As a skint girl you know that taking good care of your clothes is a no-brainer, but it can seem like a drag compared to the instant thrill of buying something new. Nonetheless, if you want to keep that cute little blouse or fabulous vintage cardi looking as chic and stylish as the day you fell in love with them, proper maintenance is a must. Armed with the know-how, doing your own clothing repairs and keeping your duds stain-free can be a real pleasure. Don’t believe me? Just wait till you’ve replaced that zip in your favourite skirt that’s been busted for a year. You never got round to taking it the tailor’s, right? Me neither. Who can find the time to schlep across town to drop it off, then make the same trip days later to collect it? Plus, the repair will cost £10 at least, plus travel: a third of the price of a new skirt. Just wait till you’re replacing your own zip from the comfort of your couch whilst watching a DVD – and all for the princely sum of £2.
Here’s a lowdown on keeping your clothes as good as new.
So many problems, so little time! When it comes to clothes maintenance it seems there’s always something to be done. I confess to having stuck hems up with sellotape when in a hurry – not so stylish because they invariably come unstuck at a particularly embarrassing moment. To avoid those tape-on-a-hot-date tangles, try to tackle repairs as they come up. You know, a stitch in time and all that … Here are some of the most common repairs that you can cheaply and easily do at home.
Defluffing 1: You know how it is: you bought a beautifully soft jumper and now it’s covered in pesky little balls. That’s no reason to bin it though: what you need is a razor. Pull the fabric tight and lightly draw the razor over it, cleaning the blade as you go.
Defluffing 2: Another sneaky tissue found its way into the wash, leaving your dark clothes covered in white fluff? You can buy purpose-made sticky rollers for this defluffing job but I prefer the satisfaction of winding a massive chunk of sticky tape round my hand and pat-pat-patting till the fluff’s all gone. Kids love doing this job too – they’ll happily tackle a big pile in return for a packet of crisps.
Zip it: Zips have a shelf life that is sadly often shorter than that of their host garments. If you’re a fan of vintage you’ll be very familiar with this problem: old zips become sticky and then slowly grind to a halt. Skint girls learn how to mend their own. The web is a wonder for learning new skills. For an online tutorial log onto www.youtube.com and type ‘replacing zips’ into the search box, or try www.videojug.com, which tells you how to do just about everything in the world. If you’re in a mad rush, with no time to replace a zip, try rubbing a sharpened pencil up and down the stuck part. The graphite in pencil lead acts as a lubricant, buying you some time till you can do a proper repair.
Shoe repair: When it comes to footwear, even skint girls ought to be well-heeled. Getting your shoes and boots heeled as soon as they need it and resoling boots when they start to look thin can prolong the life of your footwear by years. If a sole is coming away slightly I’ve always found a dab of superglue to suffice. To keep heels looking as good as new, paint on a coat of clear nail varnish when you buy them. This stops heels scuffing and it isn’t noticeable.
Weatherproof: Leather shoes, bags and anything else that was once a living thing still deserves TLC. Spray leather when you buy it to protect from rain and those ugly salt stains and then feed with leather cream every now and then, or good old-fashioned Vaseline.
Dye it: Love the cut but hate the colour? If that lemon top looks so last season, just pop it in the wash with a packet of dye. Choose your colour, chuck in a couple of your craggy greying towels too and you’re good to go! Be sure to match the dye to your fabric: check out www.fibrecrafts.co.uk for a range of dyes appropriate to just about every fabric under the sun. When an item is made of mixed fibres you need to take extra care: the AlterEgo dye range by Dupont is the best I’ve found for dying mixed-fibre items.
In the next post I’ll discuss the most common clothes stains and how to deal with them.
Skint in the City writes about living the stylish life on a shoestring budget, such as how to buy Pucci and decorate apartments even when you’re living on a starter’s salary. Mixing down-to-earth personal finance with tips on budget style, entertaining and home styling, Skint in the City is for those who haven’t given up on their dreams of living the stylish life – even if their budget’s currently tighter than their skinny jeans.