Caring for your clothes

With the average wardrobe worth £4k it makes sense to protect your investment. Here's how.

Caring for your clothes

Fact: the average wardrobe is worth £4,000. Gulp. Sounds exorbitant, but by the time you've totted up your Rock and Republic denims, Diesel trainers, posh undies and entire shoe emporium - kerching - the numbers start to make sense. So next time you drop your work suit on the floor or tumble dry a cashmere ballet wrap, remind yourself that it's your investment that you're devaluing. Here's how to keep your wardrobe looking as crisp and lovely as that Agnès B shirt you've got your eye on.

Hungover?

The only time it's ever OK to leave your LBD on the floor is if a George Clooney lookalike has just unzipped it. In all other scenarios, hang your clothes up to let the creases drop out and the natural shape return.

There is no place for nasty wire hangers in your wardrobe. Hang an expensive cashmere cardy off one and the shoulders will sprout wings. Instead use wooden hangers (from Habitat or John Lewis) for jackets, trousers, shirts and jeans and padded hangers (from Accessorize) for delicate garments. For skirts use hangers with clips which attach to the waistband - don't be tempted to use the skirt's loops because they'll distort its structure beyond recognition.

Get sorted

Organising your wardrobe may sound tedious, but searching for that elusive Reiss blouse in the morning wastes time and raises blood pressure. There's two schools of thought here: either store in colour zones or group shirts, trousers, jeans, jumpers, skirts and dresses together - whatever works for you. If you're short on space fold knitwear, T-shirts and jeans.

Avoid plastic garment bags as they can retain moisture and allow mildew and odours to develop. The natural fibre versions from The Holding Company are pricier than plastic, but it's money well spent.

So last season...

One way to max space and declutter your wardrobe is to store out-of-season clothes. Great Little Trading Company sells a good range of storage boxes, as well as some nifty vacuum storage bags where you hoover out the air so they compress to a fraction of their size. Packing away your seasonal gear is an ideal opportunity to declutter. You know it makes sense! Read our feature on creating The perfect capsule wardrobe for more advice.

Do the right thing

To get the best out of your clothes, they need to rest, so try to rotate. Once you've worn it, let it have a breather - literally.

Dandruff, fluff, stray hairs and lint do not a good look make, so give clothes a quick pick-me-up by running a lint tape roller or clothes brush over. If you're serious about looking sharp, invest in a steamer. A shot of steam removes wrinkles and freshens up your clothes a treat. Try Supersteamer or Cucina Direct.

Scrubs up nicely

How exactly does it happen? The fine wool jumper that was destined for the handwash pile has disappeared into a 60º bio-wash and shrunk to Nicole Ritchie proportions. Remember, if it says hand-wash, that’s what it means. Do wear gloves when handwashing. Detergents really zap the moisture out of your hands and premature aging is so not a good look.

When you’re sorting through the laundry bin, separate clothes into lights; darks; whites and hand washing. It’s best to put delicate items in a mesh laundry bag to avoid tangling with other clothes. Do up zips so they can’t snag fabrics and use a gentle liquid detergent to avoid lumps of powder bleaching the fabric. If you're in the market for a new appliance Six of the Best Washing Machines is essential reading.

Time to dry out

The tumble dryer is your wardrobe’s arch enemy. Fine for towels, not fine for your Agent Provocateur chemise. Take the eco-friendly route and use a good old-fashioned washing line which also makes your clothes smell so much nicer. With sweaters, cashmere and delicates, your best bet is to dry flat and reshape whilst damp.

Gone to the cleaners

Boring – maybe. Expensive – yes. Essential – definitely. Dry cleaning is the way forward for suits, suede, leather, delicates, linen (if you like yours crisp and starched) and anything that shouldn’t be doused with water. Because toxic solvents are used in the process, it’s best to remove your clothes from the plastic covers and let them air. And ditch those horrid wire hangers!

So shoe me

Keep shoes and boots in the shape the designers intended with diligent use of shoe trees and boot shapers (Jones the Bootmakers have a good selection) and again, apply the rotation theory by resting shoes in between wear.

Keep shoes in their original boxes or head to Muji and snap up some cheap and cheerful storage. For the organised footwear fetishist, a Polaroid shot of the shoe provides for speedy shoe selection.

Do your admin

One final word. Just think how gutted you’d be if you (literally) lost the shirt off your back. Check your insurance policy to see if your wardrobe is covered against disaster, theft and loss. Do a quick calculation of its value of your wardrobe and check you’re not under-insured.