How to keep my clothing in tip top shape?
October 7, 2012 9:46 PM   Subscribe

My sweaters are pilled. My shoes are scuffed. My skirts have random threads coming out. My thin knit tops have pulls. My favourite shirt has a small salad dressing stain just to the left of my belly button. Your sweaters look new, your shoes look immaculate, you generally look pulled together. How do you do it?

So, i think dress pretty stylishly, and i buy decent quality clothing, mostly. I usually look pretty good. But i feel like i end up donating/giving away my clothing too frequently because they've just started looking old and raggedy. Often, this takes just a couple of years, and i personally think that if i'm going to spend $80 on a sweater, that i should get more than two winters out of it. But i don't. I'm really curious: how do you keep your clothing and shoes in good shape?

How often do you wash your clothing? How do you wash your clothing? What do you or do you not put in the dryer? Do you dry clean everything that can be dry cleaned? What do you do to your shoes to keep them nice? How do you store your clothes? How do you deal with repairs? When and why do you go to a professional? Do you have any amazing tools or products or storage items that really help?

Please help me get more value out of my clothes, and more class out of my outfits !
posted by Kololo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 145 users marked this as a favorite
I don't put my clothing in the dryer unless absolutely necessary, it makes a huge difference in the life span.

As far as shoes, I use a leather conditioner as the first step in taking care of my (and my husband's) dress shoes. Urad Tenderly is a great one that doesn't change the color of the leather, so I can use it on my lighter pumps.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 9:53 PM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Professional assistance.
- Shoes, belts and purses make regular trips to the cobbler for service.
- Clothing goes to the tailor to be correctly fit. You'll never stop an article from looking stretched out if it's constantly stretching to make the button reach the button hole.

Buy smarter.
- Consider any stretch fabric disposable. Stretch makes things look good for a short while, but then it yellows, gapes, droops in the butt.
- Buy clothing you're willing to care for correctly - hand wash? dry clean? iron? If you won't do it EVERY TIME then don't buy clothing which requires additional care.
posted by 26.2 at 10:13 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

I generally will wear something 2-3 times before washing (if I don't sweat in it or otherwise get it obviously dirty, I don't wash it). Sometimes I will hang something outside in the sun, or in a steamy shower, to "freshen" it, rather than do a full wash. When I do laundry, I usually hang dry most of my items. I have a tendency to do my laundry at night, so rather than hang clothes outside to dry, I have an over the door hanging bar that I hang wet clothes on. I also have one of those clothes shavers to take the pills off of things. You can get those at Bed Bath & Beyond, or Target I guess. My stuff generally lasts a long time, except when I spill oil-based food on it.
posted by vignettist at 10:13 PM on October 7, 2012

I work with an image consultant (stylist). She doesn't cost much - $75/hr - and she's more than willing to go to outlet stores. She goes an hour ahead of me and picks out clothes in my size. She has notes on my entire wardrobe. Anyway, I end up shopping with her for about 1.5 hours - that's 2.5 hours total or $187.50. Then I give her a clothing, shoe and accessories budget of $500. We go every two years for spring and winter wardrobes. That means I spend about $500-700 a year on clothes/shoes/etc when I work with her. I do still buy the occasional shirt or sweater, but I've learned so much from her and I have such a well thought out wardrobe that I hardly have to buy anything.

I hang my clothes, only folding casual shirts, capris and jeans.

I follow the directions for my clothes. I wash in cold water and I put stuff in the dryer, since I only buy stuff that can be washed and dried, except for the occasional piece where I've decided the extra effort is warranted.

I repair buttons myself. In fact, I am in the habit of replacing buttons before I need to. My stylist pointed out that really good thread will hold better for me, since my waist is a pressure point and the button is likely to pop, even when I have three and the extra in the waist band. It's just my body type.

I polish and condition my shoes. They last for years. I tend to buy them at outlets.

I think my clothes look pretty good and I don't think I spend a lot (for a professional), given that I can make my clothes work for all seasons and go from mom to casual to work, all with a few quick changes.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:14 PM on October 7, 2012 [24 favorites]

Best answer: Polish your shoes, it only takes a few minutes.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:17 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

A "well groomed" person takes care of their clothes. It's a responsibility and a form of awareness.

1] Make sure that your clothes match your activities and your lifestyle.
Minimize wear and tear.

