3 Stupid Style Mistakes – Stop Doing This To Your Clothes
that even well-dressed men make.
It can be costly –
time, money, first impressions you’ll never get back.
What is it?
Having bad laundry habits.
The way you wash your clothes matters. A bad wash can make a $1000 suit look like a $150 suit due to shrinkage and fabric damage. At the same time a good-value bargain shirt can sometimes last longer than a designer-label one – as long as it’s cared for properly.
In this article you’ll learn 3 ways you’re ruining your clothes… and how to treat them properly.
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When it comes to clothing care, these are the style mistakes you want to avoid:
Every time you wash an item of clothing you age it slightly. How old a garment looks and feels basically tells you how often it’s been washed. There’s no way to completely stop this process, but you can slow it down by washing your clothes the right way.
A good place to start is to read the care labels on your clothing. They’re usually a bit overcautious – some items that read “hand wash” will be okay turned inside-out on delicate cycle, for example – so use your judgment, but they provide a good starting point.
When in doubt, go for a gentler cycle and cooler water. Washing clothes inside out is a good policy too – for delicate items like dress shirts (or for almost anything if you have an agitator washer) a laundry bag is even better.
As you read the care labels on your clothes you’ll start to develop a knowledge base with regards to the peculiarities of different fabrics.
- Synthetics can take a lot of agitation (being tossed around in the washing machine) but heat will shrink them severely.
- Cottons and linens may shrink a little, but their biggest issue is being prone to mildew – never let them sit in the machine wet.
- Wool is prone to both compression shrinkage and water damage, which is why many wool suits and sweaters are dry-clean only.
- Silk is even more sensitive – hand wash it in cold water and dry it by rolling it up in a towel to avoid water stains and heat damage.
Silk can’t be spot cleaned, but for almost all other clothes pre-treating stains is your best bet. Put cold water on the stain as soon as possible and check our 25 most common stains infographic for the appropriate cleaner to apply and the appropriate way to apply it.
In addition to following these guidelines you’ll want to use the best detergent you can. Water doesn’t clean clothes on its own – detergent contains surfactants that attach to molecules of grease and dirt at one end and are attracted to water at the other.
Using cheapo detergent on quality clothes is one of the most destructive style mistakes you can make. It can cause clothes to fade and bleed even with proper water temperature, so be selective. Pay attention to the fragrance too – you want something you can live with on both your clothes and your sheets and towels.
#2. Not Drying Clothes Properly
Take a look at your lint filter – where does all that fuzz come from? That’s right – from your clothes. Tumble drying works via heat – which sets stains and denatures fabrics – and friction – which wears down fabric and damages seams. Even if there’s no obvious wear or shrinkage, the life of the garment (and your investment in it) is being shortened.
Instead, air dry your clothes outside or on a collapsible dryer rack. If you’re using a rack you can even hang shirts on their hangers to save time putting your clothes away. Lay knitwear out flat to dry – whatever shape it dries in, that’s the shape it’s going to be when you put it on.
#3. Clothing Maintenance Style Mistakes
In addition to doing laundry correctly, proper clothing maintenance is essential to getting the most out of your investment in your wardrobe and ensuring you look your best.
Maintenance begins with storage. Some types of clothing have special needs in this department. Not knowing them is one of those style mistakes you’ll REALLY regret.
Wool suits should be hung up on cedar hangers that are large enough to stretch the whole shoulder width of the suit (a garment bag can help keep the fabric from absorbing odors and also deter damage from moths and silverfish). Knitted sweaters should be folded as few times as possible and laid flat in a drawer or chest (again, cedar is ideal). Leather should be kept away from heat and conditioned every 3-6 months.
Clothing maintenance also includes repair. As we go about our lives clothes inevitably incur damage now and then. A man should know how to:
- Fix a loose/unraveling thread: Cut the thread down with scissors and quickly (and carefully) pass a lighter over the end to keep it from unraveling further. A small drop of Super Glue on the inner side of the seam is another alternative that will completely stop the thread from moving.
- Reinforce a loose button: Use our step-by-step guide to sewing on a loose button.
- Deal with a small tear: Turn the raw edges of the rip inward so they don’t show on the surface of the garment. If it’s an emergency, you can leave it like this and unless the fabric is very slippery it’s unlikely anyone will ever know. For a permanent fix, use an iron-on patch on the inside, again, folding in the raw edges of the tear.
Choose quality clothes and treat them well, and they’ll return the favor for years to come. It’s tempting to just throw those dress shirts into a normal cycle or chuck that sweater in the dryer – I get it, you’re busy. But the fact is if you slow down and take the time to care for your wardrobe properly it WILL show – and if you don’t…well, that will show too.
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