The Importance of Stuff Maintenance, Part 2

So now that you know how to keep your stuff clean, here are some tips for keeping your stuff pristine! Or, if not pristine, at least in wearable condition for a goodly long time.

1. An organized closet
If you’re wondering why your shoes are getting scuffed and torn, consider how you’re storing them. Are they in a giant heap at closet-bottom, or neatly arranged in racks or boxes? If you’re wondering why those shirts that just returned from the cleaners are already rumpled, consider how you’re storing them. Are they hanging loosely in a spare, clean closet, or jammed in with a thousand other shirts that haven’t been worn since 1998? If you’re wondering why your jewelry is in a tumbleweed-sized knot … OK, you get the picture. An organized closet is key to keeping your wardrobe in wearable shape.

2. Shoe polish and repair
Shoe polish can be dangerous, I know. Unless you’re dealing with deepest black leather, you run the risk of accidentally staining your caramel-colored boots chocolate brown. (Did that myself recently. Bah.) On the other hand, scuffed shoes look like ass. If you’ve got a beloved pair that look as if you’ve been jogging through the thistle fields in them, and they are a polishable color, learn how to buff and shine. Or stop by the airport or bus station for some people watching and a visit to a shoeshine pro.

Be sure to locate a reliable shoe repair shop, too. Most buckle and heel problems can be fixed, and many leather woes as well. Don’t ditch well-loved shoes until you’re positive that they are unsalvageable.

3. Pressing
I will admit to being useless at pressing my clothes. I mean, not only do I hate doing it, but pieces somehow appear MORE wrinkled after I’ve had a go with the iron. Still, most spandex-free cloth, linen, and items with exposed seams require pressing, lest they appear to have been stored in fist-sized wads on your closet floor. Learn to press, or pony up and let a pro do the work.

4. Cedar
Do you hate the smell of mothballs? If you said “no,” you are what we scientists refer to as “a weirdo.” Cedar blocks aren’t quite as effective at combating those lightbulb-loving, cashmere-consuming insects, but they definitely help. And they make your sweaters smell like the woods instead of a chemical refinery.

5. A good tailor
Most normal humans experience weight fluctuation. Seasonal ups and downs dictate that our winter wardrobes be a little more forgiving than our summer ones. But pregnancies, lifestyle and locale/climate changes, surgeries, and other more lasting body-shapers may cause once-beloved duds to inch toward the giveaway pile. Instead, consider befriending your local tailor. Most garments can be shortened, lengthened, loosened, tightened, or otherwise adjusted to fit your fabulous bod. If you love something, don’t be too hasty about setting it free. Consult your friendly neighborhood tailor first.

So, ya know, no big surprises in either of these lists. But it never hurts to remind yourself of the many simple ways to make your wardrobe last. If you invest upfront to procure pieces you love and need, you should also be investing continually – more in time and energy than hard cash – to make sure those pieces endure. Otherwise, you’re just creating a cyclically disposable wardrobe.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I buy virtually ALL of my $3 panties at Target and certainly indulge in the occasional three-wears-before-it-disintegrates item from the TJ Maxx clearance racks. We all do! But only a tiny minority of shopping excursions should yield items that will be unwearable within months. And for wardrobe staples, absolute faves, and investment pieces, maintain ‘em, ladies. You’ll find it’s time well spent!

(Shoe polish image courtesy, cedar hearts image courtesy

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The Importance of Stuff Maintenance, Part 1

It’s a disposable world we live in … or so retailers would have us believe. Clothing, shoes, and accessories are cheap and abundant here in the U.S. of A., and we seem to like it that way. We turn a blind eye to cost-suppressing labor practices and schnarf up the low-quality, low-cost goodies. And since we can get undies for $3 a throw at Target, sundresses for $34 at H&M, and stilettos for $23 at Payless, we may not spend much effort caring for the items we ALREADY possess.

My folks spent their anniversary in Paris last year, and came back with tales of $300 men’s dress shirts and $500 women’s pencil skirts. Basics from Macy’s-equivalents were costing that much, and the ‘rents were flabbergasted. But, as many of you know, that is how it has always been outside the U.S. People expect to pay more for their garb, which causes them to take two steps that we don’t: They purchase fewer items with greater discernment, and take excellent care of the items they purchase.