There are clothes & shoes for going out of the house, and casual, knock-around clothes for hiking, gardening, staying in. When you come home from work/school/socializing, change out of your dress up clothes, into house clothes.

Keep your good clothes away from rough surfaces like cement or tree bark that could snag them. Don't sit on the wet ground. Never cook in dress up clothes. If you eat in good clothes, spread a napkin over your lap, pull up to the table, and use fastidious manners to avoid splashing on your clothes.

2] Evaluate how often you need to wash your dress-up clothes.
Were you in a smoky, dusty, greasy environment? Did you perspire heavily, or sit on a soiled surface?

If you don't need to wash your clothes, fold them neatly and put them away.

If they need to go into the laundry, follow all the good advice and guidance in AskMefi regarding laundering-- separate them by color and weight, prespot stains, wash the briefest amount of time in the coldest water possible, and line dry or hang dry if possible.

If you have enough money, take your dress-up laundry to a cleaners that will do mending for you.

3] In regards to shoes, it's all about maintenance. Purchase some wooden shoe trees, and rotate a couple pairs of shoes during the week. The shoes should dry out between wearings, and if you keep them on the shoe trees, they will retain their shape. If there is a TV show that you watch every week, that is the time that you polish your shoes. Start off with saddle soap or murphy's oil soap. When they are dry, apply one or two coats of shoe polish and finish with a brush. There should be tutorials on youtube or guidance from menswear or military documents about how to polish shoes.

4] Mend immediately, ongoingly. As you fold and put away your clothes, examine each item for loose hem, missing button, snags, or permanent stains. Often it's just a couple loose stitches, and if fix it right away, it won't get worse. Check videos on YOUTUBE or some of the craft blogs, they have tutorials for every kind of simple repair. Google "How To" hem a skirt, how to sew a button, how to polish shoes.

5] Make a rule for yourself that it's NEVER OK to appear disheveled in public. Find the time, locate the resources, make the commitment. Form an image of yourself that includes neat and tidy.
posted by ohshenandoah at 10:31 PM on October 7, 2012 [10 favorites]

For stains, I follow the stain remover directions to the letter. Some can sit for up to a week and actually work better that way. Some if you let them sit for a week, it just produces a big blob of vaguely greasy stain rather than the initial small stain.

The stuff I put in the dryer gets tumble or low heat only unless it's something that absolutely will not dry otherwise (or I don't care that much about). My workout shirts, for example, are a bamboo fabric that absorb moisture like a sponge, which is delightful when working out and a huge pain in the backside when drying them. But they're just for working out so I don't care how they fit, so they get the High treatment. Everything else gets Low or Tumble Only.

I'm a guy, so I wear undershirts under my dress shirts to keep them from getting sweaty and don't wear them any longer than I have to. Once I get home, they go right off and onto a hanger to air out. Even if I'm washing/dry cleaning them, it helps.

To use a baseball metaphor, I have my "starters", which are things suitable for every day wear, then I have a whole "bullpen" of clothes for various situations, older dress shirts that are still plenty good but not up to every day wear, and then "situational" clothes that I wear every now and again. I only buy "starters" and as they begin to wear down, I move them into the "bullpen" for occasional or supplemental use.

For example, if I'm on a business trip and only packing a garment bag, I'll bring enough "starter" dress shirts for the meetings, then fill in from my older shirt "bullpen" for things like maybe I need a change of shirts before dinner, maybe I want a backup shirt just in case, I need a shirt to wear on the plane ride home, and so on. This way my really nice shirts only get used for business and my older shirts are still useful for more-casual things, which saves wear and tear on both the newer and the older things. (And the same for pants, etc.). Likewise, even if I'm going out to a bar or club on business, I'll change into an older shirt so it can absorb the smoke, any drink spills, etc. This has the added bonus side effect of being refreshing.

I never wear dress things longer than I have to. When I'm home for the day or in the hotel for the evening on a trip, I'm in very casual clothes like t-shirts and pajama pants. This is partly because I hate being dressed any longer than I have to be and partly to save wear and tear on my nice and expensive clothes.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:44 PM on October 7, 2012

As a guy who asked a somewhat related question a little earlier: I buy $80 (men's) wool sweaters, treat them with great care, hang them up on properly shaped wooden hangers, avoid washing them if at all possible, and so on. They pill after a season, and definitely after two. That's just what $80 sweaters seem to do. I assume that people whose clothes look better just buy them more frequently.
posted by Nomyte at 10:52 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I basically don't wash sweaters, jackets, or similar. I always layer them over enough other things that they don't pick up BO. I don't hang around people who smoke. My nice sweaters don't get worn in dirty environments (like camping, or hiking, or cleaning around the house, etc), but only to work. I change out of my nicest clothes when I get home from work or from wherever I've worn them.

