Starting the beginning of this year, I pledged to continue being frugal when it comes to fashion by recycling whatever I have in my closet. So far, I am succeeding. As a professional woman in my 30s in a conservative working environment, I am slowly overhauling my wardrobe by upgrading pieces while still using my existing clothes and shoes, keeping them well-kept, tailoring them for my figure, and taking care of them in general.
In this post, I will share my most important fashion tools and hacks to maximize existing clothing articles. I’ve searched for these solutions for a long time and I’m sharing these with everyone so you too can save money like I did. These solutions are not only for women; men might pick up some tips here too, so read on.
GENERAL CLOTHING CARE
It doesn’t matter how much you paid for your clothes. You need to take care of them so you can get the most out of your investment and hard-earned money. In addition to the usual clothing care tips (such as following the washing and ironing instructions, etc.) here are some things you can do to revive and prolong the life of your clothes.
Use a fabric defuzzer
Piles and fuzz are broken threads that form into little balls and knots all over your clothes. They are formed when fibers rub together in the wash and during normal wear and tear. They make our clothes look ugly, old, and uncomfortable. When I checked my wardrobe earlier this year, I discovered that almost half of what I have in my closet have piles and fuzz on them. So I spent two entire weekends removing piles and fuzz using a fabric defuzzer.
Many people use razors to remove piles but if you have a lot of items to defuzz, it is best to invest in a fabric defuzzer. Not only is using a razor and manually scrubbing the fabric for piles tiring for your arms, if you put too much pressure you may even damage your clothes. A fabric defuzzer is much more gentle on the fabric since you only need to hover it over the item and it will do the job wonderfully. Plus, it’s not even that expensive.
Here are some options you can look at if you can’t find anything near you:
- Conair Fabric Defuzzer – 4 stars with more than 8,000 reviews
- BEAUTURAL Fabric Shaver – 4.5 stars with more than 2,500 reviews
- MOSPRO Upgraded 2 in 1 Electric Lint Remover – 5 stars with 50 reviews
I bought a defuzzer on sale from a local shop for around USD8.00. If you live near a Daiso or any Japanese 100-yen shop ( 100円ショップ, Hyaku En Shoppu), you can get them there for cheap too.
I used the defuzzer on all types of clothing including wool coats, cotton shirts, polyester dresses, even underwear and old socks. I saved a lot of money since instead of ignoring piled clothes in the cabinet, I now use them all the time.
Use the right hangers
Do you know that different type of clothing article require different types of hangers? Using the right hanger shape and material help preserve the shape and integrity of your clothing and make them last longer.
For instance, use a wooden hanger with the right shoulder support for your suit jackets. If you use the regular thin metal hanger, you risk deforming your jacket and leaving stains. For clothes made of delicate fabrics like silk or plant fabrics like pineapple, use padded satin hangers since these are gentle on the clothes and do not rub the shoulders, extending the life of your fancy clothes.
For a couple of years now I’ve been using velvet hangers picked up from Costco (similar here). I first decided to use them because they looked nice but I eventually noticed that clothes stayed on better, eliminated the danger of rust stains, and there’s no danger of fabrics snagging on rough metallic edges.
Using the correct kind of hangers when drying your clothes is also essential. I’ve been using a regular plastic hanger on a woolen long-sleeved turtle neck shirt I got from Uniqlo and it became so deformed I gave it away to my son (who was in an Archer phase at that time). Then I read that wool clothes need to be laid flat for drying. Although it was too late for my black turtleneck, I was able to save my other woolen clothes from damage.
Find a great tailor
Finding a great tailor is essential in reviving your wardrobe. Check your closet right now. I’m sure that you can find items there that you stopped wearing because it’s the wrong length, have frayed seams, show terrible boob gaps. I myself have revived a lot of old clothes and made new clothes more wearable by bringing them to a trusted neighborhood tailor. Among the adjustment I commissioned were:
- Affixing sew-on snaps between the buttons over my chest area to eliminate boob gaps.
- Adjusting the hemline of my dresses to go over the knee. I tried the conservative girl guideline of having dresses below the knee but I looked like a mushroom because I’m short. Adjusting the dresses a couple of inches made the dresses much more wearable.
- Lining an unlined coat with luxurious fabric. Lining is an important marker of quality clothing. If you’re buying clothes without lining, it’s a sign that it was made cheaply. Go to your tailor and add a lining to transform cheap clothing to make it look and feel expensive.
