How To Make Your Wardrobe Last

Even if we are swimming in money, most of us like to make our favorite wardrobe pieces last. I mean what if Fluevog stops making that shoe, or the GAP stops making cotton tees? (we’re safe there). And it’s good for the environment as well as our wallets to prolong the lives of our clothes.

Here are some ways I “baby” my clothes/shoes, and I would love to know yours:

  • Iron as little as possible. No, not only because I am a lazy toadstool. Ironing can be hazardous to certain fabrics, wreaks havoc on embellishments, and has been known to burn a shirt here and there. I usually just shake while damp, smooth with my hands and/or do a quick fluff in the dryer to eliminate wrinkles. For serious stuff, I use a steamer (no bulky board required).
  • Get my favorite shoes and boots re-soled before it’s too late. This takes just a quick trip to the shoe shop inside the Mall, and costs about $12. It rescues my favorite footwear and extends the life dramatically.
These cannot be saved. But look at that sweet face! Source
  • Wash jeans inside out and dry them in the machine for only about ten minutes. This helps retain the color and prevents fabric wear and tear. Oh, and I can stretch them while they’re damp just so they fit, um, more comfortably.ย  ☺
  • Practice prevention on white shirts by spritzing underarms with white vinegar before washing. I spray on undiluted white vinegar and wait about ten minutes before tossing the shirt in with the rest of the light clothing. Works a charm at preventing yellowing.
Keep it whiter than white. Source.
  • Window cleaner (just a little squirt on a clean cloth) works wonderfully on patent leather shoes and bags. It gives them that like-new shine.
Keep it bright and shiny with a little spritz. Source.

Any techniques to share, to help us stretch that valuable wardrobe?


Visible Monday is on its “off” week this coming weekend, so we can recharge our creativity. ☺ We’ll be back on Monday, September 23rd (actually, the Sunday evening

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  1. Great tips!

    To baby my clothes and shoes, I:

    -Wash everything on delicate, in cold water, and let it air-dry
    -Pop lined dresses, lace pieces, bras, and cotton sweaters into delicates bags before throwing it in the machine
    -Handwash cashmere
    -Get a rubber sole put on leather-soled shoes before the first time I wear them

  2. My stepmother taught me a thrifty alternative – use a liter size soda bottle – for most knee boots, it's about the right size!

  3. supposedly washing a white shirt as soon as possible also helps prevent the underarm yellowing. I guess the yellowing happens over time as the shirt sits in the laundry basket and reacts to perspiration. And, someone told me once that items like jeans/pants/slacks don't really need to be washed every time you wear them. Depending of course on how dirty you may actually get them! And, as you mentioned, turning them inside out before washing helps prevent a lot of wear.

  4. I love the vinegar tip as well! Sometimes when I see a shirt that has yellowed and I may not have caught it, I use a tablet for the dishwasher. This works really well on white stuff with yellow underarms. I wet the dishwasher tablet, rub it on the stain so that it kind of breaks apart (work it into the fabric), then let it sit for about 30 minutes to an hour before washing. Ta-Daa!

  5. I use Zout. I think it works a lot better than Spray n Wash. It will take out old yellow stains on antique tablecloths. I haven't found much it can't handle.
    No one has mentioned Fray Check on here yet. It's a little bottle of clear stuff that looks and smells similar to nail polish. You find it in the sewing aisle. I use it all the time to prevent snags or tears from spreading. Especially in odd places like a small weak point at the dart seam or neckline seam that you know will spread and fray out the next time you wash it. Put on plenty of Fray Check and let it dry before you wash the garment. Then, if you want, you can put in a few hand stitches with a carefully matched color of thread to keep things even more secure. This works in places where it would look silly if you folded or pulled the garment in on itself. Once the fray check has secured what's left of the original weave of the fabric – I take a needle and thread and do a bit of weaving myself staying just under the outer surface of the fabric. It seems to work. And of course, with sweaters, it's impossible to find the weak spot afterwards.

  6. Thanks for the white vinegar tip; I use it for pet stains but had forgotten about yellowing! Me? I hand wash a lot of my clothes; not much dry cleaning. xoxo

  7. Sounds like many of us will be putting a spray bottle of vinegar in the laundry room soon! I hadn't heard the tip about window cleaner, but I'll be trying it for sure, especially on my husband's white dress shirts. Like Sheila, I try not to wash items too frequently, particularly sweaters because they tend to never look the same even when I baby them.

