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How To Make Your Clothes and Shoes Last

Updated on July 27, 2012


Although it takes a little extra time to take proper care of your clothes and shoes, it is of utmost importance. It's tragic when you have to part with your favorite pair of shoes or beloved coat too soon, but anything that is an investment requires a certain amount of TLC. Lavish your garment with attention and love, and it will be loyal forever.

Fashion History 101: Manufacturers began sewing care instructions into clothes during World War II (the golden age of economizing) because proper care makes an enormous difference in the longevity of your garments.
Fashion History 101: Manufacturers began sewing care instructions into clothes during World War II (the golden age of economizing) because proper care makes an enormous difference in the longevity of your garments.


Avoid washing your garments too frequently. Doing so puts a lot of wear and tear on your clothes. Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to walk around wearing smelly and dirty things. It just isn't necessary to put items in a machine every time that it is worn.

Be especially prudent with delicate, stretchy, or intensely colored fabrics. Read the care label.

It helps if you:

  • Turn your dark-rinse jeans inside out before washing
  • Keep like colors together
  • Use lingerie bags for undergarments, sweaters, stockings, tank tops, and any delicate knits. Hand washing is the best way to clean your delicate, but who has time for that? A lingerie bag, mild detergent, the gentle cycle on your washing machine, and cold water should be enough
  • Always dry delicates and knits flat
  • Air dry whenever possible.


Don't wear the same pair everyday. Alternating your pairs allows time for shoes to dry between wearing. Even if they aren't visibly wet, your feet do produce moisture. It's an unpleasant thought, but hey, we're all human, and sometimes our feet cry, too.

Shoe Care

Here are a few rules to live by to add years to the life of your shoes:

  • Don't wear the same pair everyday
  • Apply a sealant or clear polish to new shoes to protect them from elements.
  • Put heel savers on your shoes before they are worn down
  • Keep them clean and gently brush off dirt before you put them away
  • Use shoe trees to preserve your shoe shape and always store knee-high boots fully zipped

For those who live in colder climates where it snows and where salt is routinely scattered on walkways, wipe down shoes with a soft, moist rag when you return home. Nothing crack leather faster than salt.

There Something About Suede

Suede is gorgeous and oh so luxe, but it doesn't wear as well as smooth leather. It requires more maintenance and care. Once suede starts looking worn, there's no going back.


Try to inspect your clothing regularly for holes, stains, snags, etc. to catch these little problems before they are put in the washer and become big problems later to save yourself the stress.

The sooner you take care of these problems, the easier it is to avert disasters later and mishaps in the middle of the workday.

Consult your tailor when in doubt. He should be one among your best friends. Mending an article is still less expensive than replacing it.

In the Know: Wired

No wire hangers. They are terrible for clothes. They ruin the shape of shoulders that over time are difficult to get rid off.

Wire Hanger: Evil
Wire Hanger: Evil


Never put anything away for the season without having it cleaned first. Dry clean your winter coats before storing them, even if it doesn't seem like they need it. Coats, sweaters, and jackets are exposed to the elements all winter, and the remaining dirt eats away at the fibers.

Having properly cared for, mended, and stored your items, you may now pamper yourself, spend time with friends, and splurge occasionally.

When you make your wardrobe last, it is easy to rein in your spending, without feeling deprived.

Read: Style Strategy for the Recessionista Fashionista

Nina Garcia, the formidable judge of Project Runway, wonderfully explains these tips and more, including some personal style tips in her book The Style Strategy.


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    • Natsky13 profile image

      Natsky13 5 years ago

      Hand washing is definitely best, but with my toddler and work, it's just almost impossible to find time!

      Thank you for dropping by soconfident and Dolores!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Great tips on how to make your clothes and shoes last - so important in these tough economic times. My mother's clothes lasted forever and stayed in great shape, never faded. She hand washed most of her blouses and dresses!

    • soconfident profile image

      Derrick Bennett 5 years ago

      Great useful tips, I've saif the same thing time and time again. People really don't pay attention to the label which is one reason why they don't last as long as they should.