If I actually spill food on a sweater I spot clean that bit.

Occasionally a sweater starts to look like it might need a wash, and then I hand wash and line dry (flat). That might happen once every two or three years.

My sweaters have generally kept looking nice for 10-15 years. I generally get rid of them because they go out of style, or because my body shape has changed rather than because they look old.

Other clothes (trousers, skirts, etc) I buy in hard-wearing fabric, without too much detail, and wash often. I resign myself to having to replace them every three or four years. The nicest clothes, that I would wear to a job interview, wedding, or nice dinner, only get worn a couple of times a year, so they last a lot longer and I don't mind spending more on them.
posted by lollusc at 11:33 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also to remove piling from knitwear you really can just use a razor, rather than buying a special gadget. The trick is to stroke along the surface evenly and not press too hard.
posted by runincircles at 1:42 AM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

Stains: Just checked your profile and you're a girl. I often find it very easy to spill stuff on my shirts because, to put it frankly, my boobs get in the way. So, go down to the level of your food - lean down and forward and don't make the spoon travel a long distance up. Less chance of stains that way.

Shoes: I wear trainers most places and keep my nice shoes in my office. This makes the nice shoes last longer and I look professional indoors as they are not scuffed or muddy or what have you.

I am glad to read that other people don't wash their clothes that frequently either.
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:57 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wash infrequently, buy well-made stuff that can stand being worn a lot over a significant period of time, wash and dry on the gentlest setting, line dry a lot of stuff where possible, dry clean where possible (but infrequently).
posted by heyjude at 2:10 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

cashmere. specifically, high quality, tight knit cashmere with long threads. cheap cashmere (short threads/ loose knit/ thin ply) stretches out & pills. handwash in cold water, dry flat. cashmere blended with anything else isn't the same & not at all worth it.
posted by iiniisfree at 2:41 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

In re Nomyte's assumption: no! There's better stuff out there. Admittedly increasingly hard to find, but. I have sweaters, both wool and cashmere, which are decades old, which have never pilled.

If OP does not enjoy mending -- I find it a relaxing activity -- OP should find someone who does, and pay them.

Check previous threads about assessing clothing (shoe, etc) quality and steer clear of the disposable junk; this will make a huge difference.

(Dissent, re. fabric shavers: my 1980s Windmere does a far better job than a razor. I have heard complaints about contemporary fabric shaver quality, though)
posted by kmennie at 3:57 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I launder everything after one wearing, but I do it gently. Turn everything inside out to wash, wash in cold water, and dry on the lowest-heat setting. Never dry in a hot hot dryer, because it damages the fibers and causes them to wrinkle for the rest of the life of the garment. Remove that oily salad dressing stain with Pinesol or Lestoil, applied just before laundering in warm water.

If a knit item pills, don't buy that brand again; pilling means the manufacturer used short cheap fibers and didn't apply the right anti-pilling finish.
posted by Ery at 5:08 AM on October 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

Sweaters get handwashed only, air-dried flat. I was taught never to hang them because they'll stretch at the shoulders, but YMMV. Keep a small pair of manicure scissors in your purse to snip loose threads (as long as it's not the last thread holding something together). Keep a separate basket in your closet/laundry room for things that need to be repaired; then on the weekends, sit in front of the tv and re-stitch the hems, sew the buttons back on, etc. A dab of clear nail polish will hold down loose ends on top of your buttons. Pre-treat stains as soon as you get home (get yourself a stain treatment cheat-sheet), and wash as soon as you can. For non-leather shoes, I either buy cheap enough that I can replace them regularly, or buy expensive enough that I won't need to replace for a long time.

My favorite shirt has a salad dressing stain, so I just wear the shirt with a scarf or belt covering the stain.
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:41 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sweaters are washed on the gentle cycle with special detergent and flat dried so that they keep their shape. I use those mesh bags they help a ton! I may only wash a sweater once in its lifetime.

