Why would you spend $600 on a suit that you can only wear once?
Why only once?
Well, you spilled an entire cocktail on it.
You washed it, but you didn’t realize that simply throwing it in the washing machine would cause all of the buttons to fall off and shrink it two sizes.
What’s the point of buying nice clothes if you don’t properly care for them? Without proper care and the ability to mend you might as well be buying from disposable companies. Learning how to take care of your clothing is a very important step to becoming fully independent and sharp-dressed.
How To Keep Your Clothing Clean
First thing’s first, let’s touch on the all-important, often misunderstood care labels. We’ve all seen them, but do you know what the symbols mean?
What are they for? And where can you find them?
The easiest way to know if something is going to destroy your clothing is to read the instructions. “Clothes come with instructions?” Yes, manufactured clothing is required to have a care label added somewhere inside of the garment.
This label tells you exactly how you should be caring for your clothing. If you have a piece that did not come with a care label (probably because it was tailor-made or vintage), it’s best just to have it dry cleaned. Play it safe.
If you machine-wash your clothing, there is a good chance that you have been over washing. Ever wonder why your clothing does not seem to last? The problem could be over washing.
People in the modern age tend to over wash their clothing. Every time that you wash and dry your clothes little bits of fabric come off, causing high friction areas (like armpits and groin areas) to wear out very quickly. Want to know just how much? Check the dryer filter after drying a load.
Sometimes simple methods of turning the garment inside out and spraying with a sanitizing spray, which you can make with a concoction of vodka water and some kind of scent like a fresh lavender sprig, will do the trick.
This trick is often used by wardrobe professionals for actors and actresses in between back to back shows. The sanitizing method takes out foul smells, sanitizes sweaty areas and conserves the integrity of clothing.
Pro tip: use this method in between trips to the dry cleaner to save yourself a little time and money.
Grossed out by the idea of not washing? Opt for the gentle cycle and hang dry your clothing – a great way to conserve the structural integrity of your denim. By the way, the most over washed garment in almost everyone’s closet is his or her denim. Stop washing your jeans every single time that you wear them, it is not necessary.
What about Pilling? An obvious and easily avoidable mistake. All because you’ve washed your clothing with the wrong type of garments and created friction. This pesky phenomenon usually happens when you wash your towels with your t-shirts, but can also happen when you wash your sweaters with very intense opposite colors.
Say that you wash a yellow sweater with a black sweater, your yellow sweater is probably going to have a lot of black little balls on it – this is called Pilling.
Pilling can also occur when you have washed your clothes too many times and too intensely. Avoid this by paying attention to the care label, what you’re washing your clothes with, and washing too frequently.
Below is an quick and easy video on how to remove pilling from your garments.
Sometimes when wearing sweaters, pilling can happen when there’s too much friction during wear. This kind of pilling cannot be avoided. However, pilling is not the end of your garment’s life. There are small de-pilling machines that get rid of these pesky balls in one swipe, a simple purchase that can save you hundreds of dollars. Just be careful not to over use it, it does take out little pieces of fibers with each use.
Be mindful of your shirt collars, if you wash your shirts and decide that you do not have the willpower to iron out your own collars, maybe you should consider getting them professionally cleaned and pressed.
“But they’re just simple cotton shirts, no one will notice.” Everyone will notice. It is such a simple task that can make, or break your look.
It’s easy to do this yourself, but be sure that you know how to use the settings on the iron properly. Using improper settings on the iron, especially when you are ironing synthetic fabrics, like polyesters that have a plastic mix, can cause problems.
For example, if the heat is too high on a synthetic shirt, you could melt the entire collar. On the other hand, if the iron is not hot enough, the wrinkles will not come out. Silk, for example, is a textile that doesn’t like high heat under the iron, so be very mindful of your fiber contents and pay attention to those care labels.
Feeling nervous? Opt for the professionals and be sure to keep extra collar stays on hand.
Related: Check out this guide on How To Be More Sustainable With Clothes.
Simple Sewing Tips
There are a couple of tricks and easy mending skills that will be very helpful in your journey to becoming a well-dressed and independent man. Knowing what to do with loose buttons, hems that are not quite right and moth balls can save you tons of money and time.
The first and biggest thing is learning how to put on and repair buttons. How many garments have you donated because of a missing button? Or how many times have you had to make a special trip across town to have a button sewn back on?
Below is an easy to follow video that I found on how to repair a simple button on multiple garments.
Repairing a missing or loose button is a simple task that requires five minutes and a very, very basic skill set. You need 4 things: a needle, thread, scissors and patience. It might be helpful to pick up a basic sewing kit and keep it tucked in a drawer for emergencies – these often come with spare buttons (just in case yours has totally vanished).
A bit more advanced, but also important, is understanding hemming. Once you have completely mastered sewing on buttons, maybe take a stab at hemming your own pants.
Below is a helpful video on understanding hemming.
Hemming is a bit more involved, and to get a professional finish, could require a sewing machine. Even if owning your own machine and putting in a hem is of no interest to you, it is still very helpful to understand how it is done. A simple understanding of the process can be very helpful for calling in quotes and getting exactly what you want.
Appropriately named, darning is the process of repairing small holes in knits. If you are an avid wearer of wool, there is a good chance that you have had a few casualties due to moths and improper care. This is also a helpful repair for torn socks!
Below is a short and simple tutorial on darning and sweater repairs.
Darning is actually a pretty easy repair and should only take a few minutes of your time. That is, if the whole family of moths did not have a buffet down the side of your pants. Still repairable, but maybe not totally worth it.
Taking the time to read the labels on your clothes and learning these simple sewing skills can save you so much time and money in the long run. Do yourself the favor and get familiar.
And that wraps up this article on clothing care. You are now equipped with the knowledge to make your clothing last for the long haul.
Alyssa has a bachelor’s in Apparel Design and Textiles with 10+ years of experience working in the clothing industry. She is the proud owner of the online shop HomeSewn where they create upcycled, repurposed and vintage textiles. Beyond that, Alyssa is also an advocate for the natural white hair movement. You can find her on Instagram.
What’s your key takeaway from this article?
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