From using cedar wood coat hangers to restoring your favourite handbags – fashion editor Harriet Davey gives her top tips on how to make your clothes last longer.
As a fashion editor I have a lot of clothes – too many, in fact. I always have a clear out each time I organise my wardrobe and do the seasonal switch, giving unwanted clothes to friends, family, charity shops and last year I attended my first Battersea car boot sale. This was quite the experience (tip: take reinforcements, you’ll need all the backup you can get). There are some items however, I just can’t part with, so along the years I’ve discovered ways to make them last longer to give them some more love.
One of the best buys I’ve ever made is a handheld steamer. Not only do I use it every single day for my outfits, it’s also so handy for me to take on shoots and small enough to pack in hand luggage to take abroad. The steamer stops me from having to use an iron which is more damaging to fabric, making clothes last longer. I also genuinely believe steamers get the creases out quicker and easier than an iron with less effort needed to construct an ironing board.
I’ve also recently looked to a fabric shaver to make the coat I’ve worn all winter look like new – now I’ll be able to wear it next year, too. Add to this handbag restoration door-to-door services and the everlasting joys of the humble vacuum bags and I’ve compiled my top tips on how to make clothes and accessories last longer to reuse and recycle your favourite items.
1. Use a steamer instead of an iron (you can thank me later)
I invested in a steamer about four years ago, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Never a fan of ironing, I prefer to de-crease my clothes as I go along each day instead, so a handheld steamer is ideal. The Philips Steam & Go is the one that I have, they should give me commission based on how many people I’ve recommended it to!
It has quite a small water tank so it can only steam a couple of items at a time but it’s powerful so you don’t actually have to touch the fabric with the plate. While ironing can take its toll on clothes – and if you’re bad at it, then create holes – steaming is more gentle on the items so less damage overall.
The handheld size also makes it so good to travel with – I was probably the only person to pack a steamer whilst travelling around South-east Asia and staying in hostels in 2017. I didn’t regret taking it, and everyone ended up wanting to borrow it.
This steamer not only looks super sleek, you can also steam clothes while they’re hanging or flat on a surface.
2. Invest in a fabric shaver to banish those bobbles
My favourite coat started to have so many bobbles where my handbag strap had rubbed, it was beginning to look too scruffy to wear. Investing in a fabric shaver is the easiest way to get rid of them, without having to pull them off one by one. Steamery has easy-to-use handheld fabric shavers that can be charged with a USB so they’re perfect for on-the-go, too.
Simply run it over your coat, knitwear or any other items with bobbles and it’ll take them off without actually damaging your clothing. It even works on bed linen. Note: Steamery is also a go-to when it comes to handheld steamers.
The fabric shaver comes with a handy USB charger and removes fabric pills without damaging the material.
3. Give old handbags some love and get them restored
One of my favourite items in my wardrobe is my Celine bag I got around six years ago. So much so, I used it nearly everyday and wore the poor thing out. Luckily, the Handbag Clinic came to the rescue and introduced me to their service that specialises in restoring bags of any kind. From cleaning and stain removal to fixing zips and stitching – they do the lot.
All you have to do is go online at the handbagclinic.co.uk, tell them what you need and send a few pictures to get a quote. The door-to-door collection and delivery service means you don’t even have to leave the house to get your handbags restored. My Celine bag came back a few weeks ago and it looks like new – no scuffs, broken zips or worn out leather to be seen. Highly recommend to give your loved bags a new lease of life.
4. Cedar wood rings want to hang out in your wardrobe
Cedar wood is the natural pest repellent that will help deter moths from entering your wardrobe and destroying your clothes. Arket stocks a version you can hook over your hangers (avoid touching the fabrics as they can leave a greasy mark) and they’ll also make your wardrobe smell nice.
A pack of 10 is only £5 – once the scent wears off you can simply sand them down to make them smell like new again. They’ll last you a long time, trust me.
The fragrance of the cedar wood will act as a natural pest repellent – put them in your wardrobe and dressing rooms.
Note: they smell so good, too.
5. Vacuum-sealed bags are your friend
If you haven’t got these already, then you need to. Vacuum-sealed bags will not only save you space, they also keep your clothes fresher while they’re in storage.
I use them when I’m doing the wardrobe switch so I can keep all the clothes I’m not wearing that season in a compact space. Living in different houses in London, I’ve also realised vacuum-sealed bags stop any mould or musty smells from getting into your clothes. They’re a life saver, and IKEA has a two pack for just £3 – cheaper than my morning Pret coffee.
The best £3 you’ll ever spend, get these vacuum bags to not only save space but to keep clothes fresh when they’re in storage.
6. Hanging dehumidifiers will reduce damp getting into clothes
I’ve only used these the last few years after discovering some damp in my rented house, but now I can’t be without them. The small empty bags with a hanger to place in your wardrobe remove moisture in the air by collecting it. This stops your clothes from getting damp, mould and mildew on them so will keep them in better condition, for longer. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they fill up.
Hang these in your wardrobe, back of your doors or anywhere out of sight and they’ll collect all the excess moisture in your rooms.
7. Get rid of metal hangers in your wardrobe
I used to use a lot of metal hangers but I found that they often misshaped my clothes. Shoulders would end up with dented fabric that wouldn’t steam out and they can damage delicate fabrics. Instead, switch to wooden, padded or velvet styles. A way to keep them all neatly in your wardrobe and to save space is with these clever multi hangers. I put these on Instagram and I’ve never had so many messages asking where something is from. They’re from Amazon and they’re aptly named ‘magic hangers’, you’ll soon see why.
Sort your clothes into categories and use these hanging strips to group. You can hang vertical or horizontal depending on how much space you have. They’re a real game-changer.
Opening image: Unsplash
Other images: courtesy of Instagram and brands