Looking after your clothes is something that never goes out of style. Simone Venner reveals how to make your clothes last longer
Nothing makes me feel more smug than wearing my favourite 12-year-old boots and still receiving compliments. I remember saving up for them, drying them off after getting out from the rain and storing them in the original boot bag they came in. They would finish off every outfit and make me feel amazing. These were my lucky boots. Sadly, over the years I’ve noticed that fast fashion has become the accepted norm. I’m saddened by how classic items are now so easily thrown aside and replaced in efforts to keep up with new trends. But thankfully, with the rise in awareness of the effects of climate change, eco-conscious fashion seems to be the newest trend.
Celebs such as Emma Watson, Livia Firth and will.i.am are all using their platform to incite positive change – challenging high street stores while raising awareness of the environmental and human rights violations of many of our favourite brands.
What does climate change have to do with fashion? Sadly, quite a lot. For one, the constantly changing trends in fashion mean that the factories responsible for churning out these new styles can’t take much of a break. Neither do the emissions they produce. According to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc.int), the total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production, at 1.2 billion tonnes annually, are more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
Could sustainable spending be the solution? Of course, this is an amazing step to take for both the fashion industry and buyers. But, unfortunately, despite brands such as Lucy & Yak (lucyandyak.com) and People Tree (peopletree.co.uk) introducing us to transparent fashion, the truth is, it’s just not enough to fix what has already been done. We now know just how big the problem of global warming is and, the truth is, recycling only puts a band-aid on a very big issue.
Really what we need is to slow down on consumption. Two of the best ways of doing this is by buying responsibly and most importantly looking after what you have. Whether you take your old clothes to a charity shop or donate them to friends, it’s our responsibility as humanitarians to look after them. With the fashion industry contributing to around 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas, making clothes last longer is one of the easiest steps we can take towards an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.
- Quality over quantity
I first found out the importance of this the hard way with my yoga mat. I invested in over five different mats, all between £15-£35, with every mat causing me to slip and interrupting my practice. Eventually, I took the leap and invested in an £85 mat that I have now had for over five years and can’t see myself needing a new one anytime soon. Invest in something that you know will last you for a long time, keep it clean and look after it well.
- Wash your clothes inside out
We’re often told to wash our darks inside out to prevent fading, but all clothing can benefit from this. It may help prevent the loss of buttons, zippers or other items on the clothing catching on or rubbing against other clothes or the washing machine.
- Do up your bras before washing
Make sure to lock your bra to prevent snagging or hooking other items in the wash. This may also help your bras keep their shape.
- Wash delicates in a wash bag or a DIY pillowcase
I have been using this trick for years, as first recommended to me by my godmother. Simply add delicates to a similar coloured pillowcase and tie at the top with a hair tie.
- Use less detergent
Remember that the recommendation by your detergent is a rough guide for soiled clothing. Be mindful with half and full loads and think about just how soiled your clothes really are. I limit the amount of detergent I use in the washer and never find my clothes coming out unclean. This, in the long run, will be gentler on your clothes, more cost-effective, all whilst also reducing your carbon footprint!
- Read the washing instructions
They are there for a reason. If you wash your clothes at higher temperatures than recommended, this will take its toll on your clothing, leading to an increase in colour fading, shrinking, and ultimately a waste of unnecessary energy.
- Don’t wash after every wear
This is a big one. We have a big issue in the West when it comes to dirt. We think wearing an outfit out for dinner earns a space in the washer. If the clothing isn't in contact with the skin then you may get more wears out of it. If all fails, do the sniff test. If it smells okay, then it doesn't need washing. If it’s a case of your clothes smelling like this morning’s coffee, then how about spraying some homemade freshener on them and hanging by an open window. Try to be more mindful when it comes to washing. Make your own spray by combining baking soda, water and essential oils.
For more from Simone, check out @msholistic