Autumn wardrobe revamp: Part 1

walk in wardrobe horrorsHave you noticed that there’s a nip in the air lately? Well, there’s no excuse for that sort of behaviour, especially since you can buy ‘fashion tape’ for next to nothing in Poundland. Cover up love, you’ll catch your death.

Where was I? Oh yes, the Autumn is upon us. It’s time to change over your wardrobe, and enjoy the new season – ideally getting the most style out of it for the least money.

To start with, let’s exhume last year’s stuff and see what can be reanimated this time around. You might be in for a pleasant surprise (unless you put your woollies away without moth protection, in which case, bleurgh).

Wash, dry and put away those favourite summery clothes to make some more room for mixing and matching, and to keep the clutter to a minimum. Tuck them in for a long snooze with some acid-free tissue paper and a few fresh anti-moth sachets. Yes, the little creeps like silk and fine cottons for breakfast before they move on to the cashmere, so don’t enourage them.

Then it’s time to break out:

  • Transitional stuff: shoes, cardigans, macs
  • Winter boots and shoes
  • Winter bags
  • Winter woollies and other clothes
  • Warm coats
  • Scarves, hats, gloves
  • Hosiery
  • Party wear and accessories

Have a quick look in the bottom of the laundry bin, or the ironing or mending pile too, in case there’s something you’d forgotten about in there.

If you put everything away clean and neat then there won’t be too much to do. Start by going through everything and deciding whether you want to wear it this season, sell it, give it away, or store it.

Fashions for women this season include grunge, punk, ladylike, boy meets girl, tweedy, minimalist, monochrome, pastels, sporty, photographic-style prints, and highly embellished and ornate. Have a trawl around fashion blogs and magazine websites for some inspiration: you’ll probably have quite a few older clothes that still fit the bill this year, whatever your style.

Make it all work together

Next, think ‘outfit’: look at each garment or accessory and imagine complete outfits that it could be part of. Do you have items that you love but don’t wear because there’s nothing that goes with them? Would you wear them regularly if you did have things that went with them?

Make a note of any urgent missing items that you might need to buy. To get the best value for money, try to think of three different outfits that you can make with each new item, to see whether the purchase is a good idea or not.

Then work out which items you need to mend, freshen up, alter, or upcycle – mend at least one item before the week is out, and make a trip to buy any extra mending or upcycling materials at the weekend.

Warm and toasty

Air your stored jackets and coats to freshen them up, ideally on a sturdy hanger pegged to an outdoor washing line. A little Febreezee might be needed, but that should be all. If they aren’t clean, get them away to the dry cleaner or wash the washable ones before the end of the week.

I always give my woollies a quick wash with supermarket own-brand delicates liquid when I get them out of storage. I turn them inside out, put them into laundry bags like the ones you can buy for washing hosiery and then run them on a short, cool silk wash programme before drying them flat.

If there’s any pilling or bobbling on your knits, try using a de-bobbler from a department store to whisk it away. Use a very light hand with it and never press down firmly onto the fabric beneath, as it’s easier than you might think to cut holes in the garment itself.

Freshened-up footwear

Stored leather goods will need a bit of a feed at this point as well. Give leather shoes and boots a good clean with some traditional leather polish, and wipe down fabric or synthetic ones with a very slightly dampened cloth. Suede needs a little steam and a brush with a suede brush to bring the nap back up, followed by a good dose of suede protector spray.

Now is the time to take shoes and boots to the menders if they need re-heeling or re-soling. That way you prevent any further damage, and you should have the full use of them throughout the whole season so you’ll get your money’s worth.

If you have any scratched patent leather, go into a branch of Clarks shoes and pick up a little bottle of their own brand Patent Leather Restorer. It’s cheap, easy to use, comes in a range of colours and works really well to hide scuffs and scrapes. A bottle of this stuff lasts for years and years.

I also give leather bags and belts a quick feed with a tiny, tiny bit of colourless Boston leather cream to keep them supple. You can use good quality waterproofing products such as Collonil Waterstop to keep anything special looking special too.

Holey tights and socks should probably be chucked out (many charity shops recycle the fabric). I know I should perhaps be telling you to get darning, but big darned areas scratch against the skin on your feet and aren’t very comfortable or good for you. Once they’ve gone past the point of no return, unless you’re desperate for cash, it’s time for some new ones.

Next time, I’ll be looking at some new ways to bring your wardrobe up to date on a budget this season. I’ll be picking things that cost £10 or less, and give you plenty of impact.

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