When you love clothes and shoes and dressing as much as I do, you spend nearly as much time thinking about the preservation and presentation of your pieces as you do actually wearing them. After all, the devil is in the details.
I don’t care if your shoes are from Pucci or Payless…if the heels are worn down and scuffed, it kills the whole look. That Armani suit? Wrinkles will destroy the facade every time.
For most serious fashion addicts, the kind of sartorial degradation I described above rarely occurs—most of us have an eye for detail that extends to clothing preparation—or at least a good dry cleaner. But sometimes, not everything can be laundered, pressed, and starched to perfection. Or maybe you’ve never thought about what you should do from day one to preserve your most beloved wardrobe staples.
These are my tried-and-true tips for looking after your carefully curated collection—and looking great even when you don’t have an iron.
My Top Wardrobe-Saving Tips
1. Meet your new iron—a refillable spray bottle.
I have spray bottles at home and I always pack an empty one when I travel, because 99% of the time misting your clothing with plain old water is enough to remove wrinkles. Forget hanging outfits in the bathroom and “steaming” the wrinkles out while you shower—you’d have to shower for hours in a sealed room to actually get most wrinkles to fall out.
When traveling, as soon as I’m in my hotel room, I unpack, mist anything that’s wrinkled, and hang it in the closet. By the time I need to wear my clothes, they are wrinkle-free. The only clothing this trick isn’t good for is formal wear and suiting…though I have misted silk dresses without issue.
2. Your leather shoes have dirt on the heels (and need a serious shine). Enter leather wipes.
Most women never have their boots or shoes shined, and unless they are going to the repair shop each season, honey, they need it. Of course, I can hardly see y’all pulling out the black polish and brush, so instead, go to Target and buy some Weiman Leather Wipes (or any leather wipes). They are fantastic for removing grime while also moisturizing and shining your leather (not suede) shoes. They are also superb for cleaning and conditioning leather handbags.
The other day I pulled a out a pair of five-year-old boots for the first time this season, and—SHOCK!—they had some mud on the heels (where on earth did I wear them last?). Anyway, a quick wipe and they were clean and off to work I went.
3. Enjoy wearing your new designer shoes a couple times. Then have protective soles put on them, immediately.
When my Louboutin Pigalle 120s arrived in the mail, I absolutely could not wait to wear them, so I did. Then I watched as my beautiful red soles began to show bald patches, despite the fact that I literally only wore them twice. So I ordered red Vibram half-soles from Save Your Sole and took them to my trusty shoe repair to have them put on. Turned out that the soles I ordered were a little too thick, but my shoe repair stocks red Vibram soles anyway (natch). Now I wear them with confidence knowing they’re protected, and that we’ll make a lot entrances and lovely memories together.
Actually, my Loubis aren’t the only kicks in my closet getting that kind of TLC. I have protective soles put on ALL my shoes and boots, and I have the heel tips replaced regularly. As a result, I’ve never parted with any of my higher-end shoes—proof that expensive shoes are usually worth the investment, and taking care of them means you’ll probably have them forever.
Another tip: Take shoes to the repair in the opposite season that you wear them. Boots should go in for heel tips/soles (as needed) in spring or summer; sandals and open toes in fall or winter. That way you’re never without your go-to pairs when you really need them, and they are fresh, clean, and ready to go for next season.
4. Now that the outside of your shoes are covered, protect the inside with crystal foot spray.
Even if you didn’t gift yourself some Choos, that’s no matter. If you bought cheap shoes, it’s even MORE important that you start using Crystal Foot Deodorant Spray, stat.
Cheap shoes are usually lined with synthetics (ew), which means your feet sweat and there’s no where for that sweat to go (double ew). If you wear shoes without socks or hosiery, or even with them, eventually they will begin to smell—oh, how to put it delicately—a little less than fresh.
If you’ve invested in an expensive pair of shoes, you can safely use crystal foot deodorant spray—which is 100% natural, colorless, and odorless—every time you wear them. Just spray on the bottoms of your feet and put the shoes on. It’s OK if they’re a little damp; it goes away in a few minutes and you can wear them for 10 hours and you will NOT have stinky shoes or feet!
For years I sprinkled Gold Bond powder in my pumps since I loathe the feeling of sweating in my shoes—but eventually it cakes and really does a number on leather-lined shoes. Crystal foot deodorant spray is like the best invention, ever. Trust, kiddies. You need.
5. Your black trousers are covered in lint—and you don’t have a lint roller. Think: water!
One of the things I love most about upscale restaurants is that they offer black linen napkins to their patrons. Makes sense given most men wear dark trousers, and black pants and skirts are the foundation of nearly every woman’s closet. Whether you’re covered in lint from that pesky white napkin, or you’re traveling and forgot your lint brush, have no fear: you are a human lint brush! Here’s what you do:
A. Go the closest bathroom.
B. Place your hands under running water, then wipe them over the linty areas.
C. Rinse your hands to remove the lint you picked up, and repeat until you’re in the clear.
What are your wardrobe-saving secrets? Do share!