Dressing yourself can be an expensive business. But arm yourself with our clothes-conserving tips and your credit card won’t need to take another beating.
This is our guide to making what you’ve already got earn its keep, and your wardrobe go the distance.
1. Bark Up The Right Tree
Anyone who’s actually seen a pair of shoe trees in all their Instagrammable glory should need little convincing of their worth: not only are these handsome pieces of craftsmanship, they’ll add years to your footwear, too.
Suppress the temptation to stick them in your slippers, and lodge in your favourite leather footwear instead. Shoe trees will retain the shape of your brogues, Derbies and Oxfords, wicking away moisture from wear and stopping creasing in its tracks. Who said you can’t have beauty and brains?
Wooden Shoe Trees, available at barker-shoes.co.uk, priced £35.
2. Banish Bobbles For Good
Jumper plagued by unsightly bumps that just won’t seem to budge? Unlike acne in your adolescence, bobbling on clothes is one problem that doesn’t get better with age. Thankfully, though, it’s a lot easier to fix than a facial flare-up.
Invest in a cashmere comb or an electronic fabric shaver to gently remove pesky pilling and give your knitwear a new lease of life. Cheap, easy and oddly therapeutic.
Philips GC026/30 Fabric Shaver, available at Amazon, priced £18.12.
3. Don’t Wash Your Clothes Too Often
Getting overzealous with the washing machine is just about the fastest track to reducing your most-loved garms to a pile of scrap. Save your wardrobe – and the planet – with a hefty dose of common sense when choosing what to wash: if it looks and smells clean, it’s probably clean.
Yes, gym kits, underwear and that tee you don exclusively for demolishing mounds of spaghetti should be washed after wear, but jeans and jumpers – provided you’ve steered clear of the stables – very rarely need the same treatment after just one outing.
4. Seal Your Suede
It doesn’t take a medicine degree to know that when it comes to crisis management, prevention is invariably better than cure. So take a leaf out of your doctor’s book to keep your suede stain-free.
Apply a light layer of fabric protector before your first wear – remembering to keep your distance when spraying (15-20cm should do the trick) – and rest secure in the knowledge that your nap’s safe and sound. Just remember to give it a top up every now and then.
Liquiproof Fabric Protector, Available at END Clothing, priced £24.
5. Know When To Fold, And When To Hang
Turbo-charging your wardrobe’s longevity requires a stellar storage strategy. Ignore this and certain items will instantly give away your slovenly stowing habits.
Knitwear has a tendency to head south when hung, so fold yours neatly and place in a drawer to ensure it doesn’t look like your prize from a sample sale tug of war. As an added bonus, you’ll ditch those weird hanger marks, so no more jutting pseudo-collarbones. Always good.
Suits and shirts, on the other hand, should always be hung on natural wood hangers which will help maintain shape, relax any creases that have developed and wick away all that moisture soaked up during boardroom showdowns.
J.S. Hanger Multifunctional Solid Wood Hangers, available at Amazon, priced £13.95.
6. A Change Will Do You Good
T-shirts, shoes, suits, shirts – practically anything you can think of – need proper time to ‘relax’ after they’ve been worn. Why? Well, unless you’re showering fully-clothed (please don’t) everything you wear will retain some odour and moisture from your sweat.
What does that mean for your clothes? Hard-to-shift smells, deep-set stains and bizarrely warped shapes. Not ideal. So, step away from that tee that gets more airtime than Donald Trump’s toupee and try wearing something else for a change.
7. Check Your Pockets
Just as important as savvy washing is a pre-wash security screening. Rogue tissues, coins and other paraphernalia can wreak havoc on your clothing if not filtered out before you push the ‘On’ button.
So, before taking your clothes for a spin, be sure to check pockets for hangers on, zip up trouser flies, loosely tie drawstrings and close Velcro fastenings.
8. Fabric – Friend or Foe?
All the curative style hacks in the world can’t beat the smug satisfaction gained from having your clothes perform well in the first place. So future-proof your wardrobe by making savvy fabric selections from the get-go.
Polyester may be the most terminally unfashionable fabric of all time, but it’s actually a pretty durable choice, and makes for great gymwear as it can withstand persistent washing.
Meanwhile, on the more stylish side of the spectrum, there’s a lot to be said for virgin wool’s skill set, which not only includes optimal insulation, but impressive durability too.
