Monthly Archives: March 2017

Know Alterations Tailor Could Do

You’ve probably made a few trips to a tailor in your life to take in (or let out) a dress or to shorten a pair of pants. (And if you’re petite, this errand is probably one with which you’re extremely familiar.) But these skilled artisans can do so much more than just hike up a hem.

Larry Huerta is Head Tailor at zTailors, a new company that literally delivers a pro to your home or office, so you can check that errand off your list without actually having to run it. He let us in on a few tweaks that will go a loooong way toward reducing that seldom-worn pile of clothes that just never feel exactly right whenever you try them on. (We know it’s there.)

1 Altering The Arm

While it may seem pretty obvious that you can have your sleeves made slimmer if they’re too big, there are a host of options for sleeves that are too small as well. If your garment is too tight near the armhole, the tailor can drop it to create more room. He can also use the extra fabric allowance in the seam to loosen the arms a bit, or even remove the sleeves completely to transform it into a tank style.

2
Creating A Different Neckline
Absolutely love love a top or a dress but hate how the neckline doesn’t exactly flatter your flat chest (or large chest, or narrow shoulders, or broad shoulders…)? Reinvent it! Your tailor can work with you to switch up the neckline—say, removing the collar from a button-down or turning a crewneck into a boatneck—so it provides the most flattering silhouette, or just the right amount of modesty (or lack thereof).

3
Custom-Fit Denim
If you’ve ever scored an amazing pair of vintage jeans, you’ve likely realized they also often come with a less-than-amazing fit despite their irresistible cool factor. Don’t despair! A tailor can adjust almost every single aspect of your jeans until they look like they were made for you (because by the time he or she is done, they will have been). The only requirement is that the denim should fit you well through the widest part of your hips. (Don’t worry about the actual waistband since that can be altered as well.) The legs can be tapered to your personal specifications, the hems can be raised or lowered, and—here’s the best part—the seat can be shaped to flatter your curves. Consider this the end of “Mom jeans.”

4
Adding A Zipper
That dress that you always avoid because it’s just too much of a struggle to get into? Your tailor can add a zipper to it—problem solved. For an edgy look, ask for an exposed zipper. Or, if you’d rather not change the appearance of the garment, stick to a hidden side zipper. One small caveat: Because this addition requires a little extra fabric allowance from within the garment, this alteration works best on pieces that are also being taken in. And, of course, your tailor can repair a broken zipper, so you can bring that old skirt back out of retirement.

5
Removing Pleats
Maybe you’re still holding onto a favorite pair of pants from a few (ok, a lot) of years ago, when pleat-fronts were all the rage. Or maybe they’re a recent purchase but those pleats just aren’t doing great things for your hips. Ask a tailor to take them out entirely, or reconstruct them to create a sleeker, more modern look, and then adjust the front of the pant to lay more smoothly (read: flatteringly).

Know More About Winter Clothes Storage

But do you have to? Well, yes, if you want your items to weather the off-season successfully. (No holes!)

1 Sort and Organize

Pull out all your winter clothes and separate them into three piles: wash, dry-clean, and good to go. Don’t forget your hats, scarves, and gloves. While you’re at it, ditch anything that’s outdated or damaged. This is also a good time to vacuum the closet and wipe down shelves.

2
Wash, Then Pack, Everything
Yes, this is a drag, but washing and dry-cleaning garments that have been worn is the best way to prevent pests from attacking, says Steve Boorstein, the author of The Clothing Doctor’s 99 Secrets to Cleaning and Clothing Care. Moths, silverfish, and other creepy crawlies love munching on the sweat, food residue, and body oils (yum) left on clothes. A thorough laundering can also help to eliminate stains that may be invisible now, but that will appear in six months, when it may be too late to get them out.

3
Store Knits in Canvas Bins
Clothes, particularly those made from natural fibers, need air circulation, says Stu Bloom, the owner of Rave FabriCare, a garment- and textile-care company in Scottsdale, Arizona. Airtight containers can hold moisture in fabrics, potentially causing mold, mildew, yellowing, or a musty odor. Already own plastic bins? Poke a few holes in them, or cover stacks of sweaters with old, clean cotton pillowcases or sheets to protect them from dust when they’re stored on a shelf. Pack the heaviest items on the bottom, the lightest on top.

4
Hang Tailored Pieces
If you have room in a closet, stow garments such as dresses, coats, and silk or leather items on wooden or padded hangers. Then place them in breathable garment bags or slip a clean cotton sheet over a rack. No hanging space to spare? Fold items with tissue paper inside bins. Never store anything in dry-cleaning bags, which trap chemicals and moisture and cause yellowing.