I know people who have expensive shoes but you won’t be able to tell because their shoes are too scuffed and unkempt they look no better than cheap polyurethane shoes. A lot of people also make judgments about others, whether in the workplace, in business, or new relationships, based on how nice and well-kept their shoes are.
Once when I was talking to this woman who was demanding something from me (it was work related) and she dropped this power move at the end of our talk: she told me I had nice shoes, even if I didn’t. They weren’t not nice because they were just generic black leather shoes. My shoes weren’t nice because they were unpolished and had a lot of noticeable scuffs. Made me feel a little bad, I gotta tell you.
So after that episode I made sure that I take care of all the shoes I already have. Once you clean, polish and condition your shoes, you’ll discover that you actually have a lot of options and there’s no need to buy new ones (frequently. I know we will still buy shoes).
Shoe trees. Buy them. You might think that shoe trees are only for fancy, custom-made shoes. You’re wrong. Most shoes would benefit from shoe trees since it will keep the shape of the shoes and help them dry between uses. Shoes trees made of cedar will absorb moisture, protecting the shoes’ lining, and keep away bugs.
Here are some great shoe tree options:
- Cedar Elements Women’s Combination Cedar Shoe Tree 2 pack – 4.5 stars with 12 reviews. This is the more premium option.
- Cedar Elements Wholesale Program – 6 pack – 4.5 stars with 16 reviews. These look similar to the ones I got from Daiso.
Although most shoe trees available online are fancy, you can find some options at your local Daiso or Japanese 100-yen shops. I found plastic and wooden ones in my local Daiso. If you can’t find shoe trees anywhere near you, you can use scrunched up newspaper but make sure you change it every once in a while since newspaper will get wet in time.
If you own boots, invest in boot shapers. You don’t want your boots to be sagging while they’re in storage. There are inexpensive options online. I got mine from my local Daiso and my boot shapers helped me keep my boots in great condition even though I’ve been using in for several winters now.
I have tried boot shapers similar to these two items:
- Onedone Folding Boot Shaper Stands Knee High Clip Support – 4.5 stars with more than 800 reviews.
- Whitmore Boot Shapers Spring Loaded Adjustable – 4 stars with 84 reviews. I have boot shapers similar to these two but I prefer a spring loaded one. It feels more sturdy and provides a stronger support than the clip.
Clean your shoes
After you take off your shoes when you get home, clean them. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate ritual. Just wipe it using a rag or use a soft bristle shoe brush to remove dust and grime. It will take a couple of minutes daily, max.
What I do is when I arrive home I wipe off my shoes, spray a little bit of shoe deodorant to remove the sweaty feet smell (from walking all the way home), put in the shoe trees, then stow them away for use the day after tomorrow. I don’t use the same shoes two days in a row.
FASHION ITEMS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEED
Apart from taking care of your clothes to either revive them or make them last longer, there are also some items that will help in making your clothes stay on you better. I think one of the reasons that people buy new clothes is that they think that it’s the clothing’s fault that they can’t achieve the looks they see on magazines or Instagram when in fact, they are not using the right tools to get the look right.
For those of us who work in conservative work environments, tucking our shirts is necessary. Tucked shirts look neat, professional, and put together while untucked shirts look frumpy and too casual. Most women tuck our shirts under leggings or tights. Others tuck shirts under their underwear. But whichever way you tuck them, your shirt will look messy as soon as you sit down or move around.
I’ve snooped around and discovered that men have solved this problem a long time ago by using shirt stays. The concept is, you wear either garter-style or harness-style stays that uses either clips or clamps which will hold down your shirt to ensure that they look snappy and pleasant all day long. These are similar to garter belts that women use for thigh-high stockings, only instead of pulling up, the shirt stays pull down.
Since shirt stays are mostly used by men, I had a difficult time looking for a pair that looked and felt feminine. After searching for a long time, I found a pair made of lace (this one but it’s currently unavailable. Despite the 1 star review, I love mine) , which I have been using for more than 4 months now. And let me tell you, it changed my office-attire game.
I now wear shirts more often at work instead of wearing dresses repeatedly. This reduced the wear and tear on my dresses because I included more items back into rotation. I avoided wearing shirts before not only because tucking multiple times a day is too troublesome, the silhouette was unflattering. The shirt stays helped in defining a waist and gave me a more flattering shape.