  8. I often use these measures on my family's clothes and those I pick up for a song at thrift:

    For oily food stains, try straight or lightly diluted original Dawn dish liquid; let sit 20 minutes before washing.
    For dark grease marks, I spray with WD-40 (outside) and blot well with something under the fabric so it doesn't go through; let sit about 15 minutes; then squirt with straight Dawn, let sit another 20 minutes, and wash on warmest setting recommended.
    For yellow underarm satins, I use a mix of 1 part Dawn and 2 parts
    hydrogen peroxide. I keep it in a spray bottle, and it works
    wonderfully! Let sit about 10 minutes before washing.
    The peroxide mix also works great on stains of unknown origin.
    For hand washable silks (like scarves) I use a squirt of Dawn in cold water.
    I always wash jeans with other jeans or navy clothes, inside out, and hang to dry.
    Instead of laying things flat to dry, I often will hang them on Huggable-type hangers and make sure a cardigan button placket is pulled flat.

    Just my $.02 worth. HTH.

  9. All these comments show how much we love our clothes! Patti, the vinegar tip sounds great, thank you. I wash all trousers inside out, use nets for ok-to-machine-wash-but-delicates, handwash my jumpers minimally and get my shoes resoled regularly. Tops I dry after washing on hangers so ironing is minimal. I am sure it makes my stuff last longer. Like Sheila and Curtise, I am a fan of airing clothes after wearing when they are clerty – clean rather than dirty. Usually a day's airing means they don't need washing.

  10. Good tips! It seems I need to get me some of that white vinegar. What I'd like to know is how to get marks off patent shoes – the plastic heel bit swipes past the patent and permenantly marks it with a smear of the plastic.

  11. If you haven't been runnin' sweaty, wear your jeans or skirts for a few times. I know I spend most days in air-conditioning or some days just sitting at home. I'll wear my jeans or pants several times between washes because they just don't really get dirty. Other than that, I don't do anything too special. I'm too lazy for clothes that require too much fuss.

  12. I am usually fairly lackadaisical and just bung everything in the washing machine and hope for the best… But like Jan, I also use De-solv-it for grease marks, hand wash really delicate precious things, we don't have a tumble drier so that isn't an issue, and I try to sew loose buttons on, fix hems/seams, etc, before they get too bad. I agree with Sheila about not over-washing clothes, you really don't need to. And yes, using a decent cobbler extends the life of favourite boots and shoes, and is worth the outlay.
    Aren't we a domesticated bunch? Or do we just really love our clothes?! xxxxx

  13. There is this wonderful stuff, called De-Solv-it … it is difficult to find, but it is amazing. At the restaurant, Dan gets grease stains on everything, all the time. Really, this stuff will work on the nastiest stains and I've used it on many of my more delicate fabrics with complete success. It's called a "contractors solvent" and you can get it from hardware stores like ACE and True Value. I see it has a website for UK, as well.
    It looks like it might be too harsh, but I've saved garments that otherwise would have been ruined. Can't recommend it highly enough.
    Will try white vinegar immediately … I keep squirt guns loaded with diluted white vinegar to shoot at the cats when they get too interested in the bird-cage!

  14. I try not to wash items too frequently if they don't really need it – that might gross out some people, but a little airing can freshen up a jacket (and save on drycleaning), and spot washing can save having to wash an entire garment. That doesn't apply to underwear, of course!!

    Patti, for your oil spill on your olive top (you mentioned in a comment), pack some cornstarch on it to pull out the oil. Let it sit, gently rinse off with warm water, repeat as needed. I am rather spilly and this works on a lot of items!

  15. Oh, such good reminders. I try to remember to turn any dark clothes or pieces embellishments inside out when washing, but I'm not very consistent. And I also try to avoid ironing and over-drying. Some things I just fluff and hang. I have loads of black shoes and boots, and give them a polish about once a year, and wipe them off more often if necessary.

    I need to try your vinegar trick for some white shirts – that's a good one!

  16. Great post Patti! My mother's tip was not to tumble dry clothes too often as they had the effect of wearing fabrics out faster. Also very true a stitch in time saves nine. Split seams can turn into tears if they're not addressed quickly.

  17. I hand wash some of the more delicate pieces, particularly the vintage finds.

  18. I'm going to have to try that white vinegar trick .. Spray and Wash sure doesn't help.

    I'm only careful with items of clothing that I love .. other stuff, I just throw it into the wash and hope for the best ๐Ÿ˜‰


  19. Some good tips here! I guess I don't do anything special to prolong most of my clothes, though I do try to wash/dry some of them as little as possible as the dryer can be very damaging.

  20. I learned some new things here today. I loathe ironing and now I have a reason not to!
    I try to hang dry pretty much everything I wash to save the dye and keep my clothes from fading. I also don't dry clean anything until I absolutely must.

  21. Love the white shirt/vinegar tip! I have had to toss many white shirts because of those darn yellow stains-yuck. But no more -thanks to you:) You are going to save me lots of money, thanks for the great tip.

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