5 ways to keep your garments looking good
These 5 tips will keep your garments looking clean, fresh, wrinkle free and in fashion. Follow this advice and you'll be in-style and looking good all year round.
Visualise your hanging space as a costume department on a film set
1. Strip off the plastic bags
Never store your clothing in drycleaners’ plastic bags. Clothing needs to breathe, and the moisture that gets trapped inside these bags can cause mildew, which damages garments permanently. If you want to protect an item in storage, put it in a breathable cotton garment bag.
2. Store out-of-season clothes
Now that we all snatch up so many chain store ‘bargains’, our wardrobe rails are groaning with crammed-in garments. This is a problem, because clothes need room to hang freely if they are to emerge from the wardrobe fresh and wrinkle-free. But one key manoeuvre will free-up space – removing all the clothes that are not currently in season from your wardrobe. You could store your out-of-season clothes in an empty guest room or in a hall cupboard, or on a hanging rail in the laundry or utility room. Every spring and autumn, rotate the rails, bringing clothing for the new season back into your wardrobe.
If you rotate your clothes in this way every six months and your wardrobe is still jam-packed, try changing them around four times a year instead of two, so that you have only three months’ worth of clothes within easy access. It might also be a good idea to review your everyday clothing needs. If you wear casual clothes five days a week, you might not need to store smart suits and dresses in your main wardrobe. Perhaps keeping them with your out-of-season garments would be a better idea.
3. Buy less and get rid of more
Take your time reorganising your wardrobe – make sure you're making the best use of that precious space. And while you are doing it, don't buy anything new. That should give you enough of a gap to break your fashion-buying habit and help you to review the way you shop. As you rotate your clothing, examine every item. If a piece no longer fits – no matter how cute it is or what fond memories it might evoke – get rid of it. Do the same with any garment that makes you feel fat, frumpy or old. You can't afford to allow it to keep cluttering up your mind, your self-confidence and your home. Then think hard about your age and lifestyle. How many garments do you have that aren't really suitable any longer? Ask a friend for an honest opinion. Pull out everything that you haven't worn in the last year and off-load it – give it away, take it to a charity shop or simply throw it out. Or think about inviting some of your friends over for a clothes-swapping evening. Consider storing classic pieces that might come back into fashion or are good enough to pass on as heirlooms. Take any items that you can't bear to lose to a creative seamstress, who may be able to remake them into something that you can wear again, or alter clothes that don't fit as they are, but that can be refitted. Think of this ‘editing’ out of your wardrobe as an ongoing review that you will repeat season after season.
4. Section your wardrobe
‘Visualise your hanging space as a costume department on a film set,’ advises designer Pam Verran. Pre-iron every garment, hang them singly on good wooden hangers – no plastic or wire – and store in groups: trousers, skirts, strappy tops, dresses, jackets and so on. You might also find it helpful to arrange items by their colour. ‘It's like being an artist with all your pots of paint on view,’ says Verran, ‘ready to be thrown at the canvas.’ But the most important thing is to make sure you can see what you have clearly and that there is room to move the hangers along the rail to inspect a garment. This makes it easier to pick out matching outfits.
5. Learn what keeps moths at bay
Do you suspect that your precious knitwear has been infiltrated by moths? If you do, hand wash it in a gentle wool shampoo, allow it to dry, then stick it in the freezer for a couple of days. This will kill any moths – and their eggs – that are present in your clothes. Also, be aware that the insect-repellent powers of cedar wardrobes and chests are grossly overrated. A moth will run when it gets a strong whiff of cedar, but the pungent smell peters out after a year or two. Reviving the scent requires sanding the surface layer of wood. By the same token, if a drycleaner asks if you want to pay to moth-proof garments that are going into storage, say, ‘No’. This type of moth-proofing only lasts a month or two. A better way to store vulnerable wool and silk garments is to slide them into sealable moth-proof garment bags, available from some department stores and drycleaners. Or you can put them in an airtight container with a handful of cedar-wood cubes or lavender sachets that should be replaced when they lose their scent.
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