As a city dweller, I find myself constantly trying to keep up with the maintenance of my few possessions in an attempt to keep cost down. Visits to the mechanic, repairs here and there in my flat, keeping the unruly garden in shape and a host of other things. I guess like everything I possess, my wardrobe actually goes through a lot of wear and tear, and considering the fact that I wear my clothes to death!, subconsciously I must be doing something to try to lengthen their lives.
Recently, however, I started consciously thinking about my wardrobe; Yes, I patch up holes and sew on broken buttons, dye some old clothes -especially the black ones when they fade, re-heel the soles on shoes once worn out and sometimes change the colour of shoes to give them a new lease of life, I try not to get too involved with fast fashion, be sustainable, whilst still having fun, and what with the pollution levels in London, febreeze has become my best ally, followed closely by the dry-cleaner – but I asked myself, if my wardrobe is working so hard, could I give it a bit of love along the way?
For a while now, my young Daughter would watch me dress and say with excitement in her eyes,, ” oh mama, can I please have this dress when I grow up’ or “ooh mama I like those clickity-clack shoes you are wearing, can you keep them until I’m older please”?, My normal response would be a chuckle or laughter, and I’d point out that by the time she grows up, this will be out of fashion, or mama would have worn it to death, then her expression would change to that of disappointment.
Lately however, I started to think, that like me, and my other possessions, perhaps my wardrobe could do with some tender loving care (TLC), perhaps I could be a better steward over what I possess, especially the pieces that I like to wear over and over again, after all, fashion just goes around in a circle, and all my daughter is asking for are pieces that will be termed as ‘vintage’ when she grows up, just like I got given a few pieces from my mother’s wardrobe. I suppose in this day and age of fast fashion, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pass down to the next generation, but I presume, that with some of the better quality pieces I have invested in, I might just be able to hand her, a few of the dresses, skirts, shoes & earrings that she sees me wearing in her childhood, and have fond memories of me wearing them. Gosh, I sound extremely grown up! but it is, what it is.
In any case, Motivated by my daughters’ sentiments, and my ‘conscious’ desire to give my hard working wardrobe some love, I decided to take on a little challenge a few months ago, to make this my reality. I often get told that I must have a lot of clothes in my wardrobe, because of the way I dress, but the truth is, the whole of my wardrobe can actually fit into one big suitcase ,(shoes apart, of course). A lot of my friends don’t believe it, until they actually come round to my digs. The key of course, to looking like you have a lot of clothes is mixing, layering and accessorizing. (TIP)
My regular routine for my Shoes
Until recently, routine care for all my shoes was thus -, keep them in the original boxes purchased in; always stuff with the ball of paper at end of shoes followed by the two strips of plastic tubes to hold the shape; pre-treat fabric shoes with a protective/Waterproof spray; wipe down with a cloth when dirty, air out when I think a particular pair have worked very hard, dry out in the sun if need be, and very rarely, a polish job with one of those foamy polish tube things.
In my quest to give my wardrobe some love, I found myself talking to cobblers and shoe shiners and it turns out, there is a lot more I could be doing for my shoes.
Mink Oil £5.00 https://nl.shinola.com
New leather shoes tend to come with a shinny finishing effect, which mainly consist of basic polishing and tanning, unfortunately this does not last, and apparently I have to give my leather shoes a good polishing from time to time, to keep up with good appearance. What I didn’t realize was the act of polishing plays a far more significant role then just making my shoes shinny. Apparently, My feet like everybody else’s, sweat in shoes, resulting in salt which causes my shoes to shrink, crack and become more prone to scratches. polishing, keeps them supple. However, In my quest for TLC, I discovered ‘Mink oil’ which apparently is a leather conditioner and provides waterproofing. I used it on my leather shoes, and I suppose it’s equivalent to applying an intense conditioner to my hair. My shoes lapped it up, and looked as good as new again, it also smells quite nice, which is a bonus for any pair of shoes.
Cedar wood shoe tree £13.00 https://totalwardrobecare.co.uk
Yes, and guilty as charged! I often wear the same pair of shoes for days in a row, albeit sometimes having two pairs of the shoes I rock a lot.I seldom put my day to day shoes in shoe trees, and my dressy shoes, once worn, just go straight back into the boxes they came in, jammed with the same ball of paper and the arched plastic strip they came with. It turns out, that in order to preserve my shoes, I need to give them a rest after a 2 day wear. Consequences for not following suit include sweaty shoes, which have no time to dry, hence producing smelly shoes and lose of shape. I of course always wear socks for comfort and to avoid fugal growth in my shoes (TIP), but now for TLC I went one step further, and gently slotted cedar wood shoes trees into my battered day to day shoes whilst still warm inside (TIP), By so doing, my shoes have time to reshape, relax, breath, smell great, thanks to the cedar wood, which also absorbs the sweat, all ingredients for shoe longevity!
I was privileged enough to be gifted with a pair of shoes of my choice, and for the first time in my adult life, I opted for these square toed white Vagabond shoes. White of any kind is always high maintenance, and against my better judgement, and even though everything inside of me was screaming “protect them before you wear them” and the cleaning products were on display at the press launch, and I asked questions about the products, but No, I didn’t protect them. I was too eager to rock out my first pair of white shoes. I need not tell you what happened after the first wear. Moving forward, I humbly acquired the cleaning products, and tried to get my new shoes as white as snow, but alas, it was too late and I had to settle for off white snow, which retrospectively, I actually quite like.
