Earth Day: How to make your vintage clothing last forever!
Happy Earth Day TOG babes!
Did you know the very first Earth Day was held in 1970? What a year.
So obviously as a purveyor of vintage clothing I am always looking to find ways of making both my own clothes and our pieces on TOG last forever! And OK maybe they can't last FOREVER, but I've compiled my top 5 pointers on how to make your clothes last longer, which is better for your clothes, for your purse, and ultimately - the Earth!
And if you can't be bothered reading my gibbering, head to the bottom where I've done a summary!
1. Wash them less!
This is my absolute number one tip! Obviously washing your clothes is necessary sometimes, but it is without a doubt the fastest way of your clothes deteriorating, and more often than not they don't actually require the washing machine - just a spot wash or freshen up.
Not only does the washing machine make your clothes fade, become misshapen, and decrease their structural integrity (so more likely to rip), but every time you wash most clothing produced post 1960s, microfibres are released into the water which eventually end up in the sea, and let's just say the fish do not enjoy them.
So my mum Helen has a wealth of knowledge on fashion through history (get to know her here!), and she always says that back in the day most people would just hang their clothes outside when it was a nice bright windy day - the sun would kill the bacteria, and the wind would freshen them up!
Now, I'm not saying you should never wash your clothes again, but I'm just saying have a think before you throw it in the wash. Spot washing is actually super quick and you don't need anything fancy, sometimes something as basic as washing up liquid will get out stains! I've also heard a vodka/water solution is great at getting out smells, if that's how you want to use your vodka.
In short, wash your favourite vintage pieces way less (if at all), invest in some kind of fabric deodoriser (avoid aerosols!), hang them outside on a bright blowy day and give spot washing a try!
2. Learn how to do basic repairs
This one seems really obvious, but it still shocks me when people don't know how to sew buttons on!
The best thing I ever bought was a jar of buttons from a charity shop - it was packed full of the maddest buttons, and I've just added to it ever since and I swear to god it has never let me down! So keep a random Quality Street tin and put any spare buttons in it so when people open it expecting chocolates they're really disappointed.
Mending rips and tears is also an important thing to learn, especially if you're a collector of vintage, most of which was originally made by hand so is prone to ripping. A needle and thread or repair kit is so cheap, sometimes they even give them out at hotels! I literally always keep a safety pin on me too so if anything happens while you're out, it's fine!
3. Store them correctly
This is a mega important one and something that is easy to maintain once you have a space set up! My top tips are:
For anything super colourful make sure it's out of direct sunlight.
For anything heavy, knitted or crocheted, fold rather than hang them.
Try to ensure your whole wardrobe has air circulation to prevent mould or musty smells.
Another top tip is if you buy anything made from natural materials, particularly wool, suede or cashmere, if you can it's a good idea to put them in a sealed freezer bag and put them in the freezer overnight. This will kill any moth eggs or anything you don't want being there!
Some things are sadly beyond a little mend or button, and have likely come to the end of their natural life. But that doesn't mean they are destined for landfill!
You can have so much fun adding woven patches, zips, patchworking, safety pins (for a punk vibe!), or even turning them into something else entirely! Turning dresses into tops if the skirt is knackered, or turning t-shirts into tote bags is super fun. And if in doubt, most things will turn into cushions. There are loads of YouTube videos about this kind of thing which is great place to start!
Or, as a final resort, use totally useless items as cloths to clean with! You'll never buy kitchen roll again.
5. Enjoy them!!
Ultimately clothes are there to be enjoyed, and if you love your clothes more, you'll always want to find ways to make them last as long as you can! So find all the ways to style them, love them dearly and let's make them last forever.
- Avoid the washing machine
- Keep a jar of buttons
- Fold heavy / crochet / knitted items
- Use clothes until they on their last legs - and then some!
- Love your wardrobe!
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