be used for storage purposes. The Container Store sells boxes and shelf separators which are useful for storing your handbag collection.
You’ve Read My Tips – I’d Love to Learn about Yours!
The above are just a few of my favorite tips for extending the life span of the pieces in your closet. I hope you found this post useful and learned a few things to help you get more out of your wardrobe.
I would love to read your suggestions for caring for your clothing, shoes, and accessories. Please feel free to comment below or contact me to share your wisdom. Also, if you have ideas for future posts, I would love to read those as well.