Making Clothes Last

August 19, 2013

As the Editor-in-Chief of a Beauty and Fashion magazine, I recognize that clothes make the person. They have the ability to give your a confidence that you normally wouldn’t have. And let’s face it your wardrobe is a major investment. You spent time, energy and hard-earned money to select just the right pieces. You’ve got your favorites, but you like everything in your closet. Protect your investment by following these tips on making clothes last.


Proper Fit and Not Tossing Prematurely

We’ve all had those articles of clothes that we toss because they just don’t look right on us or they rip because they were too small for our frame. When buying jeans, keep in mind that the sizes truly fluctuate from brand to brand, so don’t feel committed to what you think “your size is” when, in actually, you should be wearing a larger pair of that particular make. Additionally, steer clear of any sort of “distressed” design, as this obviously makes them more susceptible to tearing. Another common culprit of turning on us is our footwear; buy your shoes at night when your foot is the largest, as this part of our body swells throughout the day. If you find that a pair of shoes are uncomfortable after a few hours of wearing them, don’t be so quick to toss them. For instance, you can place a bag of water in your shoes and place them in the freezer, allowing the amplified shape to stretch the fit. Often, we’ll wear a shoe to the point where it is rundown. If this is the case, go to a talented shoe repairmen or do at-home steps like get a rubber heel cap to protect the tip of the heel. If the inside of the sole is ripped, it’s easy to switch it; Naot at Footwear Etc. provides replacement footbeds that even provide essential arch support to make the pair perhaps even more comfortable than before.


There are everyday activities you can do as well to routinely breathe life into your favorite outfits.

taking care of clothes



•Reading the labels on your clothes could be the easiest way to make your clothes last longer. Those directions are there for a reason.

•Sort your dirty clothes. Sure, you sort into whites, gentle and darks; take it a step farther. Separate your loads by type of garment. Your heavy jeans could wreak havoc on your favorite dress shirt and the zipper on your hoodie could snag your favorite tee shirt. Wash denim with sturdier items such as sweatshirts and wash tee shirts with less sturdy articles such as dress shirts.

•Zip your zippers and unbutton your buttons. Unzipped zippers can cause snagging. Buttons that are done up can cause stress on the button and the buttonhole.

•Turn your clothes inside out for washing and for ironing. This will prevent pilling, keep your tee’s graphic vibrant and keep the color in your jeans and dress shirts.

•Use cold water. Most detergents are designed to work in all temperatures and you’ll save a lot of wear and tear on your fabrics – not to mention prevent shrinking – if you wash all your loads in cold water. It’s easier on the environment and on your clothing.

•Line dry. If you don’t have a clothesline, use a drying rack or hangers. Skipping the dry cycle not only saves energy, it saves your clothes.

•Don’t wash it if it’s not dirty. Unless visibly dirty, only wash your jeans after every 3-4 wears. Sweatshirts worn over tee shirts can be worn more than once. Pajamas probably don’t need washed after every wear.



Do your favorite pieces get worn every week while other items hang in the back of your closet? Understandably, more wear equals more wear. A great method of rotating clothes is to add newly cleaned items to the back of the closet and choose your outfit from the front. An alternative is to make sure all of your hangers face the same direction. Once you wear and wash something, put the hanger around the back of the rod. Then, when all of the hangers are around the back of the rod, start at the front again.



The most important thing to remember when storing clothing is that insects will find any oil, dirt or food residue left on clothes.  Make sure your clothes are clean before storing. Choose a cool, dark place for storing your off-season clothing. Sunlight and extreme temperatures can cause fading and can destroy the fibers of fabric. Skip the dry cleaner plastic. The plastic doesn’t breathe and traps moisture, which can lead to mildew, odors and color changes. Instead, use cotton sheets or canvas garment bags, found at Casa.


Extra Tips

• Resist the impulse to spritz perfume or hairspray after you’re dressed. The alcohol in these liquids can stain or take the color out of fabric.

• Remember to take all pieces of a set to the dry cleaner every time. Even though the jacket might not need cleaning, extra wear could cause the pants to fade and you’d be left with a mismatched set.

•For an inexpensive fabric softener, try adding ½ – ¾ cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle. Don’t worry – it leaves no residue or scent.