5
Pick a Good Spot
Store bins and bags in a cool, dark, dry, and ventilated area—perhaps under a bed or in a guest room. Is the basement your only option? Add silica-gel packets to the bins, use a dehumidifier to absorb moisture, and place bricks under the bins to keep them off the floor. Avoid the attic; high temperatures can cause fibers to become brittle.

6
Keep Pests Away
Drop cedar blocks, balls, or sachets into the storage containers, and slip cedar rings on hangers. (Be careful that the cedar doesn’t touch fabric; it may stain.) Cedar repels insects, but only if its odor is strong. Revive the scent every 6 to 12 months by sanding it lightly. Or opt for sachets filled with lavender; bugs despise its scent.

Keep Your Sweater Looking Like New

Sweater season is upon us—and while that means all sorts of good things (fall festivities and cozy weekend wear among them), it also means a slight shift in the way we take care of our clothes. Read on for our favorite tips on how to handle your favorite knits.

While You’re Shopping…
model-wearing-turtleneck-sweater
PHOTO BY ROBERT MAXWELL
Think you’ve scored a great deal? Before you ring up that new sweater, check the weave (especially on wool and cashmere items). It should feel close and tight—the looser the weave, the more the fabric will be prone to pilling.

Before You Wash…
First things first: Check the care label! It will tell you whether it’s safe to toss your sweater in the washing machine, or if it requires special care, like hand-washing or dry cleaning. If your sweater can go in the washer, follow these easy tips:

Skip the spin cycle: The rough motion can stretch knits and ruin their shape.
Just like jeans, knits and sweaters do best when you put them in the washer inside out. Also button any buttons and zip any zippers to help clothes maintain their shape and avoid any snags.
While You’re Washing…
Always use the gentle cycle on knits, and use the “like with like” rule. Rougher fabrics like denim can create pilling on delicate knits.

Include a fabric conditioner, like Downy, with knit loads to keep the fabrics soft. Conditioners also help keep the fibers in knitwear lubricated during washing, so they don’t become fuzzy.

For extra protection, toss knits in a mesh lingerie bag to minimize their surface contact with other clothing.

While You’re Drying…
Even if the care label says your garment is dryer-safe, it’s best to skip this step when it comes to sweaters. Instead, simply lay them out flat on a towel to air-dry—this will help avoid shrinkage and pilling.

Never hang knitwear to dry—this can stretch the weave (especially when the fibers are heavy with water) and destroy your garment’s shape.
How to Rehab…
If your sweater has already hit the pilled stage, don’t worry, there’s hope. Battery-operated defuzzers, like this one from Conair, make short, easy work of safely removing the pilled layer from knitwear, without damaging the garment itself.

Some Ways to Save Money on Your Wardrobe

Being on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut new clothing out of your life for good. Follow these simple tips to save—while you shop.

1 Do Shop Slightly Out of Season

Most retailers get new deliveries of clothing at least every two weeks (if not more often), and are under constant pressure to turn over their merchandise. This means that season-specific items—summer shorts and sandals, winter hats and gloves—hit the shelves a month or so early and are likely to be deeply discounted halfway through the season, despite still being the latest trends (making right now, for example, a great time to shop for swimwear). Resist the urge to stock up on the new pieces you want for the coming season—snag them when they’re marked down, but still wearable for months instead.

2
Do Buy Better Basics
When it comes to wardrobe staples (a white buttoned shirt, black trousers, a go-to tee), the options are endless, seemingly similar, and available at every price point, from Forever 21 to Fendi. But when it comes to these pieces—the ones you’ll wear over and over again, year after year—it makes more sense to invest in quality items. The cheap black pencil skirt and the more expensive one might not look so different on the rack, but paying a little more now will prevent you from having to constantly replace the lower-priced version (which will show telltale signs of wearing and washing much sooner), saving you money in the long run.

3
Don’t Get Sucked in By Sales
Do you have Black Friday marked on your calendar? What about Cyber Monday? Super Saturday? Amazon Prime Day? Are you on the mailing list for all of your favorite stores because they offer insider deals and discounts? You may think you’re being a savvy consumer by always scoring new things at lower-than-retail value, but you’re really just playing into well-known consumer psychology retailers use to get their customers to buy more—and more often. Do yourself a favor and unsubscribe from all of those email lists. The next time you’re tempted by a sale item, first ask yourself, “Is this something I would pay full value for? Or am I just tempted to buy it because it’s on sale?”

4
Don’t Dry Clean
Prevent your laundry bills from racking up by checking care tags before you walk out of the store. If you have any items that are “dry clean only,” keep in mind that the purchase price of that item isn’t the final amount that it will ultimately cost your bank account—you need to factor in the cost of dry cleaning for every wear. Keeping your closet stocked with pieces you can launder yourself will keep the cost of caring for your wardrobe down considerably.

