Why don’t we ever extend the sentiment of Valentines Day past romanic love?
When I lived in Bengaluru India there was a festival I experienced called Ayudha Puja, where people would celebrate tools and implements used in daily life. These items are treated with utmost care, respect, and love as they represented an element of self, a path of financial security and a dedication of time. As a passionate advocate of the transformative and humanising power of love I wonder why we can’t extend the passion and caring of Valentines Day to the things we use on a daily basis? This Valentines Day I think all us fashion-loving-folk can put some heart into caring for our clothing evoking some of the respect shown in Ayudha Puja for closet items that serve us well. After all, these little bits of cloth and trim keep our bodies warm and protected and offer us full creative license on how we want to be interpreted by others. The least we can do for them (and their makers) is to take good care of them while they are in our lives. The following are a collection of ways that you can show your clothes some kindness.
Wash with love.
It can be pretty easy to overlook the care instructions for our items. We are all busy people who probably don’t have the time to leisurely peruse our garments care labels every time we put on a load of laundry. However it’s important to know how to care best for our fashion in order to get the longest lifespan our of our clothes. Caring for clothes starts from washing up and moves forwards. These dot points should help with the process.
- Before you wash ask yourself ‘do I really need to wash this item’. Sometimes a good airing or some sun is enough to remove odours and freshen up fabrics. The sun naturally ‘bleaches’ fabrics and can kill a lot (not all) odour causing bugs.
- Get a vague idea of what your clothes are made from. For most part natural fibres that aren’t animal based (like Wool and Silk) can be machine washed but check the tag.
- Wool and Silk will likely need a different speciality detergent and normally prefer hand wash. Check garment care labels.
- Semi Synthetics like Rayon, Viscose, Tencel, and Modal will be dependant on the care label. However its important to note that some of these types of fabrics will shrink in the spin cycle of your washing machine even if the tag says they can be spun dry. Spin with caution (I’ve learned my lesson and just let them drip dry now to be on the safe side).
- Synthetic weaves or jersey knits can usually be washed in the machine. If you have a chunky synthetic knit or something prone to shedding or pilling try to reduce the number of washes to prevent these little micro plastics from ending up in the ocean. If you can, use a pilling comb to remove the loose pill balls before washing and put them in the rubbish bin.
Storing with heart.
Are you guilty of throwing your clothes in a pile on the floor? I know I am. In fact I have around ten items sitting all crumpled up on a stool next to me as I type. We all get busy from time to time and sometimes our clothes go a little unloved as a result of our hectic schedules. If this is something that rings true to you try these storage suggestions on for size. I might even take my own advice and tidy up my clothing mess once this post is written.
- Find a way to work with your habitual patterns to create a more organised space. Check out where your clothes end up. If you have a pile of transient items (you know… the ones you plan to wear again during the week) the create a basket, box, chair, or other storage solution that identifies them from the rest of your possessions.
- Set a day and time in your diary or phone to go through this pile once a week and sort it out. Decide what needs to go back in the closet, what can be aired and stored, and what needs washing.
- Your knits shouldn’t be hung up as it stretches them out of shape. Folded and on a shelf is preferable.
- Hang items that are woven and made from easily crushed fabrics to save yourself ironing time and keep the drape and shape pristine.
- Make sure that wool and other natural fibres that may be susceptible to bugs or mildew safe by using natural bug and mildew deterrents and by storing in bug proof container when not in regular use.
- Clean leather regularly. If you wear or use leather items be sure to use a leather protector on them (there are some great natural bees wax ones around) to keep them soft, supple and pristine. This is not applicable to Vegan readers, just those who choose leather for it’s longevity and durability.
Killed with kindness?
Have you literally loved your items to death? It can be near impossible to find an item to replace one of your high rotation favourites so fixing or transforming it is usually a great way to hold on a little longer. The following are some ideas and tips on what you might want to do with your ol’ faves.
- Take your shoes, bags and belts for a second opinion. If you have accessories like this that look like they may be on their last days take them to a cobbler or leather crafts person and see what they can do for you. While it might be expensive to have items repaired if you factor in the hours of research you will do to get the right replacement, wear in time, and the possibility of getting it wrong, it’s usually more cost effective to repair than replace. It’s also WAY better for the planet.
- Learn how to sew on a button. How many items are sitting in your closet out of action because the button is missing? There’s at least one right? Having some introductory hand sewing skills can be life changing. Have a Google to find a YouTube tutorial on how to fix the repairs dilemma that you have on your hands.
- Can you make a bad situation good? Sometimes damaged or outgrown items can be made better by rethinking their use. If your shirt no longer fits you can always tie it around your waist as an accessory (this is ideal for keeping skirts in check on windy days), a t-shirt with bleach damaged sleeves can be turned into a raw hem tank by taking a pair of scissors to it. Got a jersey dress that has seen better days? You can rip it up and use it to make a necklace.
- Donate items that you no longer use. If your clothing is out of circulation because it no longer fits your body or your lifestyle then donate it! Your discarded goodies might make someone else’s day. If they are damaged search for fabric recycling facilities near you. There is a good chance there will be at least one place that takes torn or damaged textiles (usually for industrial rags).
- Love your items flaws and all. While this might be a no-brainer for some folks, embracing the old can be a little daunting in a fast fashion world that champions ‘new and shiny’. I know from personal experience that I feel fabulous in my ‘old’ and ‘worn in’ faves until I happen to find myself in a fast fashion store. Why? Because my old faves suddenly make me feel like I’m an uncut diamond in a sea of shiny flawless gems. To resolve this feeling of inadequacy my suggestion is to avoid going into temples to consumerism. The funniest part is that more often that not your ‘old faves’ will spark conversations in fancy ‘new’ retail stores because they are unique and do stand out. So be proud of the effort that went into wearing your items to perfect imperfection as new is much easier to find in our consumer crazed society than old is and many ‘new’ fast fashion items aren’t built to last to old age.