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!