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Katie Trotter: Make do and mend

Tips on how to keep your clothes looking good, and lasting longer.

For a long time we have lived in a disposable society; instead of buying clothes with looks that improve with time, we selected items based on a small price tag. It was a time when it was cheaper to throw out and start again than to repair or revitalise.

However, the current climate has altered our shopping habits dramatically. For a start, we are now investing. What we spend our cash on is important, crucial even, so it is imperative to understand how to look after what we have.

First, be ruthless and throw out those things you don't wear. If you are unsure of what to throw out, organise your wardrobe so that all the hangers face the same way. After wearing the item, return it to the wardrobe with the hanger in the other direction; at the end of whatever time frame you set, you will see how much (or how little) of your wardrobe you are actually wearing.

Also, cast out anything that has either started to lose its shape or isn't comfortable; you know, the dress that is too tight at the armhole or the shirt that you can't raise your arms in.

Once we have things filtered down to the bare bones we can then look into how to look after what we have chosen to keep. Start with your hangers - they should always be wooden and at least 15 millimetres thick. Wire hangers can permanently damage your clothing by creating unsightly creases.

Before you put your suit jacket, skirt or trousers back in your wardrobe, give it a quick brush with a specialised clothing brush. It will only take 30 seconds yet, it will remove any dirt that has gathered on the outer layers before it has the chance to settle into the fabric.

If you don't have time to do things correctly when it comes to washing, leave the garment with a specialised laundry service. If this option is too expensive, make sure to always separate colours from whites - even light pastels are a firm no, as the faintest hint of dye from another garment will ruin your whites. Pure soap with a handful of bicarbonate (baking) soda is a great way to look after whites rather than some of the more common bleaching agents.

Try to avoid the dryer as colours will fade and the risk of shrinkage, however slight, is always there. We live in the perfect climate for drying in sunlight, which is actually a successful natural disinfectant, so use it to your advantage. But make sure they are hung out of sight, because there is a fine in Abu Dhabi for clothes drying on balconies.

If you accidently shrink your woollens, there is still a possibility of saving them. Lay the garment out flat and stretch it into its original shape. Then take an end - one in each hand - and slowly pull along the line of the weft. As the garment narrows you'll need to do the same across the weave. Depending on the level of shrinkage you may get it back to its original shape.

When it comes to stains, the faster it is dealt with, the better. For a lipstick stain, blot with a baby wipe or a washcloth with a splash of rubbing alcohol. For any kind of food stain or oil, cover with baby powder (or an equivalent that will soak up any excess) immediately and allow it to sit for an hour. Later, brush it off and apply a stain remover before washing in the hottest water the fabric can stand.

Lastly, for repairing any damage, a tailor is more than always your best option. Minor holes can be fixed fairly easily, especially if it's along a seam. However, things get a little more complex with a larger hole, especially in wool as it has to be rewoven.

The simple fact is this: well-made garments should and will last for decades. All it takes is a bit of discipline.

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