How to Care for Your Clothes | Smock Peplum Top and Denim Shorts
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Part of the problem with buying fast fashion is that it encourages a sense of disposability because it’s so cheap and new trendy items are always popping up. Telling someone to please quit fast fashion isn’t always the right thing to do because that comes from a place of privilege that not everyone has. If you’re like me, and you amassed a decent chunk of fast fashion items in your wardrobe, it wouldn’t be sustainable to throw it all out and fill the landfill, just because of the label. So what can we do instead?
Since my shopping ban, I’ve been leaning more towards encouraging people to view their current fast fashion items in a different way. Instead of looking at them and thinking that they’re dispensable, view them just as you would expensive, made-to-last pieces and they will go a LOT farther than these fast fashion companies would have you believe. If you have a $5 tee shirt from Forever 21 that you wear for several years, not only is that better for the environment, it’s cost-effective for you too. Not only that, it sends a message to the fast fashion brand that made the tee in the first place that you won’t be spending a lot of money at their stores which will hopefully get them to reevaluate their manufacturing practices.
How do you go about this? Well, my way is to figure out how to make your clothes last:
Learn the Laundry Symbols
Ever notice those symbols on the tags of your clothes? The day I learned what all those symbols meant was the day that my relationship with doing laundry changed! When you know around what temperature and under what conditions certain clothes need to be washed for optimal usage, the longer the clothes actually last! They also tend to include other recommendations like what temperature to iron your clothes in, how to dry your clothes, and whether or not you can use bleach on it. Here’s a handy graphic for you in case you’re not familiar with what these symbols mean.
Speaking of laundry, it’s better to avoid washing your clothes at all when you can help it. I know that sounds really gross and I’m not saying don’t wash your clothes at all! I’m just encouraging you guys to think about what happens when you put your clothes in the washing machine - the colors tend to fade, any elastics tend to stretch out, and your clothes will tend to fall apart more quickly. As a Korean, I’m blessed with a weird gene that makes my sweat not smell so I can get away with more wears between washes but if you’re like Brian, I would take off your clothes immediately when you get home and maybe aim for about three wears before washing.
Figure out Storage
Clothes tend to fade quickly when stored in a place with overexposure to sunlight, or damp, cold places. It tends to do well when stored with some breathing room which is good for you too because you’ll see fewer wrinkles, and far less color fading due to clothes rubbing up against each other all the time. I’ve found Marie Kondo’s folding methods to be perfect for the clothes I put away - not only do they look neat and organized stored vertically, it prevents mess.
Get better Hangers
For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why all the clothes in my closet that I hung were getting stretched out and loose. Then I discovered wooden hangers and they were game changers! Wire and plastic hangers have a tendency to stretch out your clothes, especially in the shoulder area. Wooden hangers, while more expensive, won’t make your clothes all saggy and they’ll make not only your clothes last longer, but they themselves will last longer too.
When in Doubt, Mend it Out
As I said earlier that fast fashion breeds a disposable mentality. I’m definitely guilty of that and it’s only this year that I have trained myself not to think of my clothes as things to be thrown away at the slightest imperfection. Instead, I learned basic mending techniques! Obviously, sewing buttons back on is a big one but also patching up holes in your t-shirts, needling back rips at seams, even figuring out how to clean my handbags was a huge step. There are plenty of free classes online for those who want to learn basic sewing or mending techniques so I encourage you all to look them up!