7 Preventative Measures To Make Your Clothes Last Forever

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If you’re reading this, you've likely put a lot of money, time, and thought into your clothes. You've painstakingly chosen this dress over that one, tried to fit shoes into your budget and then thrown caution to the wind to spend half a paycheck on a silk cami, or otherwise maxed out your credit card in order to achieve a certain look. And why not? You get dressed every day, so it might as well feel special and beautiful. Here's the thing: When you put so many resources into your wardrobe, you should spend just as much time and effort on its preservation. If you love something, don't treat it casually.

We spoke to Melanie Charlton, founder of Clos-ette, about preventative measures we can take from the outset to keep our clothes in as-close-to-new-as-possible condition for, if we’re lucky, a lifetime of wear. It is possible to keep clothes looking fresh, and to give them a longer lifespan than you ever could have imagined, but it means no crumpled piles of balled-up fabric on the floor. Here are seven things you can do to keep your precious clothing collection in the divine shape it deserves
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Prevent: Stretching and warping
Your secret weapon: Hangers

How to: Melanie stresses how important it is to hang your clothes, with a few very specific exceptions:“Other than...the exquisite specialty items — because those are items you don’t want to hang (beaded items, leather, certain sweaters that will come out of shape completely and stretch, such as heavy gauge as well as thinner cashmere sweaters) — otherwise, I like to hang everything. I just think hanging is better visual merchandising for closets and it’s better for the clothes.”
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Prevent: Snags and pulls
Your secret weapon: Matching hangers

How to: Melanie says that the most common mistake she sees in people’s wardrobes is that they use many different types of hangers — hanging your clothes isn’t enough, how you hang them matters, too. “Once you get one color and one style of a hanger, and you’re not using half wire, half wood, half plastic, it shows your clothes so much better... That's a visual merchandising trick that is no-fail. You should do that right out of the gate. And the other thing is, wood hangers just do not save space at all. Different types of hangers, unfortunately, when you’re not using a streamlined system, end up catching on clothes and so on and so forth, which I think is the biggest mistake people make.”
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Prevent:
Color fading
Your secret weapon: Cold-wash detergent

How to: Nothing gives away the age of your clothing like a dull, discolored appearance. "Fading can be caused by water-insoluble particles that redeposit on fabric during washing, making fabrics look faded from the film on the surface," says Akemi Ooka, method's senior director of formulation (a.k.a. formulatrix). "method 4X concentrated laundry detergent contains ingredients that prevent these particles from redepositing on clothes, keeping your colors clean and bright." For another preventative measure, Ooka recommends washing items in cooler temperatures, and this detergent is specifically designed for just that.
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Prevent: Color bleeding
Your secret weapon: Acid-free paper

How to: How you fold also matters to the preservation of your beloved clothes. Melanie advises, “As far as storing certain items, like beaded items, I often put acid-free paper around them. It keeps them from bleeding into one another and exchanging color.”
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Prevent: Bug-eaten holes
Your secret weapon: Lavender oil

How to: When you’re storing your clothes away, it’s important to make sure their enclosure is impenetrable to bugs. Nothing ruins a beautiful sweater like a giant moth-made hole. Melanie suggests using lavender in your wardrobe and drawers. “I am a huge fan of using lavender, not cedar, in your closet. It helps with keeping the bugs away and it’s a natural antiseptic. It’s more potent than cedar — you put a dab of lavender oil on a shelf and bugs won’t come within five feet of it.”
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Prevent: Deflated handbags
Your secret weapon: Bag stuffers

How to: We’re assuming that your unused handbags live either empty or with some crumpled tissues, last night’s lipstick, and old mints rolling around inside. Melanie stresses the importance of using specially made bag stuffers to preserve your purse's shape. “Use them for bags that [need to] keep their shape. You can use acid-free paper rolled up inside your bags.”
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Prevent: Misshapen shoes
Your secret weapon: Shoe trees

How to:
Shoes are often overlooked, maybe getting the odd buff with polish but for the most part sitting on a rack or in their box. Melanie says it’s important to use shoe trees in order to help your beautiful pairs keep their shape, and consistent cleaning is also a must. “Inner trees for tall boots are almost a necessity… They not only help with storing [boots] upright, but also with the shape of the leg of the boot, the calf of the boot. Maintenance of leather shoes is getting a good shoe brush and some really good boot polish. You want to do that at least once a season, but just having the brush handy for suede and for leather to brush off boots and keep them somewhat clean generally can keep the exterior from getting too bad.”
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Prevent: Broken jewelry
Your secret weapon: Special storage

How to: Your jewelry probably comprises the most expensive and most delicate items in your wardrobe. Keeping it in good shape is as simple as storing it right. Melanie says her company's created the answer: “It’s a travel jewelry case but it has removable vinyl zippered cases, so you can actually store your jewelry in those, and it has individual pockets for everything from rings to earrings to cuffs. It can be used in a case for travel or it can be used in a drawer for storage, and it’s a great way of preventing all your jewelry from clumping up. Another great thing is just acrylic or suede-lined jewelry inserts for drawers, which you can buy at The Container Store, which is probably the cheapest option, and they come in different sizes.”
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