How to care for and resell your wardrobe effectively

·6-min read
Photo credit:  Agata Pospieszynska for Harper's Bazaar
Photo credit: Agata Pospieszynska for Harper's Bazaar

Many people will be using January to try and adopt healthier eating habits or to cut down on alcohol after an overindulgent festive season, but others will be using their New Year's resolutions to try and detox their wardrobes, not just their bodies.

Organising and clearing out your wardrobe can not only help you to feel lighter and more in control, but there has also never been a better time to make the most of your pre-loved pieces. With the climate crisis now front of mind, many consumers are seeking to achieve that feeling of newness in a different way, many through rental and resale. With a growing audience for pre-loved fashion, it has never been easier to make the most of those pieces in your wardrobe that you no longer wear.

But, if you are trying to sell or rent out pre-loved pieces, chances are you'll need to give them a bit of a refresh so that they look and feel as good as new.

To help with this, we spoke to Frej Lewenhaupt, CEO and co-founder of Steamery Stockholm – a care brand that works to extend the lifespan of garments – to find out how to take care of your wardrobe in the most efficient way, as well as some tips on how to correctly resell once you feel that the item is no longer serving you well.

What is the biggest mistake people make when taking care of their clothes?

"Firstly, most clothes never get worn out, they get washed out. The most common reason as to why clothes lose their shape or quality is because we wash them too often, or the wrong way.

"So, our best advice to prolong any garments’ lifetime is to do as little laundry as possible. Steaming is a great alternative to washing; it will keep your garments fresh in-between washes. When doing your laundry, it’s also important to wash right, with a suitable detergent, technique and temperature – treating the textiles the way they deserve."

How should you prepare an item if selling second-hand?

"When it’s time for your former favourites to find a new owner, our best tip is to refresh your item well before reselling it. Make sure to wash the garment, remove pilling, cut off loose threads, and steam it. You could finish off with using a discreetly scented fabric spray to give the garment a fresh scent."

Photo credit: Christian Vierig - Getty Images
Photo credit: Christian Vierig - Getty Images

How should we be storing our clothes?

"When it comes to storing and organising your clothes, we recommend folding your knitwear and trousers to prevent them from losing shape. Shirts, blouses, dresses and blazers can all preferably be stored on hangers."

What are the basic tools for looking after your clothes that you recommend?

"If you want to invest in one essential clothing care tool we would recommend a steamer - either a handheld or a standing one. A steamer is an efficient and gentle alternative to ironing. It leaves your clothes smooth, fresh and wrinkle-free. The hot steam reduces bad smells, kills bacteria, and removes all signs of a garment being worn. We also recommend a fabric shaver, which is a great tool for de-bobbling and for prolonging the life of your knitted garments."

What’s the most efficient way of listing an item?

"When selling your clothes, our best advice is to spark interest with the right description. Always write the specific brand and model name in your listing. Specify which material the garment is made of, especially if it’s an exclusive material like wool or silk. Mention both size and measurements and describe the condition of your garment in detail. Do mention if there are stains and where they’re located, as well as loose hems or threads. Remember to put some extra effort in taking nice photos, too. Place your garment in front of a neutral background and in daylight for best results."

How do you make second-hand items feel new?

"When you have invested in a new second-hand item, start off with washing the garment. Always follow the instructions on the care label or, if it’s a delicate material, you might have to hand wash your new treasure. If you buy knitwear, you can use a fabric shaver to remove pilling and your knit will look brand new again. If the fit of the new garment isn’t perfect, our best advice is to take your item to a tailor to customise it for your body. Easy and totally worth it."

What are the key things you can do to prolong the life and quality of an item?

"To prolong the lifetime of your clothes and textiles we would recommend you steam your clothes and use a fabric shaver to remove lint and pilling from your jumpers. Take your time to mend and repair clothes that have a hole or a loose button instead of throwing them away.

"Taking care of your clothes shouldn’t be time-consuming and complex; it should be easy and fun for everybody. Clothing care is actually quite simple; just make a habit out of washing less, washing right, and caring more."

Victoria Jacobs, founder and CEO of after-care service The Restory, echoed how vital it is to care for your clothes in the right way: "Be gentle and don't over or harshly wash. Make sure you hang up your pieces, fold them, and put them away. Ozone treatments are great for moths, a high-quality de-bobbler is a must-have investment (or The Restory can do it for you), when in doubt, leave it to the experts."

It's important to note that if you aren't storing your clothes in the right way, then all your extra care will be a waste of time. So what's the right way to store your garments? "Undercover if possible but away from moths, heat, damp and long-term sun exposure if sun-bleaching is a concern," says Jacobs. "Leather requires moisturising to stay supple. We encourage microfibre cloths and carnauba cream for most leather but avoid using it on veg-tanned leather, patent, nubuck and suede. In general colour transfer is a nightmare to remove, so beware of new denim and other garments that may not be colourfast."

If you shouldn’t wash an item frequently, how else can you care for it?

"We would definitely recommend steaming your clothes in between washes and hanging them outside overnight to remove odours and to make your garments feel fresh and crisp again. You could also use a clothing mist or a fabric spray to freshen up your garments and textiles. If you get a stain on a garment, you can use a stain remover and target the stain directly instead of washing the whole garment. For denim, we would recommend using a fabric spray or to put them in the freezer once in a while."

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