Sunday, May 17, 2009

The easiest way to save money on your wardrobe: take care of what you already have

All of us undoubtedly have had that one article of clothing or pair of shoes we loved so much that we just wore it to death, until it literally began to come apart. Over the long long run, there's no way to avoid that, but it is possible to extend the life of your favorite and essential wardrobe pieces so that you can get a lot of wear out of them.

The first and easiest thing you can do is remember to hang-dry any delicates or cotton-content clothes. Dryers are tough on fabrics, and letting them air-dry keeps them from shrinking and fading. Invest in a $20 drying rack and set it up where there's decent ventilation (so that they don't develop a mildewed smell).

Dryers aren't the only things that are tough on clothes--so are dry cleaners, but they're a necessary (and expensive) evil. Or are they? If you haven't discovered the Dryel home dry cleaning kits, give them a try. Good Housekeeping approves, and so do I--the kit really does work, and it's much gentler on your clothes. The kit costs around $10, but you'll find manufacturer coupons for it often, and the big drugstore chains have it on sale regularly.

Once you take your clothes out of the Dryel bag, that brings us to the other tool you should have on hand to keep your clothes looking like new, and that's a small handheld steamer. This will put the finishing--and professional-looking--touch on your dry cleanables (and on all your other clothes that usually feel the touch of the iron).

A steamer will do more than get rid of wrinkles, too. It'll put creases where you need them and restore the nap on fabrics like velvet. It's also easier on clothes than a steam iron, so you can say goodbye to that unwanted sheen that cotton and rayon clothes get from an overly hot iron. I own the Joy Mangano steamer, and it works like a champ. It doesn't take up a lot of room, and it's small enough to stick in the suitcase when I go out of town. You can pick one up for around $30 from HSN.

And your shoes should get a little attention, too. Learn how to polish your shoes (ask your dad or your brother if you've never tried it). Get rid of most scuff marks on lighter-colored shoes by gently scrubbing with a little toothpaste. Seek out your local shoe repair shop, and take your shoes in when a heel breaks or a sole wears down, instead of throwing the shoes in the trash. I have a pair of cowboy boots that are my go-to footwear with jeans, and I've been wearing them since I was in high school. They're well-made Acmes, but I've worn them just about to death. When the soles finally gave out on me about six months ago, there was no way I was about to toss them--I love those boots, and they were perfectly broken in. $30 and a trip to the shoe repair store later, I had new leather soles on them, and I continue to wear them every time the jeans go on.

No matter how well you care for your clothes, there are some things that can't be avoided--but in most cases, they can be fixed. Keep those extra buttons that come with your clothes--find a place to store them so that you can find them again when you need to sew on a lost or loose button. Never picked up a needle and thread before? No problem. YouTube has a wealth of how-to videos on just about any subject, including how to sew on a button, so you see how to do it (instead of just reading instructions).

For quick treatment of spills and spots, keep a few Shout wipes tucked in your purse. I'm aware that Tide also makes a stain remover pen, but I've tried it and it didn't work anywhere close to as well as the Shout wipes do; those little towelettes have saved many a garment of mine from permanent spots from mustard, marinara, red wine--and on and on. I'm a klutz, and I spill, so I really can't live without my Shout wipes.

For perspiration stains that develop over time around collars and under arms, there's a fix for that, too, and it's probably sitting in your medicine cabinet right now. The humble aspirin is a miracle worker for removing sweat stains from cotton and cotton-blend clothes. Just crush a tablet into some warm water, and soak the stained area in the solution before going into the laundry as usual. The video here will show you a demonstration of how this works--I was amazed when I discovered the trick.

When we talk about having a wardrobe of essential pieces, the unspoken idea is that we need to care for those pieces so that they last a really long time. Classics don't go out of style, so do what you can to make sure you don't have continually reinvest in replacement pieces.

1 comment:

  1. I'm most certainly going to try that asprin trick, thankz!