TLC means I now give my white shoes a wipe, after a days’ wear, yes I still wear them two or three days in a row, and yes, I sometimes drive in these shoes and others,which I have now been informed (is not great for keeping the shape of your shoes) TIP, but I now try to refrain from these habits and a shoe therapy kit to keep the leather supply, and my off white colour intact. And also try not to wear them on a rainy day, because I actually do quite like the shape and colour of these shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to whip out a tissue, or put finger to tongue (yuk!), at the slight scuff to my shoes, in fact, I think the older the shoe sometimes looks, especially leather, the better actually – but it’s all about the longevity of the shoes.
I am not a massive wearing of trainers, but the few I have are more functional that fashion based. In the past, my trainers would just get worn, left out to air, and then left to sit on my shoe shelf gathering dust, until the next time I need to use them, at which point, I’d have to put through one of my windows and give them a good shake out. TLC now means I protect them with a spray when first purchased, use an odor spray after use, and have replaced a wet cloth routine for wipes designed to clean them properly. There are a lot of products on the market for this, but in the end I settled for the Sneaker lab range because they are water-based, – which means I don’t have to open my windows or spray outside the flat, because the smell is too pungent, In addition, it does what it says on the tin, smells better, and there is actually enough fluid in the small container to cover both of my trainers.
As a Personal stylist, I have to practice what I preach, so over the last few years I gradually replaced all my hangers for wooden ones, and tried to folded all my woollies and dedicates, instead of hanging them up, which causes them to lose their shape (TIP).
Yes I have been know to throw the occasional jumper or silk top in the washing machine precariously in the past, but I haven’t done that for years now, In fact, I resulted to washing all my clothes, except my whites and dry cleaning jobs, with a supermarket brand delicate hand wash liquid. I found it cleaned just a well as the regular detergents, but was not as harsh, and keep my colours popping for much longer.
TLC comes in the form of another laundry product I discovered two months ago. What sets it apart for me, is the fact that I no longer have to rinse my clothes after washing or use a fabric conditioner! My clothes still come out soft, clean, smelling great – with fragrances like tart citrus & crushed eucalyptus, which puts me in a great mood when I wear the clothes, and the products are biodegradable, sulfate, dye and phosphate free.
Soak full size bottle 375ml (75 washes) -£16.00 http://soakwash.com/
TLC also means I now put my tights, dedicates and underwear in cotton mesh bags, before popping them into the washing machine, to help maintain their shape.
My drawers were a neglected zone in times gone by, but over the years, I became quite savvy and purchased some partitioning soft boxes from IKEA, which brought some order to my constantly over flowing drawers in which I was forever trying to match my socks , or find a pair of tights that hadn’t been laddered – (yes, I do wear my coloured laddered tight, and keep the non laddered ones for special occasions, or when I have to represent).
TLC for my drawers now comes in form of scented drawer liners. I did buy some many years ago, but they were quite floral and smelt like my grandmothers’ lavender perfume or other. Lately however, I came across some really groovy ones that kill three birds with one stone! They have a very natural scent, which is not so strong that it clashes with my perfumes, but strong enough that when I open my drawers, the contents smell divine; the liners are Anti-moth and actually very effective so far, so no need for moth ball, and no moths chumming on my woollies and silks; and the print/colour of the liners are pleasant on the eye.
Natural scented anti-moth drawer liners £18.50 https://totalwardrobecare.co.uk
What else could I be extending TLC towards I wondered, but I didn’t have to look to far around – I have so many scarves and ties, but they were a jumble of woolly, cotton and silk, all loaded on to two hangers, which I constantly pulled at like draw strings, causing many of them to fall out or catch on the corners of the hanger. TLC comes in the form of separating the wool from the cottons and silks. Actually, this hanger which is very aesthetically pleasing caused me to separate my scarves. I originally was just going to hang it on the wall, but when told it was a scarf/Tie hanger, I decided to feed my lighter weight scarves and ties through it. This little re organisation, does make a difference when I am frantically trying to get myself and small human ready in the morning for the school run, before starting my day, and of course, the snagging of scarves & ties is no longer an issue.
Triangle Scarf/Tie holder £15.00 https://www.vam.ac.uk/shop
Finally, even though I have only come thus far with providing TLC for my wardrobe, my pursuit of this is ongoing. I have since discovered other products and ways in which I can use to achieve these goals. The interesting thing about this quest, is that it seems effortless; I have quite a busy life, and anything that involves too much of the regime becomes quite a chore. Knowing that there are now products on the market to help achieve a loving wardrobe, and most of them of are quite affordable makes my quest more achievable. Better still, a lot of the products are now water based, environmentally friendly and sustainable which can only be TLC for the earth.
As for my daughter, I hope that she will grow up pulling from the same school of thought she sees my pulling from. I do intend to pass some of the pieces she likes on to her when she’s older, but I would like it to be a more organic process in which it is just due to the care I give those pieces, as opposed to me wearing less of them for preservation.
As I mentioned, I am quite enjoying this quest, so look out for part two to this post in the near future. I have learnt so much on this quest, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this matter. Feel feel to contact at firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter or Instagram.
I would also like to hear how you are getting on, should you choose to take on any of my tips. Happy TLC for you wardrobes ^_^