Buying clothes that are made to last is one thing, but there is a lot more you can do to make them last. We asked designers and the dry cleaners they use for advice on how to care for their clothes. And our most important takeaway is that, first and foremost, everything we wear should be enjoyed — accessorized with joy rather than fear of being ruined. Here are some expert tips for properly wearing, storing, and even cleaning your clothes to extend the life of your favorite items.
Take care of swimwear
Treat Your Delicates Like Delicates
Araks Yeramyan, the founder of Araks, is beloved for her line’s underthings and swimsuits — which she says to wash by hand and never put in the dryer. “On a few lazy occasions, I have tried putting intimates in the machine, and the elastic is never the same.” Even while traveling, she’ll pack light and hand-wash items in the shower.
Method for washing delicates at home:
- Wash like colors together.
- Fill a basin with cool water and a gentle detergent . Or in a pinch, fill the sink with water and shampoo, in her case).
- Swirl the laundry a few times over the course of an hour.
- Gently squeeze out excess water.
- Dry on a drying rack.
Rinse After Taking a Dip
“Swimwear always needs to soak in water after every use; the saltwater or chlorine breaks down the fibers and the elastic. Your suits will last much longer if you follow this rule,” said Yeramyan.
Let Everything Air Out
“Everything with elastic in it should be in a rotation, especially bras. The elastic needs to relax. In general, no matter what you do, elastic has a shelf life, but the better you take care of them the longer they will last.”
Yeramyan also recommends storing lingerie with space around it, for a little breathing room. And slipping empty perfume bottles into lingerie drawers: “The idea is it leaves a little scent behind.”
Take care of Tops
“The width of the hanger should not overpass the width of the shirt shoulders.”
Pay Close Attention to Collar Insides. Stains from skin products, such as lotion or makeup, can settle here. Make sure to wash them right away, especially before hanging shirts in the closet (scroll down for stain removal tips). Dryers should be avoided. They will break down the fibers of the fabric, causing the garment to shrink and age prematurely.
- Button the shirt completely.
- Put a plastic or cardboard band — the kind that come inside new shirts from the store, or from the cleaners — inside the collar (to help support the collar and maintain its shape.)
- With the shirt front-side down, place a sheet of paper or tissue paper on the back of the shirt before folding it (to avoid creases).
- Use soft cases, to keep the shirts in good condition.
- When piling the shirts, alternate their directions.
nsider Tip: Wrinkle-Free Traveling. “I travel with a small spray bottle, and then I fill it with water,” says Bruce Pask, Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s fashion director. “When I unpack, I just give the shirts a quick spritz and tug on the bottom of the hem, and then the wrinkles kind of come out naturally without needing to press it again.”
“Clean pants twice during the summer. And then when you’re done with the season, clean them once again before you put them back into your closet.” —Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, a department store that specializes in luxury goods.
Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s fashion director Bruce Pask recommends being mindful of the types of pants you buy in the first place to avoid high-maintenance care. “I’m not a big fan of linen pants,” he says. “I believe they are far too wrinkled and fragile.” Instead, he wears worsted wool pants in the summer and wool flannel in the winter, both of which are machine washable.
“The longer you wait to remove a stain, the less likely you’ll be able to remove it.” —Johnny Xirouchakis, general manager of Madame Paulette, a high-end, New York City cleaner.
- Wet a cloth with cold water. (Avoid using paper towels so that they don’t shed on your garment and create more of a mess.)
- Add a drop of dish detergent to the wet cloth. (Xirouchakis suggests using “a citrus-based soap — anything that smells like lemon or orange.”)
- Place another cloth beneath the stain if you can.
- Press on the stain, over and over, to lift it out. Resist the urge to rub, or you might damage the fabric.
- You can let the stain sit overnight, even in water, before putting it in the laundry. Or you can wash immediately after treating the stain.
Here experts explain how to safely remove other types of stains at home — on garments that can be washed with water. Wash the garment as usual after following each instruction.
Blood or Ink. Re-wet the stain with ice cold water using a cloth underneath the soiled area.
Dirt. Remove any mud chunks with care. Place the garment in lukewarm water and wring it out to remove as much dirt as possible. Apply detergent to the stain and re-soak for 30 minutes before rinsing and repeating.