I believe that if you treat your stuff like shit, you’ll have shit for stuff. Obviously, there will be unavoidable red wine mishaps and undetected invasions of ravenous moths. But more often than not, potential stuff-ruiners are completely reversible.

Below are some of my best practices for stuff maintenance. I’ll start you out with cleanliness, and follow up with repair/maintenance tomorry!

1. Palmolive
If you are not aware of the mystical powers of Palmolive, let me enlighten you: Palmolive is created from fairy dust and unicorn eyelashes. This stuff will remove recent grease, ground-in tomato, and stains of practically every type short of Sharpie. Keep a bottle at home, even if you prefer something else for washing your dishes. If you stain a non-dry cleanable, bring it home, moisten with cold water, and douse in Palmolive. Let it sit overnight or longer, then wash in the machine. You will be ASTONISHED by what this fabulous elixir can salvage.

2. Tide pens
I basically have to mummify myself in napkins if I want to avoid slobbing food all over my clothes during meals. My Tide pen is great for stain triage, and will keep a food mishap under control until I can get home, strip, and marinate the stain in Palmolive.

3. Leather cleaner
Shoe stores such as Clark’s and high-end bag retailers such as Coach will try to sell you leather cleaners and conditioners and waxes when you invest in their wares. Unless you already possess these leather condiments, plunk down the extra $20. I’m no good at religiously massaging my handbags with soft sponges and chamois, but I’ve found that minor scuffs can be miraculously healed with a timely application of conditioner.

4. Lint rollers
Show your love for your pets by carrying photos, not by showcasing their fur on your outfits. As I know only too well, the world’s most pulled-together outfit can be ruined by down-leavings from a winter parka. Keep one at work, one at home, maybe even one in your car. Lint rollers are your friends.

5. Old toothbrushes
I’ve found multitudinous unexpected for these babies. I dip them in Tarn-X to get the gunk out of sterling jewelery crevices and dunk them in shoe polish when tending to my strappy shoes. I’ve got a pair of Camper sandals lined in pale yellow satin, and by the end of each summer there is, inevitably, a grey-brown outline of my foot embedded in the fabric. A little warm water and (you guessed it) Palmolive, half an hour of toothbrush scrubbing, and an overnight dry … they’re good as new. Hang onto your old toothbrushes when you swap in a new one. You just never know when they’ll come in handy.

6. Hand wash your bras
I know, I know. Every week, as I wring the Woolite out of mine, I grumble and snarl. But I’ll tell you what: When I machined them, the all-important boob-enhancing padding that makes me the woman I am today became irreparably mooshed within three washings. Tendrils of elastic began to sprout by wash nine. My current batch is in pristine condition after a year and a half. Bras are expensive. It’s worth the annoyance to keep them wearable.

What tricks do YOU use to keep your wardrobe spotless?

(Palmolive image courtesy Kitsch, lint roller image courtesy

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Style Quote Roundup

This week, on a quest for the perfect (affordable) khaki pencil skirt, I strolled into Old Navy for the first time in about 4 years. I was dumbfounded by the total lack of cheesy Fourth of July t-shirts! I mean, isn’t that an Old Navy staple? What the heck will Americans WEAR to their BBQs and beach parties and fireworks displays today? This may go down in history as the Naked Fourth …

Anyhoodle, nobody wants to think too hard on a holiday, including me. So here’s some funny and/or thought-provoking stuff that I didn’t write. I’m going to go hang out with Husband Mike‘s abundant in-town fambly and eat baked beans and play badminton. Happy Naked Fourth!

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This shirt is “dry-clean only,” which means it’s … dirty.
~ Mitch Hedberg

Only great minds can afford a simple style.
~ Stendhal

I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.
~ Gilda Radner

A woman who cannot be ugly is not beautiful.
~Karl Kraus

If women fall over wearing heels, that’s embarrassing; but if a bloke falls over wearing heels, then you have to kill yourself.
~ Eddie Izzard

Clothes are never a frivolity: They always mean something.
~James Laver

When you meet a stranger, look at his shoes. Keep your money in your shoes.
~ Michael Stipe

Sex is a bad thing because it rumples the clothes.
~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

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