Here are some shirt stay options for both men and women:
- Tinksky Anti Wrinkle Non Slip Clip Elastic Shirt Stay for Women – 3 stars
- NV Holders W Holder Shirt Holder for Women – 1 star and currently unavailable. I have this and I love it! I should’ve bought more when it was still available.
- Shirt Stays for Men for Police and Military – 4.5 stars with more than 100 reviews
- Shirt Stays Adjustable Soft and Smooth Perfect Sock Garters – 5 stars with 114 reviews
When we wear collared shirts, we want the collars to stay up. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get that effect so we look sloppy instead. Have you noticed that on tv, top executives and go-getting achievers always have snappy collars while lowly, downtrodden workers have floppy ones?
Floppy collars is a problem for women and men. Look around your workplace and you will notice floppy collars everywhere. Luckily, there’s no need to buy new shirts since there are a number of products that we can use to keep our collars up.
- There are two types of collar stays: (1) the flat bar type that you insert inside a slit under the collar specifically sewn for the purpose. I’ve seen men’s dress shirts from Uniqlo bought from years ago that have the collar stay slits and I thought it was the most amazing thing. Unfortunately, I have never seen any women’s shirt with those slits. Even my fancy Brooks Brothers shirts do not have them. (2) Plastic stays that you wear around the neck, like, well, a collar. This is the kind that women may be able to use. But since most women’s collars are narrower than men, we have to take care to choose ones that are not too wide. Otherwise, the stays will peep under the collars if you’re not wearing a suit coat.
- Collar pins are pinned on the front ends of your collar so they stay flat and nice. Many collar pins are also decorative. The problem is, these are pins which means you need to poke (small) holes on your collars. If you’re wearing an expensive shirt or one that is made from delicate material (like silk, for example), collar pins may not be your best option.
TOOLS TO SAVE MONEY
Leather belt hole puncher
I only have 1 leather belt and I was able to use it despite the fact that I lost so much weight since I bought it. The reason? I have this leather belt hole puncher. Instead of either buying a new belt every time I run out of holes or paying someone to punch holes on my frankly inexpensive belt, I just do it myself and save money.
Apart from using it on my one and only belt, I’ve used the hole puncher on the strap of my leather satchel bag so it’s now on a more comfortable length.
Shoe stretcher and stretching spray
Did you buy a pair of shoes online thinking that it’s the right size only to find that it’s actually to tight and you don’t want to send it back because shipping is expensive? Or your feet got fat and your old but still nice shoes no longer fit?
Instead of blow drying your shoes while you have it on and risking burning your skin, use a shoe stretcher and stretching spray instead. Shoe stretchers come in several sizes, and will enable you to both widen and stretch your shoes. Most stretchers being sold online already include the vamp stretchers and other attachments to customize the shoe depending on the shape of your feet.
I highly recommend using this combo after I personally used it to great effect on the second hand satin Bottega Veneta flat shoes I bought online. Yes, I have expensive taste but I’m too stingy so I compromise by buying second hand luxury items. And before you say that’s gross, I’m the woman who bought her entire wardrobe from ukay-ukay (rummage) stalls in Quiapo and Cubao from college to my mid-20s. Nothing fazes me. Of course now to get my money’s worth I choose items that are almost new or were never worn.
I was so satisfied with the result that I told my coworkers about it. One colleague decided to buy her own shoe stretcher to use on her old, expensive shoes which she can no longer wear ever since, according to her, her feet got fat. I didn’t even know feet get fat, but apparently it’s a thing.
Although I’m not a person who closely follow trends, I am still interested in fashion. I like to have nice things and look nice. Striving to achieve FIRE and wanting to have nice things are not mutually exclusive. There are ways to dress and look well without spending too much. Of course, I’m planning on buying more premium items and upgrading my wardrobe. As a matter of fact, I am in the process of doing that right now and I will share my strategies on how and where to look for high quality items without spending like a chump.
But that doesn’t mean I get to throw away the things I already spent money on. Not only would that be wasteful, doing so would be bad for the environment.
I hope that you learned something from this post. Seriously, I saved a lot of money by applying these strategies and using the items I mentioned above. My goal for this post is to avoided repeating things already covered by most of the existing articles online. So you won’t find tips here on how to remove wine stains from your shirts, etc. Thousands or articles already had that covered.
Nevertheless, feel free to share any other clothing care and shoe care tips you personally use.
By the way, this article contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from the link, I earn a (very) small commission. Thank you for your support!
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