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Slow fashion: make your capsule wardrobe last longer with these tips

Finding clever ways to extend the life of your favourite fashion pieces isn't just good sartorial savvy – it's great for your wallet and the planet, too.

Updated

Clean clothes folded up on a bed

If you’re concerned about the environment, wearing fashionable clothing that only lasts a season or two isn’t an option. The capsule wardrobe is a perfect solution – the idea being that you buy good-quality clothes that last for several years that you can mix and match to create stylish outfits for multiple occasions. So, it’s super important that these clothes stay in tip-top condition – and we’ve got the best advice on caring for clothes that can last a lifetime.

How often should you wash your capsule wardrobe clothes

Because there are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes capsule wardrobe essentials, we’ve selected some of the most likely key items to pass on our washing frequency tips:

  • Classic cotton T-shirts: every one-to-two wears. Cotton Ts are made for a capsule wardrobe – you can wear them for pretty much any casual occasion or dress them up with a well-fitted pair of jeans and quality shoes. They’re also perfect for layering. As they are in direct contact with the upper body, T-shirts do need washing every one-to-two wears. Just make sure you follow the washing instructions (washing no higher than on 40C) and consider a colour-care detergent like Persil for bright or dark shades.
  • Jeans: every two weeks. Unless this minimalist wardrobe staple gets visibly dirty, you really don’t need to wash most pairs of jeans more than once a fortnight or even once a month. And don’t tumble dry them – jeans look much better if you air-dry them inside-out. Check out more of our tips on washing jeans.
  • Sweaters, woolly jumpers and coats: only when necessary. We’d limit washing to when the occasion calls for it (a festive season of feasting on everything in sight, for example, often results in spills and stains) – while delicate fabrics and wools should ideally be handwashed. Otherwise, leave them be. If you’re worried that individual items are starting to smell, you could always use a dry wash spray such as Day 2.
  • Skirts, dresses and trousers: every five wears. These may only need washing every five wears or so – perhaps more for trousers when the weather is warmer. Again, take note of the washing label to ensure clothes stay in best condition.
  • Shirts: three to four wears. Unless it’s warm (or you have the delights of cramped public transport to contend with), when you may need to wash more frequently. Follow the care instructions and, to avoid extra creases to iron out, skip the tumble dryer.

You can also follow our step-by-step guide on how to keep your best clothes looking newer for longer.

Has your lifestyle during the Covid-19 lockdown affected the type of stains you get on your clothes?

Plastic storage box with clothes in under the bed

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Clothes storage tips

Woolly jumpers and winter wear are more than likely going to be stored away when the season changes, so it’s important to be sure they stay in good condition so you can wear them year after year.

Thankfully, quality storage options aren’t expensive. The likes of simple plastic boxes with secure lids are perfect for your capsule wardrobe, as are vacuum pack bags. But do avoid the temptation to dump everything in regular plastic bags or cardboard boxes, as these won’t properly protect your clothes from dust, moisture, mould or mildew.

Also, make sure that all of your capsule wardrobe – whether in storage for a season or not - is kept at room temperature and away from damp. If you’re worried about moths, keep them at bay with sachets of dried lavender (which has the added bonus of smelling great).

If you want more tips, discover our favourite ways to prepare clothes for storage.

Orange and blue thread with tape measure and sewing needle

If it's broke, fix it

With luck, by buying quality clothes in the first place and then taking care of your capsule wardrobe, your items will last for years to come. All the same, buttons will still come loose and zips may break – that just shouldn’t mean things heading for the bin. Learn a few basic skills so you can mend or alter your clothes if necessary – there are plenty of useful tutorials online for the following:

  • Sewing on a button
  • Replacing a broken zipper

  • Fixing a belt loop that’s come away

  • Working with holes in jeans (just as well that ripped jeans can look great, eh?)

  • Repairing a seam

Even if you feel that an item of clothing is really beyond repair, you still don’t need to throw it away – take a look at how you can re-use your old clothes.

Originally published