My blouses are made of that no-iron fabric because who are we kidding, I hate to iron. I wash them with very little detergent, in warm water and dry them on a permanant press setting. I get them out quickly and hang them right up.

If I have cotton pants, I try to wash them every other wearing. Cotton just doesn't last. Denim, the same, although it does last, it just doesn't need to be cleaned that often.

I rarely dry clean anything. That stuff stinks and that iron makes fabrics look shiny.

Bras I wash by hand, blot dry with towels and dry over the curtain rod.

Undies are washed in warm, with gentle detergent and dried in a warm (not hot) dryer.

I buy a lot of items with that jersey fabric. It's great, easy to wash, doesn't need ironing, and moves back into shape. Also, with huge boobs and a small waist, I don't have fit issues like I do with button up blouses.

Work with your body shape and find silhouettes that work, don't wear out your clothes by aggressively laundering them, use gentle detergents and about 50% of what the bottle says you need, treat stains quickly, use Tide pen or a Shout wipe to remove the stain on the fly, and pretreat it when you get home.

I throw things away when they're ruined. I cry, but what can you do? If a white shirt has a permanant stain, it's dead, get rid of it. If the fabric has pilled, and it can't be shaved, it's dead, get rid of it. If those pants shrank in the wash, or that dress faded from black to hunter green, or if the length of those pants isn't right, you must ruthlessly get rid of things.

You say you spend a lot of money on things, but are you buying quality items? Just because it's expensive, doesn't mean it's well made. Check seams, rub the fabric, really look at the yarn of the sweater, is it fuzzy looking in the store? Is the fabric heavy? There are some really shitty, cheap cashmeres out there. Just because it's cashmere, doesn't mean it's good cashmere.

Not the brands that hold up well, versus stuff that dies young. Note not to buy those brands any more.

Trial and error, and basic paying attention.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:14 AM on October 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

Stains: Just checked your profile and you're a girl. I often find it very easy to spill stuff on my shirts because, to put it frankly, my boobs get in the way. So, go down to the level of your food - lean down and forward and don't make the spoon travel a long distance up. Less chance of stains that way.

Seconding a lot of leaning forward. I never spill in my lap, but I've lost more than one shirt to boob stains. Also seconding the Tide stain pens; they're a lifesaver and a shirtsaver.
posted by immlass at 6:55 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Time, effort, attention, money and prioritizing--like everyone else has said. All the advice above is really good--especially the advice about shopping more mindfully and having your clothes tailored.

Spend a little more money for higher quality fabrics and construction. Spend a little more time caring for your clothes. Wear undershirts, camisoles, slips. Change out of your "good" clothes into house clothes when you are lounging around the house. Don't wear your "good" clothes for cleaning the house, for cooking, for any type of chore (or get in the habit of wearing aprons). Store your clothes properly: don't use wire hangers--fold most clothes for storage, anyway. Use dust protectors for clothing you rarely wear or store it in canvas underbed boxes. Don't hang them on hooks or pile them on the floor. Get a valet stand if it helps.

Clean and polish your shoes regularly.

Handwash, dryclean, spotclean; eschew the dryer. Learn how to mend or find a drycleaner with an employee who has good mending skills. Take things in for mending right away. Learn how to sew a button.

But here's what I did not see above:
1. ELIMINATE ALL THE VELCRO FROM YOUR LIFE. Never buy or carry a bag with a velcro closure. Open velcro catches on fabric and destroys it. In addition, check your shoulder bags, your backpacks and the like for edges or closures that will catch, rub or wear your clothing. Do the same with bracelets and necklaces--if a clasp is catching, rubbing or pulling threads from sweaters, don't wear it with sweaters or see if you can replace the clasp with a different sort. Check the edge of your desk where you sit at work. If it's snagging your clothes (I had a desk at a very high end law firm that did this--it was a high end law firm, but I was not one of their "important" lawyers), find some way to stop it (I duct-taped the hell out of it).

2. CARRY A SEWING KIT WITH YOU (or stash it in your desk). You can clip stray threads or tack a hem, keeping yourself tidy and preventing a small repair from becoming a big one.

