In today’s world of fast-fashion, it’s become easy to neglect just how much of a difference it makes when you look after clothing items instead of replacing them. I don’t simply mean being careful to avoid stains or wearing clothes infrequently to reduce wear and tear, I mean regular maintenance. Think of your clothes as you would a car. You buy a car with the intent to drive it as much as you need to, but you don’t want it to get damaged as you do to. To get the most mileage out of it, you need to service it from time to time to keep your drives fresh and enjoyable.
Up until the mid-20th century, there was a very large culture of self-sufficiency and sustainability when it came to clothes. Clothes were passed down between generations and mended if they were damaged, as they were seen as more of a long term and practical investment. Even amongst the wealthy and the upper class in society, this attitude of sustaining what you wore was prevalent,; until mass production and developments in technology allowed clothing to be produced at a higher rate and at much cheaper prices.
Just like you would take your car to a garage, your clothes, shoes and accessories could and should be taken to a tailor, a cobbler, a watch smith or jeweller. For example going to a cobbler to replace the worn heels on a pair of shoes you very much like, or to a watch smith to buy a new strap for your watch, or a tailor to mend and readjust your something you wear to make it fit better. You would be surprised how much of a difference it makes, and it can leave you feeling like you’ve purchased something new, with the added gratification of getting it for a fraction of the cost.
Even if those services are inaccessible there are still many things that can be done to maintain what you wear:
- Follow the cleaning instructions: This is perhaps the easiest way to look after clothes. Especially for certain garments like knitted cardigans and jumpers which have a tendency to shrink.
- Learn about the materials.
- Store properly: Another easy way to look after clothes is to store them properly. Ideally ironed and hung or folded away. This will help the garment retain its original structure and keep it looking fresh and less worn for longer.
- Cleaning and polishing: This goes without saying but a good polishing makes a significant difference to how any pair of leather shoes look.
All you need is a cloth, appropriately coloured polish and a brush to apply. For trainers and other shoes made from canvas material all you need is to give them a thorough scrub with a shoe brush. It helps to have a good shoe spray, however, if you don’t have one hair conditioner is an excellent alternative. Similarly for suede a good scrubbing with a shoe brush helps, however, a more delicate hand is advised. They are finished off with a good coating from a shoe protector.
- Shoe Horns and shoe trees: A good day’s wear will inevitably make the upper more supple and when left without the structure of the foot to support it the shoes to lose their shape over time. Shoetrees simply help shoes retain their shape for much longer. And using a shoe horn when you slip a tight fitting pair of shoes on prevents the heel from becoming creased and deform, once again helping the shoe retain its original shape for much longer.
Watches and Other Accessories
- Store properly: Invest in a watchcase or display stand. It’s a nice way to safely keep watches and it’s far more flattering if your intention is to show them off.
If you have additional room in the display case it can also double up as storage for necklaces, rings, bracelets and other tiny bits that have a tendency to go missing easily. Otherwise you can buy a trinket or just any small box to keep them in. Preferably one with partitions so things can be kept separately, which makes them easier to find and prevents them from getting tangled.
It’s easy and tempting to buy something else but it’s sometimes better to spend that money on things to keep the clothes you currently have in top shape.
By: Michael Obire
Guest writer (United Kingdom)
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