Updated: Apr 26, 2020
You can really bring down your style and look sloppy when your clothes look unintentionally distressed, but it is really hard to keep our clothing looking good for very long these days so it is so important to be intentional and mindful when it comes to our clothing.
Fast fashion is made to fall apart on us so we feel we need to buy more, but no matter how much we buy we can never keep up with the new, but we feel the constant urge to consume more.
This carelessness with how things are made and even sold has created a domino affect to how we as consumers think and care for what we wear. We don't mend or care for clothing how we would have 100 years ago. Clothing isn't looked at as a cherished, quality thing anymore and quality is rarely understood.
People used to wear clothes over and over and over for years, mending where they could. Today we are lucky if an item lasts us a month..
One garbage truck load of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every second!
The average consumer bought 60 percent more clothes in 2014 than in 2000, but kept each garment for half as long (and that is growing).
It has become very common for us to shop for clothing on a daily basis. Fashion has a furious pace that means we have access to new stuff constantly.
Plus, we have the ability to purchase a head to toe look for the cost of our evening meal, which makes it possible for us to shop several times a week or month without blinking an eye.
Fashion's fast paced, cheap characteristics are not that far off from the food industry's. The food industry introduced additives, sugar and processed crap to keep food cheap and stay unnaturally fresh. Fashion has done the same thing. It has skimped on quality and construction and has made blended fabrics the norm.
These blended fabrics are not for our benefit and only blended to keep their production costs down and make the price of the clothing cheaper for us..but then it pills and falls apart after a wear or two.
It is hard to avoid the unbelievable cute clothing that is pumped out daily/weekly in our favorite fast fashion stores, but the only way to quench our appetite for fast fashion is to look beyond its short-lived satisfaction and really become mindful of how it makes us feel deep down. Do we really want to have an over abundance of crap that we don't love or feel awesome in? From my experience, the answer is always 99%, no!
So what does all of this have to do with how we care for our clothing you may ask?
Well as I mentioned before the bad habits and efforts of the fashion industry create common bad habits for consumers. We don't realize they are bad because everyone else is in the same boat, doing the same bad habits.
Understanding fabrics, fit, construction and quality are all extremely important to building a wardrobe that isn't disposable, but what you do with the items you already own or the new ones you buy at home is a whole other thing!
It is 100% essential to care for our clothing better and make it last longer. We have gotten so used to quick, mindless clothing care habits, so this isn't always the easiest place for people to adjust, but it is the most important.
You can have an entire wardrobe of Forever 21 $h*t, but if you take care of it like it is expensive, pure silk you can actually make it last (but try not to buy that $h*t anymore regardless). Read through these tips and implement them into your daily lives. Give yourself a month to get into the habit of it, but once you do you will see a drastic difference in how much longer your clothing lasts + looks.
Clothing isn't disposable, even if it is being made to be.
Air Dry every time!
95%+ of your wardrobe should not go into the dryer. Yes, seriously.
Dryers seem like a necessity for everything we wear, when in reality only about 3-5% of your wardrobe should everrrr see the dark shadows that sit behind the dryer door. The dryer is very rough on clothing. It shrinks, pulls and the tumbling causes a lot of friction causing fabric break down and pills.
I know this seems outlandish at first, but I guarantee if you changed your laundry habits, you would see a drastic difference in how your clothes look, feel and fit (with the exception of the ones already tweeked, pulled and dulled from the past drying).
Delicates, polyester, leggings, anything dark, black jeans, jeans, bathing suits, etc etc should not go in the dryer, ever.
If there is something you need to dry to make it fit snugger like a pair of jeans, put them in alone for a few minutes to get the majority of the water out and then hang to dry after.
If you must dry something in a rush, dry on low..but just try to plan better.
Even athletic wear should not go into the dryer! It gets distorted and looses its umph when it is dried in the dryer and wont last long. You know how the waist band or fabric in general can get that little wavy look to it? Yea that's the dryer.
Plus, the dryer will lock in smells and bacteria from sweat! It basically sets it into the synthetic fibers and can make your clothes smell even after washing them.
*I personally try to laundry in the evening and then hang dry the clothing in the kitchen, in front of the radiator (but not touching it of course) and let the clothing hang dry over night. Then in the morning they are ready for me to quickly grab in a rush. Putting a fan on it also does wonders. Make sure you air dry in a spacious room and not tucked away in a corner where there is no air flow > The clothes will take forever to dry and they will get that mildew-y smell that is the actual worst thing ever.
Yes, this takes more effort but doing anything half a$$ has never done anyone any good, so why expect it to work for you & your wardrobe?
Separate those darks, lights + whites.
Yes YES Yes! Your grandma, mom, ant and are all right, separating your darks and lights is always essential! There is literally never an exception to this rule...ever..sorry.
Especially with mass produced clothing like jeans or anything that is a vibrant color. Companies intentionally don't wash out all of the dye or in some cases set it properly during production so it looks better (more vibrant) hung in the stores. That is why sometimes clothing's color can drastically change once washed or even rub off on other fabrics during wear.
How do you know what goes with what?
- Whites should be washed with whites (Bleach or a bleach alternative is key)
- Blacks, navys and other darks of these levels should be washed with each other
- The in-betweens like pastels, greys etc should be washed together. This can sometimes be a perfect delicate cycle (load) since undergarments can fall into these color tones a lot of the time.
