I am resisting the urge to buy new clothes lately, and am trying to take care of the clothes I have. A little meditative labour can save you hundreds of dollars and extend the life of clothes that you love. You will still love them to death one day, but with a little maintenance you can make them last so much longer. To this end, these are the meditative mending tasks I find myself doing on a lazy rainy day on the couch in front of an episode of The Kettering Incident:
Learn how to fix holes in knitted things, and do it quickly before the hole grows so big as to be unmanageable. There are lots of different ways to darn, and depending on the thickness of the knitted fabric you could darn with anything from tapestry wool to transparent nylon or silk thread. Pinterest has some great instructions for different darning methods.
Fixing loose buttons, or replacing sets of buttons entirely can either make barely functioning clothing useful again, or can revitalise an old tired look. Many times I have bought a rather ordinary dress or coat second hand, and then totally reworked it just by changing the buttons. You could have an old slightly-worn black shirtdress that you freshen up with kelly green buttons, or a nice coat with rather ugly buttons that you replace with something much more classic or timeless. Learning how to sew a shank button on well is an especially useful skill (especially when that coat has got just a little too tight and you need an extra millimetre or two at the bust or midriff).
For the love of all that is good in life, get yourself a cashmere comb! My boyfriend bought a sweater online recently that came with its own cashmere comb. I am pretty sure the teeth are made of diamond. This wondrous object of worship now lives in the top drawer of his desk and I use it at least once a week on my three cashmere cardigans and any merino or machine knitted item that is getting a bit ‘pilly’. It keeps my knitwear looking so much less ratty and I feel far more polished and together leaving the house. Depilling is an activity second only to the power of lint brush (I love the kind with sticky layers of paper that you tear off only to reveal a pristine new layer). If you can’t get your hands on a cashmere comb, I hear on good authority that a lady bic razor can also do an excellent job.
Replacing a Zipper
Can you count on more than one hand the number of times you have thrown out or donated an item of clothing just because the zipper no longer works? It’s actually pretty easy to replace a zipper, even if it’s not the right length to start with. I would definitely recommend buying a zipper foot for your sewing machine. I bought my zipper feet on ebay and they (like learning to drive), have changed my life. Being able to replace a zipper is also a useful skill when you have an item of clothing that is either slightly too large or slightly too small, being able to take it in a bit at the back seam or let it out as you add a new zipper, can make all the difference. Life is too short to wear ill fitting and uncomfortable clothes, better to goldilocks the shit out of that favourite garment and make it… just right.
Polishing your Shoes
While I actually never polish my shoes, most days I look at them and think ‘how much better would life be right now if my shoes were shiny and unscuffed!?’ Like doing my nails and blowdrying my hair, I feel like taking better care of my shoes is one of those things I could definitely do to make myself feel more polished. Paying close attention to how worn down the heels of your shoes are and taking them to a cobbler to get replaced is another of those things that can literally save you hundreds of dollars.
Bonus Tip: Laundry Dos and Don’ts
Moving to Australia taught me to be very very careful not to dry clothing in direct sunlight, but using a dryer can be problematic too (both for your clothes and the environment). I find that either my clothes fade in the sun too quickly, or get slightly fuzzy and worn from too many tumbles through the dryer.
Handwash silks and woollens, and then roll them in a couple of towels to squeeze most of the water out of them before drying in the shade. In winter, if a garment is staying stubbornly wet even after a day of drying, lay it flat on a chair in front of the heater.
Stains are best dealt with within hours of being stained, but even after days or weeks a little Sard Wondersoap or Sunlight Soap applied directly to the stain, agitated and then left for a few hours to soak in, before then soaking the whole garment in warm water and an oxygenating bleaching solution can make all the difference. Reducing stains on white fabric is the one time I find direct sunlight acceptable. I adore Sard Wondersoap and use it at least once a week, I even take a little sliver of it traveling with me, which can really help your travel clothes from getting grotty – it works especially well for grease and oil stains.