Tips to extend the life span of your favorite clothes and accessories.

By Sarah Jio
Updated February 03, 2009
Scratched shoe on pink striped background
Credit: Alexandra Rowley
  • Store clothing properly. The biggest concerns are insects and mold. “Most basements and attics lack the adequate temperature and humidity control,” says John Claude Hallak, president of Hallak Cleaners, in New York City. However, he adds, “if you would be comfortable sleeping there, then the area is probably safe for wardrobe storage.” Whatever you do, don’t use plastic containers. They trap moisture, which leads to mold growth. “Store clothing in a zipped-up, breathable garment bag,” recommends Mark-Alan Harmon, creative director for Better yet, add a lavender sachet to the bag. “Lavender provides the same protection from moths as cedar, except that you can refresh its effectiveness every time you squeeze it, whereas cedar loses its odor after several months,” says Harmon.
  • Stuff knee-high boots to prevent creases. Mary Lou Andre, author of Ready to Wear: An Expert’s Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe (Perigee Books, $17), suggests using boot shapers ($12, so the tops of boots don’t flop over. “On a budget? Use rolled-up magazines to get the job done,” she says.
  • Protect canvas shoes. To repel stains, Mike Morelli, owner of Brooks Shoe Service, in Chicago, recommends spraying canvas with a fabric protectant before wearing. “That way, dirt won’t become embedded in the fibers, and it makes the shoes easier to clean,” he says.
  • Keep jewelry in top condition. Instead of using a harsh cleaner, try the following suggestions from Helena Krodel, a spokesperson for the Jewelry Information Center, in New York City. For diamonds: Pour vodka into a glass, swish the jewelry in it, rinse with water, and pat dry with a paper towel. For porous gemstones, like opals: Use a simple solution of soap and water. For pearls: Wipe with a dry cloth―no water required. (Make sure pearls are stored separately from metal and gemstone jewelry, which can scratch them.) To stop sterling silver from oxidizing, slip 3M Anti-Tarnish Strips ($11 for 16, into the jewelry box.