Separate textures too!
Be mindful of what textures you are washing together.
Jeans and rayon blouses or silk skirts should not be swishing around together.
Denim is naturally rough and heavy and will be tough on finer fabrics.
Break down your loads by color and then by texture. Keep like fabrics with like fabrics.
AND - Please never ever ever ever wash your towels or bedding with your clothing, ever!
Do smaller loads + always wash on cold
Over packing your washer will create pockets where detergent can get stuck and even stain your clothes.
Clothing is also rough on each other and can create too much friction and tension on each other.
Washing on cold is soooooo important. Hot water is hard on the fibers and even washes out the dyes that are in the fabric.
The only time I ever would say washing on warm is okay for clothing is when you are bleaching whites. I still would suggest putting it on a delicate cycle though.
Don't over do it on detergent or add a bunch of chemicals to your clothes
Adding too much detergent is actually counter productive and can actually cause more harm than good.
More detergent than recommended can actually get stuck in the fibers of your clothes and lock in bacteria and even moisture.
Avoid fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and anything else that isn't the straight up basics. They are mostly gimmicks that just add a coating to the fibers of your clothes making them smell nice and seem softer when they are really just covering you in chemicals and hurting the fibers of your clothing.
I suggest using a a free & clear regular detergent for delicates, colors etc. and a Woolite 'for darks' detergent for your darks (yes, it might not be the best ingredients but its job is significant so I personally compromise here since I wear a lot of dark toned clothing)
Use a gentle detergent bleach for whites as well!
Don't over wash!
We don't need to wash clothing as much as we think we do. As Americans we have gotten into the very deep habit of thinking because it was on our bodies, even for a short amount of time that it is dirty, when it isn't. Of course there are certain items that need to be washed after each wear such as underwear, but your jeans, sweaters, silk blouses etc. really really don't.
If it is close and up against your body it can probably be tossed in the laundry bin, but if it is something that sits off of your direct skin don't wash it all the time.
Even items that do sit against your skin such as leggings and jeans can be worn more times than one! Stretch out your wears!
An example: You wore a sweater to dinner, you did get a little sweaty cus it was hot but over all it is pretty clean and was only worn for a few hours. Take it off and immediately hang it to air out. *
When we take things off and toss them into a pile on the floor the body heat, sweat etc cook in the crevices of the fabric folds building up bacteria that make the item feel and smell dirty..when it wouldn't have been if you aired it out
When you need to extend an items freshness for longer, spritz the hung item with this mixture of one part vodka and 3 parts filtered water, inside and out and let it air dry.
I promise you wont smell like a bar! This is an old costume trick (since costumes get worn a lot but can't be washed because it will change their appearance)
Treat stains right away!
Don't let stains set in. Almost every stain is removable.
Whatever you get on yourself, immediately google "how to get red wine out of silk" (or whatever it might be) and get it out properly and quickly so the item isn't ruined!
Mend it up!
We have a tendency to dismiss our clothing for very small damages that are 99% fixable. Mending has become a lost chore, but it is so important and since clothing is basically our second skin, we will always need to mend, even when something is high quality.
Now, I know not everyone is crafty or even wants to deal with fixing that flimsy button, but there are plenty of seamstresses and dry cleaners that will happily fix your item for you for a low cost.
Putting some buttons back or fixing a minor hole of the seam really shouldn't cost you very much.
+ There is always youtube if you want to try it yourself!
You can always get things altered if you want to extend the items life too.
Sprucing up an old blazer by removing the shoulder pads and adding a more modern set up buttons and hemming it a tad can make a world of difference and update what would have be considered "dated".
Be mindful of how you are storing your clothing.
Knits (example: jersey t-shirts) should be neatly folded or half hung to prevent the knits from loosing their shape.
Sweaters should always be folded.
Beaded items should not be hung next to delicates like silk or even sheer polyester. Think about the friction of the items living next to each other, and avoid where you can.
Everything should have a place. Our clothing tends to get more damage, gets lost or we forget we own it when we don't have a place for it. Investing in some legit closet organizing pieces like sweater bins, shoe racks or drawer dividers can make a huge difference in the process of dressing and the longevity of the clothing.
Treat everything like it is expensive + stop buying cheap!
Treating everything like it is expensive is super important. Since clothing is so cheap today, we treat it as such and it feeds into the bad habits mentioned before.
Change your mindset and think about every piece of clothing as important and worthy of being cared for.
Stop saying "it was only $20 so it's fine if it doesn't last"...cus it isn't fine. $20 might not seem like a lot, but when you are purchasing multiple items a week or month at $20 that can quickly add up. Plus, the item is still a physical object that shouldn't just end up in a landfill or ocean. It needs a purpose and function, so give it one!
~ ~ ~
I know this can feel like a lot but I promise if you take it on and give your clothing the much needed care and attention it deserves you will become more mindful of quality as well and it will by default make you make better choices in the future.
It is also a great way to slow down and really understand what you have and what it is worth to you.
Be patient and remind yourself that all you gotta do is try. You don't have to be perfect every time..just try to do better each day. That is all that matters in anything you do, as long as you are putting in the effort and trying things will get better.
Pleaseee reach out and let me know if you have questions or if any of this has made a difference for you! <3
XOXO Georgia Caroline // RUBA RUBA