How To, Wardrobe

Taking Care of Your Clothes (So They Take Care of You!)

I have been lucky enough to have inherited many clothes from my mother, grandmother, and other extraordinary women in my life. Many of these items are of much higher quality than garments produced today, and they’ll easily see me through the rest of my lifetime–if they’re properly cared for.

In today’s world of planned obsolescence, everything has a lifetime, and it’s generally much shorter than yours. (Yes, this is a pet topic of mine.) But by taking care of your things, they’ll continue to take care of you for a long time. For instance, one of my favorite pair of shoes–the pink needlepoint slippers shown in this post’s picture–is as old as I am. They belonged to my grandmother, and they have seen a lot of wear. She, and I, have taken good care of them, and I look forward to wearing them for many years to come.

Taking care of your clothes is far simpler than it might seem. Here’s how I keep my belongings in good condition.

Shoes: I feel as though it’s a common to buy a new pair of shoes to replace a pair with worn soles instead of taking them to a cobbler. If you have a great cobbler, that’s wonderful–if not, you can mail your shoes to Leather Spa and let them know what you need. They’ve fixed everything for me (except one pair that was too far gone, but that was my fault, not theirs!) I highly recommend them. Their prices can get a bit steep, but it’s still far less than purchasing a new pair of shoes, and their workmanship is excellent.

Sweaters: The thing I dread the most is moth holes in my sweaters (this has, unfortunately, happened to several cherished sweaters during a moth outbreak in the house where I lived in DC.) Now, it’s not the end of the world, fortunately. Reweaving is a way to resurrect your favorite sweater, although it’s incredibly pricey. To prevent moth holes, I like to use the Laundress’s wool & cashmere spray. It has a lovely scent and helps freshen your sweaters between wearing.

If the holes have arisen more naturally–such as wearing through the elbows of your sweater–patches are a nice solution. I feel as though the leather elbow patch is too overdone now, but a velvet in a slightly darker shade would look very unique and elegant.

Silk clothing: Dry clean, dry clean, dry clean!! Hang carefully out of the sunlight, store them properly, and do NOT use a bleach pen or rub at it if you get something on the silk. Just take it to the dry cleaner’s immediately!

ETA (February 8th, 2022): KH in the comments below, and the comments on this fabulous Ivy Style post, have provided alternative cleaning methods for silk that aren’t the dry cleaner. I haven’t yet tried them, but will and will report back!

Wool clothing: As mentioned above, I love the Laundress’s wool & cashmere spray. Store your wool clothing with lavender sachets, in a cedar closet (if you’re lucky enough to have a cedar closet!), or with cedar balls or rings to prevent insect damage.

Suede: I treat all my suede belongings with Scotch-Guard before use, to prevent water damage. Obviously I wouldn’t wear suede shoes on a day when it rains, or if there’s salt on the ground, but it’s a good practice in case you’re stuck!

Satin: I love my satin evening slippers, and they require extra-special care. Be sure to store them in shoe bags or in shoe boxes, with acid-free tissue paper in the toes in between use. It’s important not to put any weight or pressure on top of them when stored or when they are in transit–the fabric is very delicate. Use a slightly damp cloth to wipe away any spills, if you feel comfortable doing so; if you don’t, take them to your cobbler.

Leather: Regularly condition your leather, especially if you live in a dry climate, but applying leather conditioner with a soft brush or cloth. Polishing your leather shoes after use is also important! Sid Mashburn has a great shoe-care section at their shop, and this can be used for treating other leather accessories, like leather belts, wallets, or handbags.

Your Barbour: I’ve written about rewaxing your Barbour here!

I hope you’ve found this post helpful! Let me know if I’m missing anything!

9 thoughts on “Taking Care of Your Clothes (So They Take Care of You!)

  1. I love checking in here in the mornings and finding a new blog. This one is especially needed!

    Thanks for all the tips, especially Leather Spa. I have a few pairs of Stubbs which need re-soling but I don’t have a cobbler I trust enough to do it.

    Love the tip on velvet elbow patches, too. Very clever and more elegant than leather patches!

    1. Yay, I’m so glad! I really like Leather Spa. They’ve resoled all my Stubbs and did a great job, so I would recommend them 🙂 Let me know if you do decide to get your sweater with velvet elbow patches–I’d love to see!

  2. Great reminders! Question for you and readers: do you prefer a sweater comb or a battery powered sweater shaver for cashmere maintenance? I recently purchased The Laundress’ sweater comb (no plastic and no batteries needed). I’m not sure I’m a fan; my results have been lack-luster. It’s possible I’m being too gentle with it, but I’d really hate to ruin any of my sweaters. Any recommendations?

    1. That’s a tough one! For really delicate sweaters (especially cableknit sweaters), I think a sweater comb is the way to go. Otherwise I use the Remington fabric shaver and that’s worked really well for me! Just practice first before you use it on a sweater 🙂

  3. For the question above, always a sweater comb for cashmere or other delicate sweaters. Heavier cottons are safe with the shaver.

    I actually hand wash my silk items in Delicate wash from the Laundress, then iron on very low setting. I even launder my Hermès scarves this way. Much cheaper and more environmentally friendly!

  4. For sweaters, and even furniture, I swear by the Gleener Fabric Shaver & Lint Brush. I use on my velvet headboard, to get pills out of sofas and carpets, and on all of my sweaters. It is wonderful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *