I have a fun style assignment for you later on in this post. But first, let’s talk about clothing care. I know – it’s not very sexy or fun. But it’s important, probably more important than you might realize when it comes to preserving your clothes and keeping them looking the way you want.
Clothing preservation begins with laundering (I know, pretty exciting). Washing your favorite pieces so that they stay looking new requires a little more thought than just tossing all your lights or darks together and washing them all on the same setting. Here’s what I do to get the most life out of the things I love.
- Separate your special clothing items from the “normal” laundry (for example, underwear, pajamas, kids’ and husbands’ clothes, linens).
- Separate colors: I group colors by darks, lights, and whites; sometimes I also separate reds and dark pinks from the dark group, especially if the red items are newer and color transfer is a possibility.
- Delicate pieces: Once your colors are separated, group more delicate items (blouses, lingerie, skirts, yoga pants, and tops) together to wash apart from heavier items (jeans, jackets) as sometimes heavier clothing items can twist among and stretch more delicate things. Use lingerie bags (mesh, zipper bags) for particularly delicate items.
- Turn clothing inside out for two reasons: First, washing clothes inside out helps to preserve the color by preventing color fading. Second, by keeping the outside in, clothing is protected from the friction of the machine itself and from the clothes rubbing against each other on the side that will show when you wear them.
- Washing machine settings: I wash almost everything I own on the delicate cold water cycle and the low spin setting.
- Don’t overload! If you put too much into your washer, you run the risk of clothes twisting together, which can stretch some fabrics. Also the weight of a heavy load can create pronounced and sometimes permanent creases that cause faded lines in your clothes, particularly denim.
- When the wash cycle is complete, remove your clothes as soon as possible. The longer they sit wet in the washer, the more opportunity they have to mildew. If this does happen, sometimes a repeat wash cycle will take care of it. If not, soak the mildew smelling items in a tub or sink of white vinegar and water, which pretty much always dissipates the smell.
- You probably already know this: Dryers are the enemy of your special clothes! Dryers will fade and age clothing fast. And when you’ve spent your hard-earned dollars on clothes you love, I know you want to have them last and look great for as long as possible. I know I do!
- Air drying is the best way to preserve your clothes. But there are two drawbacks: One, it can take a long time, especially with heavier items and also if the weather is cold or damp. Two, heavy fabrics, particularly denim, can feel stiff after air drying.
- Solution to air drying: I use this trick – put items in the dryer (I usually separate the heavier items from the delicate items and don’t put them together in the dryer) and set the dryer on a low heat. Toss the load for 5-10 minutes. Immediately remove items, turn them right side out, and put them on hangers (be sure the hangers you are using for tops have curved shoulders so you don’t end up with points in the shoulders after your tops are dry). Using a very low heat preserves the color of your clothes and the short time in the dryer takes quite a bit of moisture out and prevents your clothes from drying with a stiff texture.
- If you need a place to hang clothes while they dry, make a small investment in a collapsible drying rack.
- There are a few items that I never put in the dryer as I believe the fabric won’t respond well to any heat at all and also because the air doesn’t cause them to dry stiffly: exercise wear and camisoles.
One other tip. If your white garments seem to need a little brightening, the sun is a great bleaching agent. Drying outside in the bright sun has brightened a number of my white things in the past.
This is the method I use for everything I wear except underwear and socks (although I do wash my undies and bras in lingerie bags and hang to dry on a small hanging rack). Everything else is washed with the above method. I even wash my husband’s designer jeans and dark colored polos this way so they’ll last a long time.
Giving your clothes some TLC will definitely give them a longer life and will keep them looking almost new for a long time.
Borrow a stylist (from your favorite celebrity)
And now the fun part!
One way to perk up your style is to copy a look from a celebrity or even a magazine model or style suggestion. Finding celebrity looks is pretty easy – just Google your favorites, find a look that you like, and copy! Here are a few celebrity styles I’d like to duplicate. To find them, I searched for: Jessica Alba outfits, Jennifer Aniston style, colored denim looks, and animal print shoe style.
Another tool I use for styling ideas is Pinterest. You probably already know the unlimited ideas that are available there. I have a couple of pairs of shoes that I love (pictured below) but have been a little unsure about the best way to style them. I searched Pinterest and found some great ideas.
Next week I’ll include some photos of my copycat celebrity styles and my interpretation of the ideas I found on Pinterest for my shoes. The photos will use things I already have in my closet. Why don’t you try it too . . . it could be a good way to push yourself a little to try a bit of a different look or just mix some of your wardrobe pieces in a way you hadn’t considered before. Have fun!