Winter can be a challenge for us fashion-forward folks. The harsh temperatures and daily wintry mixes make it difficult to style yourself beneath so many added layers of cold weather gear.
So, since it’s not in the budget to suit up like your favorite celeb heading out on a lavish ski trip every day, the only option is to dress the very best in the most sensible way possible, and whether you’re a fashionista or not, you need to consider how nature’s elements are going to affect the quality of your clothing and footwear.
This is important for a number of reasons, right? One being that you’ve got to treat your garments properly so that they last. Pricier products like leather and suede need to be cared for appropriately before you send those boots walkin’ in six inches of fresh powder.
Let’s break it down and see what we can do to survive the rest of this winter and to make sure our wardrobe comes out on top with us.
Protect yo’ leather
At this point in the season, you’ve probably noticed your leather loafers or ankle-length booties are starting to accumulate a ring of white, dry salt around the toe and heel of your shoes. The salt not only stains your footwear, but also can dry out the leather and cause it to crack. To salvage your current pair, try this trick to remove the salt:
Cold water (1 cup)
White wine vinegar (1 tablespoon
Small glass and spoon for mixing
Small cotton towel
Combine the water and vinegar before dipping the towel into the mixture, using the towel to lightly wipe the surface of the boots to remove the layer of salt. Once the stains dissolve, let the shoes dry on their own.
But in the future, it’s a must to pre-spray your favorite shoes with leather protector to repel water and salt during the winter months. In the past, I’ve used Frye Weatherproof Spray and Leather Conditioning Cream, both cost $10 and are available online.
Help the suede stay styling
Suede differs from leather in that water is not going to help keep it clean, it’s actually going to make it worse. Instead, you should use a suede sealant, like Kiwi Protector, to repel dirt and other nuisances. And if you want to get fancy to keep your favorite pair looking as pristine as possible, you can grab yourself a horsehair brush and use it to revive the suede back to its brand-new state. Jason Markk’s Suede Cleaning Kit for $12 (right) comes complete with full-on suede protection.
Go easy with the washing machine (and outfit repeating)
We all embrace sweater weather since it’s the #1 fashion fix on a cold winter day. But you can’t just throw those guys in the washing machine after every single wear like jeans or a pair of socks. Don’t tell anyone, but I hardly wash my sweaters at all. Fabrics like wool or cashmere don’t belong in the wash, and even your sale rack sweater shouldn’t be put through a heavy spin cycle week after week.
If you have to wash your sweaters (which I know is inevitable at some point), try spot cleaning to remove a stain or go the extra mile and hand wash them. Not sure how to do it? check out Eileen Fisher’s guide for hand washing.
The last thing I’ll say about keeping your winter sweaters in good shape is to give them a break every once and a while! Though not everyone has the most robust wardrobe, your clothes will become tired, stretched out, pilled and worn if you repeat too often. My best advice would be to make your favorite garments a part of the rotation, but switch it up every once and a while to let them rest. It’s in your best financial interest to invest in a few more pieces and wear each one less to preserve the quality and value.
Keep your down coats in top shape
Your favorite North Face, Patagonia or Canada Goose down jacket likely has tiny little feathers inside from a duck or a goose. If you own one of these coats, you know how expensive they can be, ranging between $250 to $900. That alone is enough of a reason to take extra, super good care of them. When it’s time to throw on of these in the wash, you have a couple of options:
- Get it professionaly cleaned (sometimes better safe than sorry is the way to go).
- Do it yourself on a gentle washer setting with warm water. Don’t sweat it if it takes a few extra spin cycles to remove all the water, and when it’s done, air dry it or tumble dry on very low heat. To keep the fluffiness of the jacket intact, throw some tennis balls in the dryer with it. (Full instructions here).
So no excuses, folks. You’ve got plenty of time to use since America’s favorite groundhog ordered six more weeks of winter. Your garments keep you warm and styling so treat them with love, and keep yourself from smelling or looking completely unacceptable to the public.