Thursday, July 28, 2016

Increasing the Lifespan of Your Clothes

My family consistently chirps me on the fact that I still own (and regularly wear) clothes that I've had since middle school. That's the byproduct of not having grown since grade 8, I guess. While my sister thinks it's 'gross' that I still have wearable t-shirts that are more than 10 years old, I think it's rather impressive. Don't you? 


That being said, formal clothes tend to have a shorter lifespan, mostly because they don't make for good gym clothes. But, here are three tips you can implement to increase the lifespan of your clothes:

1. Stay in shape.

Yes, as Michael Scott says, it's never too early for ice cream. It is summer after all, so ice cream always sounds like a good idea. So do beer and pub fare. But, it's not always good for your health, and it might not be good for your clothes, either.

I frequently get clients who are fathers of the wedding couple and I always start by asking them when they last wore a suit. Many of these fathers say they can't remember, mostly because they don't require wearing one day-to-day, or that they've put on a few pounds over the years and haven't been able to fit into their suits.

Staying in shape has many benefits obviously, but a lesser known byproduct is that it can also keep your body size in the same range so you won't have to shop as often. If you have gained some weight and feel that your clothes are getting tight, why not take an active approach (literally) and hit the gym and/or make an effort to eat healthier? You may end up looking and feeling a lot better, and the seams of your clothes will thank you.

2. Consider fit vs. function.

Some clients like their clothes fitted - and I mean really fitted, to the point that there's very little surplus fabric for movement. While the look is very appealing to some, the risk is that the garment becomes too stressed, leading to rips. Because the garment is very fitted to begin with, there won't be much fabric left in the garment to make repairs.

In these instances, it's important to consider what you intend on physically doing in the garment. For example, when I met up with Beamish from MPC Physio (Kingston) a while back, we discussed what kind of fit he liked vs. what functionality he required. As a physiotherapist, he needs to dress professionally, but also requires additional room for movement so he can demonstrate exercises at his clinic. While he would prefer to have more tapered/fitted dress pants, he knew that he needed more room in his pant legs so that he could demonstrate squats etc. We ended up agreeing to make him a few pairs of dress pants that were straighter cut so that he would be able to perform squats without blowing out his pant seams (a problem he's had with other dress pants).

A little more room allows for more movement.

On the flip side, Beamish's wedding suit for later this August was sized to be more tapered/fitted in the legs; since the suit will be worn for more formal occasions (i.e. not day-to-day work wear), Beamish was comfortable giving up a little movement for the look he wanted.

Something more fitted with some movement restriction.

Fit vs. Function will always be a balancing act, but if you are able to objectively factor in what you'll be doing in your clothes while you wear them, it may assist in determining the amount of surplus fabric you are willing to deal with, and this can add longevity to your clothes.

3. Avoid the dry cleaners, if possible.

I've mentioned this previously, but I'll continue to say it: dry cleaning can be very harsh on your garments, thus reducing their lifespan. Sometimes your clothes do need to be dry cleaned, and that's fine, but don't make a habit of going regularly if you don't have to. Many garments, like most shirts and pants, can be machine washed in cold water; it's just recommended that you hang dry. For jackets and pants, sometimes a quick steam is all you need, as opposed to a full out dry cleaning.