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How To Give Clothes A Longer Lease On Life

Some clothing seems to be a bit like fast-food these days—quick and disposable. Why sink more money into fashion that’s not built to last? Try the alternative: Invest in quality garments and take greater care of the items you already have. Your wallet (and the environment) will thank you. Here are some great ways to save money by extending the life of your clothes: 

• Learn to make basic clothing repairs, such as replacing buttons, fixing straps or hemming pants. You’ll hang on to a garment longer and save on alteration and mending fees.

• Add to hems: Children grow out of clothes so quickly and often “up” instead of “out”. If an item still fits—apart from pant or shirt cuffs that are suddenly looking like a flood is coming—try sewing a coordinating or contrasting piece of fabric, lace, wide ribbon or fringe to the edge of hems. Your child will rock a stylish, one-of-a-kind piece that also saves you money (and repeated trips to the store).

• Spruce them up: There’s no need to buy a whole new wardrobe every time the season changes. Refresh tired outfits and basic quality pieces with some judicious spending on one or two trendy items, such as affordable Joe FreshExternal link® clothes, shoes and accessories. 

• Embrace the imperfect: It’s inevitable that clothing receives the occasional tear, snag or stain. Instead of tossing away damaged clothes, consider learning some basic embellishment techniques, such as applique, embroidery and mending using colourful threads or patches (it’s really not hard!). You’ll add character and charm to something you previously wanted to hide. An online search for “visible mending” might even make you wish you had more unplanned holes in your jeans or sweaters. 

• Encourage hand-me-downs: Don’t let clothes from your eldest slip out of your hands without first considering if they can be modified and made appealing to a younger sibling. Decorative patches or iron-on transfers, a quick nip of the waistband, dye job or any of the other tips above might give the item a second life, doubling (or more) the return on your clothing budget. 

• Care for them properly: Unless an item is visibly dirty or smells, there is absolutely no need to wash it every time it’s worn. Really! Over-washing is a sure-fire way to wear out a garment faster than necessary; the same is true of dry cleaning. When you do wash something, follow the care label, use a garment bag for delicates, avoid using too much detergent or water that’s too hot for the fabric, wash dark clothing inside out, and don’t overstuff your machine. Line drying is also easier on clothes and your pocketbook. Also learn how to fold a shirt, or how to fold your jeans to keep them looking newer, longer. 

Store items with care—cool, dry and dark spaces are best. Heavy items like sweaters should be folded and stored on a shelf rather than on hangers where they could get stretched out or otherwise misshapen.

With a bit of thought and minimal effort, it’s easy to make the most of your wardrobe simply by appreciating and caring for what you already have. Find more tips for maximizing your clothing budget hereExternal link.