5
Do Pay Attention to Care Tags
If avoiding “dry clean only” items is a maxim you already live by, take it one step further and ensure you’re taking proper care of the clothing you have—just because you don’t need to dry clean a piece doesn’t mean it won’t need special care. Check the care tag and always launder according to the manufacturers specifications, whether that’s with cold water only, laying flat to dry, or handwashing. It will greatly extend the lives of your clothes.

6
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Discount
Have you ever spotted a could-be perfect piece in store, reached for it, and realized, sadly, that it’s been damaged? Usually, the issue is minor—a small (removable) stain, a ripped seam, or a missing button—nothing you can’t fix at home for the cost of a small emergency sewing kit. Instead of putting the item back on the rack in defeat, recognize it as an opportunity to inquire about the retailer’s damage discount policy; they usually have one in place that will knock about 10 percent off of the price, even if it’s already on sale.

7
Do Try Alternative Ways to Shop
Mass retailers aren’t the only options out there to keep your closet well-stocked. Try hosting a clothing swap with friends, scouring eBay for coveted investment pieces, and keeping an eye on the offerings at your local thrift, consignment, and off-price stores.

Tips to Care for All Your Favorite Summer Items

Maybe it’s because we actually want to spend time outside, but our summer clothing and accessories seem to take more of a beating then those we don during cooler months. To that end, below is your go-to guide (from the most expert of experts) on how to keep each treasured piece of warm-weather-wear looking good as new for next year—and the one after that.

1 Leather Sandals

Comfortable, effortless, and chic. How could you not want to wear these every single day that the sun is shining and the temp is over 70 degrees? To make sure your favorite pair is around for the long haul, follow the wisdom of shoe designer-extraordinaire, Stuart Weitzman:

After each wearing, clean leather sandals with a damp, soft sponge to remove the dirt and oil residue. This will help prevent buildup or discoloration.
Keep the packaging sandals come with—those plastic inserts and supports from the box—and tuck them back into sandals when storing them to help them retain their shape.

2 Straw Beach Bags and Totes

Nothing says summer quite like a pretty woven beach tote (and for style’s sake, they definitely beat out their canvas competition), but they do take a little extra love and care. Laurel Brandstetter, whose brand Mar y Sol has gone from an insider cult obsession to selling at nationwide retailers, like J.Crew, has a couple of tricks up her sleeve:

Throughout beach season, give straw bags a good shake to knock any sand out after each use. Then, spot-clean with a damp cloth.
If you’ve overstuffed or accidentally created a bulge in the straw, a good spritz with clean water from a spray bottle will dampen the fibers just enough to help you reshape a misshapen bag.
Store basket style totes upright—and make them multitask. They can be filled with towels, magazines, knitting supplies or anything else during the off-season.

3 White Denim

‘Tis the season! White jeans, ubiquitous during the summer months, pose one of the trickiest “keep it clean” conundrums. Mary Ellen Moschetti, the CEO of the fit-obsessed, trend-focused denim line Parker Smith, comes to the rescue:

If you’ve spilled something on your white jeans, treat the spot with a stain-remover, then turn it inside out and machine-wash in cold water.
For whites that are starting to look dingy, use a non-chlorine, oxygen-based bleach detergent when washing to help restore the brightness. No matter what, only wash them with other whites.
If your jeans contain stretch and have gotten baggy, throw them in the dryer. The heat will help stretch fibers bounce back to their original shape.

4 Sunglasses

Whether your pair is a statement accessory or more low-key, you probably wear your sunnies every day. And even if you’re careful with them, they’ll start to show signs of wear over time. Kristen McCabe, Sunglass Hut’s Vice President of Product, offers these tips for keeping your frames in good shape:

Clean your lenses regularly, even if they aren’t prescription. Always use a sunglass cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth. As tempting as it is to just fog the lens with your breath and swipe your shirt over it, resist—this can actually compound dust and dirt on the lens and cause scratches.
Don’t push your sunglasses up onto the top of your head like a headband. This will cause them to warp and stretch out over time.
Be conscientious about carrying your sunglasses in a case, so your keys or anything else in your handbag doesn’t scratch the lenses. If the box they came in is too bulky, opt for a space-saving microfiber pouch.

5 Flip-Flops

Maybe even more than your leather sandals, trusty flip-flops get the most abuse during summer. They’re everyone’s favorite footwear for the beach, the pool, running errands, and getting a pedicure—and over the course of all of this they acquire quite a bit of grime. Tara Wessells, Senior Merchandising Manager for Havaianas (a.k.a. the flip-flop), has the dirt on getting them squeaky clean again:

Using a soft-bristle nail brush and gentle dish soap, scrub the flip-flops gently under running warm water. Let them air dry, and they’ll be good as new.
Store brightly colored pairs in a dark place or stow them in shoe bags, as the rubber can fade easily in the sun.