9. Always Separate Colours
Welcome to Clothes Washing 101. It might be tempting to deploy the one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with your dirty washing and dumping it into the drum in one big bear hug, but it’s almost always bad news for your whites. Why? Because due to their paler disposition, they’ll attract and soak up any loose dye that runs from surrounding darker garments.
Want to keep your whites as they were intended? Wash dark colours (black, navy, forest green etc.), light colours (pale yellow, pink, baby blue, heather grey etc.) and whites in three separate cycles. Tedious, yes, but the only way to avoid your entire underwear collection turning lilac.
10. Let Your Shoes Shine On
Shoe-polishing is a dying art. No, we’re not (in true hipster fashion) lamenting the sore loss of something we never really had any experience of to begin with (ahoy, fishermen of London Fields), but rather reminding you just how important it is to keep your shoes satiated.
As a natural material, leather benefits from care similar to what you’d give your face. Consider shoe polish your footwear’s equivalent to a good moisturiser. It’ll keep them wrinkle-free for longer, safeguard them against the elements and give a sheen that makes you look money. OK, so maybe the latter isn’t that desirable for your face.
Wolf Blake Pebble-Grain Leather Shoe Shine Kit, available at Mr Porter, priced £90.
11. Steam Your Clothes
Despite its prowess in ridding your clothes of creases, ironing isn’t all good news for your gear. After all, a scorching hot slab of metal making its way across your clothing doesn’t sound all that healthy, does it?
At best, the heat and pressure of ironing will gradually take its toll over time, wearing fabrics thin. At worst, you’ll be left with the dreaded ‘suit sheen’ – that tell-tale sign you’ve carelessly cranked up the iron’s dial one too many times.
Be kinder to your clothes – and keep them wrinkle-free – by investing in a steamer. It’s like leaving your clothes hanging on the back of the bathroom door while taking a hot shower, but far more effective, doesn’t require you to run said shower, and is gentler on your clothing than ironing.
PurSteam 850 Watt Fabric Steamer, available at Amazon, priced £25.99.
12. Rub Jewellery Up The Right Way
You don’t need P.Diddy’s diamond collection to start taking jewellery care seriously. Neglect your metallic accessories too long and they’ll need more than a quick once-over to restore them to their shimmering glory.
The best way to prevent your jewellery’s light going out is by giving it a regular spring clean. Simply wipe each piece with a soft cloth after wear to offset the build-up of skin oils, lotions and other grime. Diddy would approve.
13. Hang Them Out To Dry
Unless the shirt you’ve just washed is the only one you own, there really is no good reason for drying your clothes in a machine. Unsurprisingly, fresh from the rough and rumble of the washing cycle, the last thing your washed clothing wants is to spend 30 minutes or more getting hurled around in hot heat.
Where possible, hang your clothes and leave to dry naturally to ensure that they’re not over-dried (and, as a result, shrunk or damaged). Need to expedite the process? Try hanging your whites and lighter colours on a line outside, but remember to always dry darker clothes indoors to avoid them fading fast.
14. Turn Inside Out
Turning your clothes inside out when washing is a stupidly simple way of preserving the life of your wardrobe, so there’s no excuse for swerving this step when waging the war on dirt.
While you won’t see much benefit from turning your socks and underwear inside out (ain’t nobody got time for that), turning jeans, jumpers and shirts inside out ensures wear from washing hits the (normally not visible) inside of the garment. Which means less pilling on the outside of your jumpers and jeans that retain their colour.
15. Don’t Soften Your Sportswear
Sophisticated sweat-wicking gym kit plays an increasingly big role in our quest for the body beautiful. Which makes a lot of sense because nobody wants to endure perspiring in public more than is absolutely necessary.
While regular trips to the washing machine are – for those of us making good on those resolutions – unavoidable, fabric softener most definitely is. As well as softening fibres, reducing static and adding a light and pleasant fragrance to your clothes, fabric softener works by leaving behind a coating on their surface. And although this coating doesn’t pose problems for most of your clobber, it causes gymwear’s techier features like moisture-wicking, stain-resistance and breathability to go haywire.
Condition your body, not your clothes.
Have any of these tips helped keep your clothing fighting fit? Or maybe you have some other clothes-saving tricks you’d care to share?
Let us know below.