There’s still a couple of weeks to run around in Havaianas and slivers of tie-dyed Indian cotton before the temperatures sink to single digits. This year, I suggest we be prepared. The list below looks daunting, but it’s not like I’m asking you to daily fold your socks to make them autonomously stand up in the drawers as Marie Kondo would have it. The below needs to be done once a year.
Take care of your cashmere
– Cashmere (or wool) barely needs washing (unless, of course, you have spilled a blood-red negroni on your cream Loro Piana deal). What it does need regularly is airing. Hang outside and let it breathe the fresh air on a Saturday morning while you busy yourself folding Hermès scarves back into their orange boxes. Speaking of: silk does not need constant washing, either.
– Today’s washing machines are sophisticated enough to have a delicates/wool cycle in which to wash cashmere when you must do so. Make the tedious chore more appealing by buying the best special detergent available. Remember afterwards: Stretch the knits back into their right measurements and always, always dry flat. Wet wool weighs a ton and your knits will stretch into oblivion if you hang them to dry.
-Cashmere pills, it’s a fact of life. Get yourself a cashmere comb. Whatever you do in life, for Lord’s name do not get one of those battery-run spawns of Satan that are supposed to shave the pills off your cashmere. Moths will show more respect for your cashmere than the horrible, evil gadgets that are good for absolutely nothing.
A few, brisk downward strokes with a comb, followed by a good airing and your cashmere will look (and feel) brand new.
– Cashmere feels lush against bare skin, but sweat, creams, perfume and grease are corrosive to the delicate fibre. To make cashmere last longer, always wear at least a singlet/camisole underneath. You do not want your favourite knit to start smelling like an ill-curated second-hand garage.
Mend your stuff
I acknowledge the fact that not everybody is as ridiculously crafty as I am. The small room dedicated to haberdashery is the pride and, somewhat sadly, joy, of my apartment. (When the Armageddon comes and everybody runs out of canned tuna, I have enough colour-coded ribbons and tissue-papers, neatly organised in see-through boxes, to distract every person in this world from starvation.)
-A missing button is not an excuse to buy a new shirt. It needs to be sewn back on. Tip: remove the extra buttons that have maddeningly been attached to the care labels of your garments. They will make holes and mark the fabric.
– Blazers and overcoats are usually lined. Fun fact: the lining can (and should) be replaced. I do not suggest you embark on this task on your own, but instead take them to a place where people do it for you. Very often the outer fabric is in top shape and by refreshing the lining you’ve got yourself a new coat! Go for contrasting colour/stripes for fun. Look at Gucci/Versace AW19/20 ads for inspiration.
– If the shop assistant is ignorant and leaves the unsightly darning stitches on the lapels and slits of skirts and jackets, make sure to remove them as soon as you get home. Astonishingly many people go about their lives wearing coats that pull at the hem just because they seem to think that the big fat cross-stitch at the back is an ornamental feature.
Resole and re-heel shoes
– Find a decent cobbler. A “Mister Minit” in the vestibule of your local shopping centre is not it. I am sparing you from heart-breaking and expensive trials and errors. Ask around for a good cobbler. They do exist.
– Forget the gimmicky stick-ons for “more comfort” and “slipping control”. You do not need to stick weird bits of silicone or foam rubber inside your heels. Mainly because they don’t work, they are expensive and they will ruin your (expensive) tights. Do like Meghan (and me) and buy high heels half a size bigger. It lets your feet swell and you won’t get uncomfortable. If you need more grip, wear fishnets/lace tights.
- Cashmere comb
- Cashmere/silk/wool washing detergent
- A basic sewing kit (we all have to start from somewhere)