The backbone of a sustainable wardrobe is quality garments that last, and the key to longevity is garment care. Putting a bit of love into the items you carefully select to incorporate into your wardrobe will not only ensure that you always look neat and put together but will allow you to get as much wear out of the garment as possible.
KNOW YOUR FABRICS
Decoding your fabrics isn’t as puzzling as you might think and treating them in the right way to ensure longevity in your garments. A basic guide- synthetic fabrics like rayon, nylon and viscose all hate heat (this can shrink or distort the fabric) but can withstand a washing machine easy-peasy. Natural fibres like linen and cotton are pretty low maintenance, a machine is fine and they can tolerate heat although long term these fibres will soften so a cold wash will maintain a near-new condition for longer. Lastly light constructions like silk, knits, lace and chiffon have a strict hand wash-only policy but don’t fret- this isn’t a scary task (read on to find out more).
So a no-brainers guide is that a cold wash is better for your fabrics but also the environment, using less electricity through the cycle. Speaking of which, dryers are a no-go. Although most fabrics except delicates will withstand a whirl in the dryer, unless you live in an especially congested place hanging them out to dry will cause far less damage to the fibres (and significantly reduce your energy bill). Hanging them outside is certainly the ideal- sunlight is just about as effective at killing bacteria and lifting stains as any detergent but if this isn’t possible a clotheshorse indoors is just as good to air out the garment.
HAND WASHING ISN’T AS HARD AS YOU THINK
Hand washing has developed a bit of a stigma for being difficult but in actual fact it’s just as easy as throwing anything in the machine. For a detailed step-by-step I created this tutorial with NATALIJA the Label and her gorgeous silk collection.
Basically all you need to do is fill a tub with cool water and a small drop of gentle detergent, drop in your delicates and leave for 5 minutes or so. When you get back swirl the water around then rise the garment out. A little knack for getting rid of excess water before hanging the item is to roll it up in a dry towel first to remove the majority of the water. Air dry the rest and it is ready to wear.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Despite your best efforts clumsy moments can always arise, particularly when there is a very colourful food or beverage nearby. Nothing is worse than losing a beautiful garment to a spill so over time I’ve built up a few little tricks to erase life’s little mistakes.
Dishwashing detergent for oil stains and oil based makeup – this will break up the oils in the formula like magic.
Bi-carb soda for refreshing whites. Far kinder to your fabrics and our waterways this works a treat on yellowed clothing and bedlinen. Run your machine cycle at 30-40 degrees and throw in a few tablespoons of bi carb. Hang in the sun afterwards to lift that bright white even more.
Keep baby wipes in either your handbag or glovebox to get onto food spills asap, the alcohol will lift the stain before you wash, the longer it sits the longer it will stay.
Lastly, consider repair before tossing a garment. If sewing is not your forte outsource to a crafty friend or dressmaker. Holes, over stretched fabric and missing buttons can all be resurrected to give a second life to your clothing. For a quick guide how to reattach a button read this tutorial I created in partnership with NATALIJA.
The key to sustainability in fashion is thinking long term, selecting the right garment is the first step but the rest is in caring for the item to get the most out of it. I have really grown to enjoy my weekend ritual of tending to the garments I so carefully selected and it has really helped me to appreciate their worth.