•To bring back the color for your favorite black sweater or little black dress, try adding a cup of strong coffee or tea to the rinse cycle. It provides a great pick-me-up for your faded black garments.

•Wash undergarments in a pillow case to prevent tearing of lace or delicate fabrics, and to prevent straps from stretching.

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  • Rita P @ Digital Spikes August 19, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Very good tips, yeah turning clothes and washing is very important. My hubby never use to do that until we started staying together. I was not aware to add cup of coffee or tea to get black color shine. Thanks for all the tips

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:19 am

      You’re welcome. It’s the little things!

  • Mark Ross August 19, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Great tips! Those can really make my clothes last and save us a lot of money when it comes to our clothing expenses. Thanks!

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:20 am

      Knowing the right cycle helps a ton with water consumption, too!

  • Michelle August 19, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I’m not good with taking good care of my clothing. I usually just throw everything into the washer and dryer and watch everything slowly get worse and worse. I need to do better with this!

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:20 am

      Yeah you do 😉 esp if you spend a ton on clothes.

  • Todd @ Fearless Men August 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    This is really helpful stuff as a man. I’d love to see more on repairing favorite shoes / finding a good cobbler at the right price.

    Your thoughts on rotation within the closet are great–and I have NEVER heard of putting coffee/tea into the wash with something dark to bring it back!

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:21 am

      Great idea for a post! Will start working on that!

  • Sean @ One Smart Dollar August 19, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I am the king of making my clothes last. I don;t go shopping very often so I don’t have a problem spending money for nice clothes (i’m talking J.Crew not Armani). I find that they wear much better over the long term.

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:22 am

      Sometimes J Crew has better quality clothes than Armani does, sometimes they are made in the same factory, BUT good for you!

  • Debt and the Girl August 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Very good tips! I don’t like to buy clothes too often but I am always interested in finding ways to save them. I guess I am a frugal girl at heart.

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:22 am

      Yes you are 😉

  • Funny about Money August 20, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Wow! This is really a good post. Some of these are things I’ve never thought of…and i thot i’d been around the block a few times…

    In the line-dry department, some knits will stretch if you hang them up wet. Unless it’s an old T-shirt I use only for sleeping, I usually lay knit shirts out flat, either on the bottom of the shower stall or on a tile floor. This lets you pat them back into shape, and they seem to last longer. Dryers seem to really be hard on clothing. Also about line-drying: give each item a sharp shake — really snap it a couple of times — before hanging and it’ll come off the line soft, without that line-dried cardboard effect.

    Another low-cost substitute for clothes softener is hair conditioner: One part conditioner to ten parts water — put it in a lidded container and shake well. You can squirt a little (I mix it in a well-washed kitchen detergent bottle with a squirt nozzle) on an old, dampened washcloth and toss it in the dryer, or you can squirt a quarter-cup or so into the washer. If you overdo it, of course it will leave the scent of the hair conditioner…but I find that a lot less obnoxious than commercial fabric softener.

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:24 am

      Those are great tips. Thank you. I’m going to try the conditioner trip next time I’m out of BOUNCE.

  • Skint in the City August 21, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Great tips thanks Marisa! With shoes I also pain the heels with clear nail varnish – it doesn’t show and it forms a protective barrier to stop them from scuffing.

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:08 am

      Great idea!

  • Tushar @ Everything Finance August 22, 2013 at 12:17 am

    I’m pretty meticulous with my clothes. I believe in buying good quality items and then ensuring that they are taken care of. It’s important to look AND feel good in your clothes.

    • Marissa August 22, 2013 at 12:24 am

      It’s because you’re fancy, friend.

  • Christopher @ This that and the MBA August 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I dont do the laundry but I will certainly share these tips with my wife. I wonder what in the coffee wakes up those faded colors…maybe the same thing that wakes up a sluggish me? Do they smell like coffee when they are done. I have colored shirts that tend to fade after a few washes, then they do not look new anymore. You think coffee would work on those as well?

    • Marissa August 26, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      I won’t try coffee on white shirts 😉

      But no, they don’t smell coffee afterwards.

  • Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa August 25, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I’ve heard that dry cleaning too often can cause unnecessary wear. How many uses are best between trips to the dry cleaners?

    • Marissa August 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      It really depends. I normally take coats/outwear once a year.