3. Although washing less often will help, you cannot allow sweat to sit in garments or they will stain and wear. So wear undershirts or dress shields. Same with food spills--clean them immediately. I keep a spare outfit in my office so if I spill on myself (which I do--I eat lunch at my desk), I can wash the spot immediately in the sink or drop it at the cleaner right away. That is probably excessive, but oh well.

4. HEM CHAINS. Hooks and eyes. Basically, what the Hairpin called "couture hacks". They help your clothes hang properly, which makes them look nicer and helps keep them from catching or snagging on your surroundings.

Basically, time, money, effort. Being able to sew helps.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:04 AM on October 8, 2012 [11 favorites]

Buy the best quality you can afford. This does not need to cost the earth, but it does require you to develop a discerning eye. Well made garments in quality fabric will stand up to more wear and tear. Spend a bit of time cruising the high-end sale racks to learn the look and feel of great quality. Look carefully at materials and finish before you purchase.

Wash or clean the good stuff as infrequently as possible. Take steps to avoid cleaning your best clothes by layering with undergarments. Never wear the same garment or shoes two days running, but allow them to air, on a hanger or on trees. Hang as many things as you can on the proper hangers for the job. Skirts and trousers on clamp hangers or hangers with clips. Use garment bags and potpourri to ward off moths. Store shoes on trees (wooden trees are lovely, but really people, plastic ones are fine!)

Where possible, spot clean and press garments in place of laundering. Treat stains as soon as you notice them. If you spill something on yourself while eating, abandon your food an take action immediately. Learn about stain removal products and techniques for different fabrics - the internet is your friend. Make sure all stains are removed before pressing, as a hot iron can fasten marks in fabric. Buy a good-quality steam iron or steamer and learn how to use it properly. Press things before you plan to wear them.

When necessary, launder in preference to dry cleaning. Things come out cleaner that way. Apart form tailored garments and outerwear, almost nothing needs to go to the cleaner if you wash things carefully. If in doubt, consult the Internet for instructions according to fabric content. Launder as infrequently and as gently as possible. When you next buy a washing machine, make sure it has a delicate/wool/hand-wash cycle. Wash lingerie and other delicate items in bags. Never tumble dry anything.

Keep an eye out for split seams, sagging hems, trailing threads and lost buttons, and repair promptly. Keep a kit containing spare buttons and threads in different colours. Learn how to make basic repairs. Make temporary field repairs with the help of adhesive tape and safety pins. Keep shoes cleaned and repaired. Always remember to fasten buttons and zippers correctly.

If all this sounds too much like hard work, well, it is. Just remember that the truly stylish individual always knows when to let things slide.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 7:16 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I do the following:
- Layer clothing so I don't have to wash nice sweaters, shirts, skirts, pants very often (e.g. wear undershirts--yep, undershirts!--boyshorts, tights/leggings, etc.)
- Turn clothing inside-out when I do wash it
- Use the gentlest cycle and lowest heat possible when machine washing
- Place truly delicate items in a mesh bag for washing
- Handwash when possible
- Polish and repair shoes often
- Mend clothing promptly--trim dangling threads, remove pills, sew up holes, etc.

- Accept that certain types of garments have a limited lifespan (esp. "trendy" items) and don't try to extend the lifespan too far
posted by skye.dancer at 8:19 AM on October 8, 2012

How many sweaters or pairs of shoes do you have? A lot of people whose clothing looks new may not necessarily recycle every year, but they may own a lot more and therefore wear each item less (one person I knew whose shoes always looked good probably wore each pair about once a month, based on her options). Some things last more like a certain number of uses than a certain number of days...
posted by mdn at 8:39 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best trick I've learned over the years is to not put any clothes I want to keep looking nice in the dryer. I hang them on plastic hangers and dry either outside in the shade or on a rack. Tshirts go horrible if you dry them. Pretty much the only thing I dry in ours are old daggy around the house clothes, towels and jeans.

Buy good hangers and do not jam all your clothes in your wardrobe. You want to be able to get things in and out easily so they do not get tangled.

Do not use a hot wash, unless clothes need sterilizing or are super greasy. Use the gentlest wash you can for your washing needs. Hand wash bras and delicates.

Wear only Leather shoes as your dress up shoes. They will need to be cleaned and polished regularly, do not wear the same pair every day alternate so they can dry out inside and not get yucky. Learn how to polish properly and buff to a nice shine.

