There’s more to looking stylish than just the clothes and confidence that go into rocking them. You can’t look stylish if those clothes aren’t looking their best and a lot of that relies on how well you maintain and store your clothes. They don’t need quite as much love and attention as an infant but think of them as an independent teenager; they don’t ask for love but they need it just the same.
I will preface this section by stating that I almost never dry clean anything. The last thing I dry cleaned was the Thomas Mason shirt I got married in and I only dry cleaned it because it had chocolate cake completely smeared into it from a vindictive cake cutting moment. And that was three years ago. Something to keep in mind is that these days most washers have a dry clean setting on them which you should definitely try out to cut down on the exorbitant cost of dry cleaning. Especially since dry cleaning can actually damage the fibers in clothing, particularly in knit pieces like sweaters, I would recommend layering to avoid excessive laundering. Under sweaters I tend to layer at least an undershirt, always a v-neck since they are technically underwear and no one but a select few should be seeing that.
As for other items, when washing button ups remember to wash with all buttons unbuttoned. Washing machines are not gentle on clothing so ensuring that everything is unbuttoned (remember buttons on collars as well) will prolong the life of your shirts. Final laundering tip: pay attention to cleaning instructions on the tag. While I will say that in my experience the tags tend to be more timid than the garments can handle, I’d still pay attention to their warnings.
I use to work at a clothing retailer and if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to properly fold almost everything. Here’s what you should keep in mind when thinking about folding because there are a lot of methods out there and they all get the job done. The less creasing your items have the better. With dress pants, I fold over on a tiered slack hanger to maximize storage space and they result in only one crease line on your pants. However, I fold and stack all casual pants because it’s easier to see what you’ve got to choose from than when they are hanging. For t-shirts I do a typical centered square fold and fold in half so you end up with this small envelope sized package of cotton. Then I store in drawers on end so that I can see all of my t-shirt options when I open the drawer. This ends up cutting down on the mess that can result from stacking them one on top of the other. Oh, and hang all button up shirts because duh that’s the best way to do it.
If you’re like me your closet has expanded into other closets (and rooms… and closets in those rooms). No? Doesn’t sound like you? Regardless you should be storing your clothing properly. At the end of seasons remove all seasonal clothing. That means by this time of year you should have packed up all your shorts, short-sleeve shirts, swim trunks, linen pants, etc. Make sure you fold everything as flat as possible with as few creases as possible so that you don’t pull anything out in four months and it looks like a wrinkled mess. Store in containers that are as airtight as possible and for good measure throw in a few cedar balls to ward away unwanted pests that could potentially damage your clothing.
For non-seasonal items pay attention to how you’re storing them (beyond folding). For footwear ensure that your shoes are not piled up on top of one another like mine (shakes head). I’m guilty of the inevitable rat king of shoes where all the laces and soles have become just a piled mess of leather and suede, but the proper way to store shoes would be to keep pairs together and space them out so that each pair does not touch another. The reason for this would be to avoid one shoe staining another. Think about it… if a black leather shoe rubs against a tan suede shoe the color will inevitably rub off onto it. Not to mention a dirty-soled shoe laying on top of another—it’s bound to be a disaster. While proper storage is key to clothing but particularly with footwear.
This only scratches the surface of properly maintaining your wardrobe, I mean I could have written a manifesto about the dangers of storing shoes with each other, but hopefully it inspires you to think about putting more thought into how you store your clothing. At the end of the day your personal style story is told through your clothing so make sure you give it a fighting chance.