So if you're like my sister-in-law you are wondering several things:
a. Why do you spend so much money on clothes? You are crazy.
b. How do you maintain these expensive quality items without destroying them
Well...I'll be honest - it's not easy. I used to be that shopper who went into the store and was like, "that's cute, I want it." Then I would come home to find out it was dry clean only or hand wash. Ugh. Who has the money to dry clean all of their clothes or the time to hand wash 20 sweaters. Not me - and I definitely don't have the space for it these days.
That's why I always read the label - especially when it comes to the type of clothing it has. If it's an item I'm going to wear to work every once in awhile like a suit or sweater, I don't mind if it's dry clean only. When it's a seasonal or occasion item, I normally take it to the dry cleaners at the end of the season along with my dry clean only coats. This is a great way to prep your items for storage. However, if it's an item like a dress or top that I know I will be wearing out (and hence will risk being around smoke, alcohol, and damage) I put it back on the rack. Those items HAVE to be dry cleaned after every wear. And if you put it back in your closet, chances are some of your other items are going to need to be dry cleaned during your next trip. And no one likes a three digit dry cleaning bill.
Hand wash items are easy if you have a decent washer and dryer these days. Even though it's annoying to buy 20 different kind of detergent - invest in Woolite! It's honestly the best invention ever. I prefer the Kroger knock off version because it's half the price for the same amount and quality of detergent. I always pair my delicates (bras and undies) and my hand wash only clothes in the same load on the gentle or hand wash cycle. The trick is to not dry these items - if you do, you'll be handing them down to your teen sister, your pet dog...you get the idea. It's also a great idea to do a separate load of jeans on the same load settings. If you turn them inside out and run them on gentle you are sure to maintain that extra special distressing or dark rinse you paid extra for!
What about embellishments and those little extra adornments that hypnotize you in the store but loose their luster and quality after one wear? Here's the most important bit of advice I have for you. If you wear the piece once or twice and it's already starting to deteriorate - take it back. If you got it at Target or Forever 21 they are probably going to look at you and say, "So what?" - however, if it's from a higher end store like Nordstrom or Anthropologie they will more than likely give you your money back or provide an in store credit. Higher end stores know that customers come to them for quality and they want to maintain that relationship - therefore you are always right! Don't take advantage though...because then they might grow suspicious! When it comes to caring for the items - read the label. If it's a less expensive item then try the gentle cycle in your washer & dryer. However, if it's an expensive item opt for dry cleaning. A great way to make the final determination is to examine how the piece is attached. If it appears pretty secure it will more than likely be okay in the washer. Sometimes it's a chance you have to be willing to take...
Lastly, your shoes. I can't tell you how many times I have been burned by shoes. However, higher end brands want you to be happy and want you to come back for more. On several occasions I have had shoes that did not mix with my lifestyle. I would wear them once and the leather would be ruined. Finally, I called Nordstrom to explain what had gone on. They assured me that as long as I had the box I could return the shoes and receive a refund or in store credit. It was super easy - the important thing to remember is to keep all of your paperwork...especially if they are more than $100. That's a big loss that you don't want to risk. Additionally, when a certain shoe suggests a care item like the Ugg sheepskin care set - ask more questions. If you think you're not going to wear the boots or shoes more than one season than skip it. However, if you want to keep these shoes looking great for several years - invest in the set. It makes a world of difference if you want to keep your shoes looking brand new years later.
So there you have it - by maintenance wisdom straight to your computer. Now you don't have to be so leery of spending a little extra the next time you are at the mall - just ask the right questions, take the right steps, and be responsible. Your clothes just may outlive you!