Protecting your clothing investment is a matter of making smart shopping decisions and taking proper care of clothes purchased.
Back to basics: Stay away from trends or fads. Buy basic items that are classics and that will look good year in and year out. Make sure each new item works with at least one other item in your closet.
'Tis the season: Buy seasonal clothing off season when it is on sale. Don't wait until the hottest day of summer to buy a swimsuit or the first snow to buy a warm coat.
From the book: Catalog shopping can save time. Catalog sales have increased steadily since 1987. Some companies even offer sales. Be sure you know return policies in case colors or fit don't work out.
Male order: For certain unisex items - pullover sweaters, T-shirts, for example - you can often find them for less in the men's or boy's departments. Generally, a man's size medium is equivalent to a woman's size 12-14; and a man's size small is about a woman's size 8-10.
Recycling: Update your outdated clothes by changing small features - shorten a skirt or spruce up a blouse or suit jacket with new buttons.
Cleaning up: Check care labels. Remember to figure in costs of dry-clean-only in counting the costs of those clothes.
Planning pays off: Go through closets regularly to know what you and your family have and what items go together. Then, make a set plan prioritizing clothing needs. With this plan, you can take advantage of sales and show around to find exactly what you like at the best price and avoid making purchases by impulse.
CARE FOR YOUR CLOTHES
Proper laundry care: Follow the manufacturer's care label instructions. Try turning your clothes inside out before washing - it minimizes abrasion on fabric surfaces and reduces wear. Use smaller loads and gentler cycles to help extend the life and looks of your clothes. Clean your clothes as soon as they get dirty before stains set in and do permanent damage. Choose laundry products that reduce fading and fuzzing.
Delicate care: Pack your fine lingerie and hosiery in plastic bags for traveling so they won't snag on other items. Place these and other delicate items in a mesh bag to protect them in the washing machine.
Handsome hand-me-downs: Hand-me-downs can be a great way to stretch the family clothing dollar. If an item needs alternation or repair, fix it immediately so the problems doesn't get worse.
Spray sense: Perfume and hair spray can cause permanent damage to fabrics, especially silks. Put a towel over your blouse or dress before spraying.
Do a clothes check: Before putting your clothes into the washing machine, close zippers and fasten hooks to prevent snagging. Brush lint from pockets and cuffs before washing to keep it from getting on other wash. And be sure to empty pockets.
Turtleneck tips: Turn turtlenecks inside out before washing so the soil on the neck area will come right out.
Watch what you wear: Wear an apron or change your good clothes before cooking or cleaning. Set aside an old pair of jeans and a sweatshirt to wear for especially dirty jobs. But sure to place heavily soiled or greasy work clothes in a separate hamper from your dress clothes and wash them separately.
Fold, don't hang. Don't hang knitted garments and sweaters. This causes them to lose shape, get worn around the shoulders and sag in the hemline. Instead, fold them and store them away from direct sunlight or at least fold the garment over a padded hanger.