Oh and second best tip I ever learned was change out of good clothes when you get home so they get less wear and tear. That's what the old stained, can't be worn in public clothes are for :).
posted by wwax at 9:19 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh the other thing I forgot: foundation garments.

I could not find the comment, but someone in an once mentioned that in costuming for TV--the "good" girls, the "rich" girls all wear really good bras, with straps that *never* show and shapewear. The "bad" girls and "poor" girls don't.

Shapewear (spanx, flexees or whatever) really helps clothes lay well on your body and helps control static cling. You may find it unbearable--in which case--ignore the suggestion, but I think it really does help people look pulled together.

Along the lines of the couture hacks I mentioned above, if you sew (or have a dry cleaner do tailoring for you), you can sew bra snaps into your shirts to keep bra straps from showing. They are basically embroidery thread with small snaps set in the top shoulder seam of your shirts. You loop the thread around your bra strap, snap it closed and your bra won't show in a wider neckline top.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

I buy cheap for things that get stained easily or look blah--white long sleeve t-shirts for example. Same with flats-the Urban Outfitters flats for $20 last as long as I need them to. But I spend big on the things that last--dress slacks, skirts, cashmere sweaters and I take good care of them--blotting stains before taking to the cleaners, airing them out after wearing, hanging up nicely.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:06 AM on October 8, 2012

I like to keep my clothes for a long time. Here are some of the things I do:

--Zout stain treatment is the best I've ever tried. It needs to be used twice for set-in blood, but for other stains it works the first time. My husband gets a lot of oil spatters from cooking; sometimes I miss the spots and treat them after they've been washed and dried. Zout works then, too.

--I have a battery operated "sweater shaver" (fabric shaver) like this one. IMO, the small ones (1.5 - 2" head) are better than the larger ones because the small holes are less likely to cause damage. I hold my hand underneath and shave the fabric against my palm. It's not quick, but you end up with a no-pill sweater -- worth it! It also works on thinner fabrics.

-- Some knit fabrics get little "growths" that aren't quite pills. If I really want to keep the garment, I iron it using spray sizing. There aren't a lot of tops that merit this treatment, though.

--Pills and sub-pills happen because fabric rubs against fabric and tangles the tiny surface fuzz. I cut down on the rubbing by using the gentlest wash cycle, which is also usually the quickest. Your clothes probably aren't very dirty, so they don't need much agitation.

--I put lots of things in the dryer. Sometimes it's just ten minutes on low to remove wrinkles and stiffness; sometimes I leave them in till they're almost dry. I try not to let them get completely dry. Also, don't load up the dryer too much.

--Use the smallest amount of detergent that will do the job. Seriously, use half of what the label says and see how your clothes fare.

--If you hand wash, you can still put the clothes in the spin cycle. I've never had anything untoward happen that way, and they dry a lot faster.

--If a blouse gaps between buttons, I use double-sided tape.

--Inspect clothes when you're done laundering them. Inspect yourself in a full-length mirror before you go out.

--When you look neat and smart, tell yourself that! Positive reinforcement works, even if it's just you praising yourself.
posted by wryly at 11:41 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

A little bit of an oblique tip: a surprisingly good place to find really good quality clothes inexpensively is the thrift store. Pretty much all the clothes will have been used and laundered. The ones that are going to fall apart are failing already (or have already failed.) The really good stuff still looks great, even after who-knows-what treatment. Have to separate the wheat from the chaff, of course, but you will know good quality when you see it!
posted by Sublimity at 5:10 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

What everyone said about maintenance. Also, I've found that used clothing made in the the U.S., Canada, Israel or Europe outlasts NEW clothing made in Asia by a mile. This doesn't count stuff custom-made in Asia -- linen shifts run up in Thailand for <$20 still look good after 5+ years of heavy use.
posted by cyndigo at 5:21 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dry clean whatever you can. Treat it as an expense like buying clothes. You just have to do it for some items of clothing, even though it costs money. Otherwise don't buy those items. Some of your dresses have to be dry cleaned, even if you think you can "get away" with a machine wash. Add the appropriate amount to your monthly budget.

Also, for guys: whenever I go through a larger airport I think about which shoes need a polishing and I let the shoe polishing guy do it for me while I am laying over. Sometimes I even pack an extra pair in my carry on bag to have him polish as well. He's a pro. And you are definitely helping his small business.
posted by boots77 at 12:55 AM on November 2, 2012

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