The Importance of Wardrobe Maintenance, Part 2

Wanna know how to keep your stuff clean? Head back for part 1 of this two-part series. Below are some tips for keeping your stuff pristine! Or, if not pristine, at least in wearable condition for a good, long time.

1. An organized closet
If you’re wondering why your shoes are getting scuffed and torn, consider how you’re storing them. Are they in a giant heap at closet-bottom, or neatly arranged in racks or boxes? If you’re wondering why those shirts that just returned from the cleaners are already rumpled, consider how you’re storing them. Are they hanging loosely in a spare, clean closet, or jammed in with a thousand other shirts that haven’t been worn since 1998? If you’re wondering why your jewelry is in a tumbleweed-sized knot … OK, you get the picture. An organized closet is key to keeping your wardrobe in wearable shape.

2. Shoe polish and repair
Shoe polish can be dangerous, I know. Unless you’re dealing with deepest black leather, you run the risk of accidentally staining your caramel-colored boots chocolate brown. (Did that myself once. Bah.) On the other hand, scuffed shoes never look their best. If you’ve got a beloved pair that look as if you’ve been jogging through the thistle fields in them, and they are a polishable color, learn how to buff and shine. Or if polish is too severe, try touch-ups with an oil sponge.

Be sure to locate a reliable shoe repair shop, too. Most buckle and heel problems can be fixed, and many leather woes as well. Don’t ditch well-loved shoes until you’re positive that they are unsalvageable.

3. Pressing
I will admit to being useless at pressing my clothes. I mean, not only do I hate doing it, but pieces somehow appear MORE wrinkled after I’ve had a go with the iron. Still, most spandex-free cloth, linen, and items with exposed seams require pressing, lest they appear to have been stored in fist-sized wads on your closet floor. Learn to press, or pony up and let a pro do the work. (Steamers can be a big help for knits and all but the stiffest of wovens.)

4. Cedar
Do you hate the smell of mothballs? If you said “no,” you are what scientists refer to as “a weirdo.” Cedar blocks aren’t quite as effective at combating those lightbulb-loving, cashmere-consuming insects, but they definitely help. And they make your sweaters smell like the woods instead of a chemical refinery.

5. A good tailor
Most normal humans experience weight fluctuation. Seasonal ups and downs dictate that our winter wardrobes be a little more forgiving than our summer ones. But pregnancies, lifestyle and locale/climate changes, surgeries, and other more lasting body-shapers may cause once-beloved duds to inch toward the giveaway pile. Instead, consider befriending your local tailor. Most garments can be shortened, lengthened, loosened, tightened, or otherwise adjusted to fit your fabulous bod. If you love something, don’t be too hasty about setting it free. Consult your friendly neighborhood tailor first.

So, ya know, no big surprises in either of these lists. But it never hurts to remind yourself of the many simple ways to make your wardrobe last. If you invest upfront to procure pieces you love and need, you should also be investing continually – more in time and energy than hard cash – to make sure those pieces endure. Otherwise, you’re just creating a cyclically disposable wardrobe. For wardrobe staples, absolute faves, and investment pieces, invest in maintenance. You’ll find it’s time well spent!

(Shoe polish image courtesy, cedar hearts image courtesy

Originally posted 2008-07-08 07:50:00.

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6 Responses to “The Importance of Wardrobe Maintenance, Part 2”

  1. enc

    Reminders are always helpful. I think we all know all this stuff, but how many of us really DO it all? Nice job, Sal.

  2. fleur_delicious

    also, learn to darn (socks, sweaters, etc.)! It’s not a perfect fix, but anyone can mend up a small hole before it becomes a big one, top it off with a little fray check from the craft/fabric store, and those items will last a lot longer!

    I have a small woven box with a linen liner from Pottery Barn that sits in a corner of the living room by the couch or a chair. I toss all the clothes in need of minor mending in there (mostly sweaters with holes or pants with fallen hems) and periodically empty it as it fills (note: small box; that way it’s never more than a few items). You never know how often you’ll find yourself just hanging out on the couch, bored, of an evening.

  3. Sal

    You’re my hero, fleur_delicious. I’ll admit to omitting darning for the simple fact that I have ruined several garments in my attempts to mend them! I envy your skillz, but will leave those tasks to the pros, myself.

  4. Sharon Rose

    Hi sal-this is a great post and I love your blog too!! I totally endorse looking after your clothes, as I love vintage, its important for me to make sure these items are well cared for-I must invest in some cedar blocks, thanks for the reminder!!

  5. Budget Babe

    excellent advice.

    I take my shoes to the cobbler to be re-heeled for $5. you don’t have to be an expert, just point at your shoe, make a sour face, and they’ll know exactly what to do!

  6. In Yr Fshn

    Fleur’s comment made me laugh–not because darning isn’t important, it really is. Because when I first met the BF, he though darning was when you rolled up you socks in a ball (you know, after doing laundry?)
    I still make fun of him.

    Ah, a good tailor is my dream! I can never find one.