Protect Your 10 Priciest Style Investments
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Take Care1 of 11
By Mariel Goodson
No matter how much you spend on designer sunglasses or a cashmere sweater, clothes rarely come with a lifetime warranty. Luckily, you can get more wear out of your most prized pieces by treating them with a little TLC. From preserving the wash of your favorite jeans to restoring a shrunken wool sweater, we've rounded up helpful tips for protecting your priciest sartorial investments.
True Blue2 of 11
Before throwing your new jeans in the wash, determine whether the fade was achieved using indigo, a natural dye that's notorious for fading and bleeding into other fabrics. If the label doesn't indicate either way, "Rub a white napkin on the fabric—if any dye comes off you know your jeans will bleed," says Steve Boorstein of The Clothing Doctor. Dry cleaning is the best bet to preserve the indigo hue, but if you're strapped for cash, turn the jeans inside out and wash in a short cycle in cold water with similar or darker colors.
Wax On3 of 11
Admit it: Between this summer's beach outings and music festivals, your favorite pair of shades got nicked once (or five times). Soften scratches on sunglasses by squirting a small amount of car wax onto a cotton ball and rubbing it on each lens in a circular motion. Remove excess product with a lint-free microfiber cloth—the kind that came with your shades—and repeat if necessary. "For allover shine, a mixture of one-part water, two-parts baking soda works best," says Whitney Moorman of Sunglass Warehouse.
White Out4 of 11
Keep your crisp white cotton shirts immaculate by spot-checking under bright light after every wear. Water-based stains—think: sweat, blood, soda and coffee—feature a faint ring around the perimeter and should be pre-treated immediately with detergent and water, before soaking in diluted non-chlorinated bleach to ensure the stain is lifted. An oily stain—like butter, cooking oil or greasy beauty products—has a more defined border. "Most oil-based stains need to be dry cleaned," warns Boorstein, since few home machines heat up enough to fully break down the spot.
What a Pill5 of 11
You'll be wearing a lot of your cozy sweaters come fall, so keep in mind that "thick Shetland wools are notorious for pilling," whereas merino and cashmere feature a flat surface that doesn’t get roughed up as easily, explains Boorstein. To depill a sweater, use a battery-operated shaver. Just be wary of the amount of pressure you apply to avoid shearing off too much material. To foil fuzz in the first place, mist high-friction areas with an anti-static spray, "which creates a Teflon-like outer layer," adds Boorstein.
Hide Time6 of 11
Just one stroll in the snow can turn your stylish boots into a chalky mess. Safeguard expensive leather shoes from salt, slush and watermarks with stain-repellent nanotechnology, which won't affect the way the material breathes, says David Mesquita of Leather Spa. If your shoes do get spattered, use a cream cleaner within 24 hours to keep the stain from fully sinking in. Splotches on suede or nubuck can be lifted with a special eraser buff.
Hit a Snag7 of 11
To disguise a snag in delicate fabrics and knits, use the end of a paperclip to push the dangling piece of fabric back through the garment, so it's hidden. "What you'll see on the outside is just a nub instead of the loose thread," says Boorstein. When fabric is pulled tight into a zigzag, you'll need to rely on the power of a well-placed pin or brooch.
Shape Up8 of 11
When a pricey purse gets soaked in a rainstorm, stuff it with newspaper to absorb water and prevent the leather from warping and contorting, suggests Mesquita. Let the bag air-dry away from a heat source—which can over-dry the hide—and replace wet newspaper as needed. "Once dry, work in a leather conditioner to soften the skin," he says.
Sweater Smarts9 of 11
"Even if you only wear something once, you deposit body oils, perspiration, perfume and dead skin cells, which provide plenty of food for insects," says Boorstein. Discourage moths from making a meal out of cashmere pieces by hand washing them in tepid water with baby shampoo and laying flat to air-dry. Then stow each sweater in a breathable muslin bag with cedar blocks to deter pests. If you notice a hole, use a repair kit to patch the gap at home.
On the Spot10 of 11
Bows, beads and sequins look great, but make sure you know how they're attached before you attempt to clean. "If embellishments are affixed using wax or glue, they'll often dissolve when washed or dipped in solvent," says Boorstein. Play it safe by asking your dry cleaner to spot-treat individual stains instead of cleaning the whole garment. Machine-washable pieces with hand-sewn adornments can be turned inside out and laundered in a zippered mesh bag in cold water using the gentle cycle.
Home Stretch11 of 11
Chances are when you tossed your cute sweater in the dryer, you didn't plan on turning it into a belly-baring top. Restore shrunken wool with a technique called wet blocking. Soak the piece in warm water with detergent to relax tight-knit fibers, then roll in a thick towel to sop up moisture. Using the shape of a well-fitting sweater as your guide, lay the shrunken sweater on a flat surface and carefully stretch it out until you get the right proportions. Air-dry and check the shape every ten minutes.