How I Care for my Clothes

A few simple practices have allowed me to keep my clothes fresh-looking, well-maintained, and wearable for many years. Besides learning to recognize good fabrics and quality brands, these care tips are how I stretch the lifespan of my clothes.

  • I wash all my clothes in cold water in the machine. Workout clothes, sweaters, undergarments, and washable hand-knits are all put in. If I have to hand-wash, I still use cold water.
  • I turn anything with lace, a printed design, or other appliques inside out to prevent fading and fraying. Like this Xhiliration dress from Target.

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  • I also turn my dark denim inside out to prevent fading and bleeding onto other objects. Like this Ann Taylor Loft pencil skirt

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  • I put all bras, fancier undergarments, and hand-knit socks in these mesh lingerie bags from Target. They sell for under $2 and are great to have on hand. I also place any garment with long ties, such as this teal shirt, so that the ties won’t get wrapped and stretched during the wash.

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  • If it’s not a casual tee shirt, workout clothes, plain underwear, or jeans, then it gets air dried. This might be why my clothes stay fresh for so long. This does mean my drying rack is overflowing and there are sweaters drying on towels on top of the machine. But when I remember that lint is frayed fibers from your clothes, I am happy to take this step to ensure that my items don’t wither away bit by bit. If my clothes seem to have dust or fibers on them, I use a lint roller, which is much gentler.
  • I hang most of my clothes on appropriate, sturdy hangers. If I feel that a dress is especially drapey and heavy, I will take its weight off the straps by looping the skirt of the dress back up over the hanger. This helps it keep its shape longer.
  • I don’t fold my hand-knit socks in each other, because this stretches out the yarn and I find that the sock that was folded over the other tends to fit looser around my ankle. Commercial socks with more nylon can handle this.
  • I put on and remove my clothes carefully. This means not tugging at sweaters, pulling up my jeans by the belt loops, or taking off my shoes by pressing the back of the heel down (like the picture below). I unzip, unlace, and unclip everything.

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My go-to brands for quality and longevity are Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft, Mossimo (Target) for shoes, Take Out (Kohls) for cardigans, Hanes Concealing Petals for bras, and C9 (Target) for activewear. If a cotton item (like tees and jeans) is very soft, I usually won’t buy it because it doesn’t tend to hold up. I avoid slub knit fabric because it pills unevenly and looks “tired” very fast. My most tenacious purchases have been a pair of cardigans by Take Out (at Kohls) which are a cotton and acrylic blend. They are nothing fancy, upscale, or even very soft, but I’ve worn them at least once a week for the past four years and they are still good as gold. So sometimes you can find surprises, although two Take Out pullovers I bought the same year lasted just one season because they pilled immediately

I hope these tips help you with the care of your wardrobe.

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The Mindset

I’m knitting my first garment, if it can be called that. It’s the Tulip Tank Top from Purl Bee, which is a scant short-row front crossed behind the back and finished with thin straps and a slightly cowled front. I blocked my Hemlock Ring Blanket and the dried octopus blocked out to a larger dried octopus. The edges don’t lie flat and I don’t know what I did wrong. It’s rumpled on the back of the couch right now, looking rumpled-squared just because of it’s horridness. I have to read up on frogging and reusing blocked yarn because that’s the only redeeming action I can think of to do with it. Our placemats are in the wash, and I couldn’t even throw it on the table.

These (the blanket and the tank) have been my longest projects in recent memory. I’ve been dreading picking up the needles and sliding the sticky cotton back and forth in short rows until I started picturing the end result. Back at school, in a chic, unique top. Washing it carefully in the utility sink in the basement, answering questions from passerby on what this special item is that demands the attention of a lost art (hand washing). I do this when I work out, too. Ab lines, sculpted hips, and firm triceps dance in my head when I’m neck deep in Pilates.

If anyone is wondering, this magic stops once the item is finished. No amount of wistful imagination is fixing the dried octopus blanket.