How to Make Your Clothing Last

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Proper care can go a long way toward extending a garment's life.

Caring for clothes properly is central to the slow fashion movement. Unless we view garments as an investment, worthy of maintenance and careful laundering, they will not last as long as they could. Over the years we've shared plenty of tips on how to take care of our clothes, but apparently we haven't covered them all. A wonderful article in the Guardian shares advice from fashion experts on "how to keep your favourite clothes for ever – from laundering to moth-proofing," some of which I'd like to share below.

In the store:

1. Check the seams.For those of us who know little about sewing, seam inspection may feel daunting, but it can make the difference between a good and bad purchase. Orsola de Castro of Fashion Revolution recommends turning a garment inside out and pulling on any loose strings. The seams should be strong. If anything starts to unravel, don't buy it.2. Inspect the fabric.Hold the garment up to the light. If you can see through it at all, it won't last. Thicker, heavier fabrics are more durable. It's better to buy garments made from single fabric components, i.e. 100 percent cotton or wool, as these are more easily recycled. De Castro prefers natural fibers, which aren't as tough as synthetics but offer other benefits: "They are more breathable, you will sweat less so you don’t need to wash them as often."

At home:

3. Do you really need to wash it?

Washing is hard on clothes, so if you can minimize it, items will last longer. Spot clean specific areas, or take a garment into the shower with you to steam-clean. Air items on a line, pop into the freezer for an overnight refresh, or spray with a 3:2 part mixture of vodka and water. Read: How to do less laundry

4. Store properly.

Marie Kondo has a lot to say about this, as she believes that clothes respond to the way they're stored: "I will often say, 'It's not good to ball up socks, because the socks can't rest this way.' But what I mean by 'allowing the socks to rest' is that the elastic will get stretched over time and will wear out sooner if you roll socks into a ball."

Don't allow a 'floor-drobe' to develop in your bedroom. Fold clothes properly or hang them after use and they'll last longer. Professional organizer Katrina Hassan recommends storing vertically so you can see what you have and not feel a compulsion to shop.

5. Embrace repair.

Clothes need ongoing maintenance, just as cars do. Don't neglect that. De Castro says she gathers up items once a year and takes them to her tailor for any small fixes that need to be done. Or try them yourself. There are lots of videos on YouTube that can teach you how to do it. Maybe a friend or relative can give you a tutorial, too.

Keep in mind that slow fashion is a philosophy and a lifestyle. It doesn't have to mean paying a ton of money for organic, fair-trade, carbon-neutral, biodegradable, plastic-free clothing if it's only going to last a year or two. If a much cheaper item with fewer certifications can become your favorite piece and last a decade, then that is a more environmentally-friendly purchase.