Lifewise Style Magazine

By MARY MARTIN NIEPOLD, Associated Press — Stains and poor storage are two things that can effectively shrink your wardrobe as fast as an extra 20 pounds. But all it takes to help your clothes go the distance is a shift in the way you think about them.

Move from careless to careful, and your clothes become the investment they were meant to be.
Steve Boorstein, known as the “clothing doctor,” is a fourth-generation drycleaner who operated a top dry cleaning establishment in Washington, D.C. for 16 years, so he knows the worst — and best — about clothes.

Today, he counts Chanel, Nordstrom’s and Joan & David as clients who bought multiple copies of his book, Ultimate Guide to Shopping & Caring for Clothes (Boutique Books) for their colleagues. Most recently, he began hosting a call-in radio show by the same name.

“The secret is building your wardrobe and maintaining it,” says Boorstein. “That’s my whole philosophy.”

Storing and cleaning are his specialities. They’re also the tools that will keep clothes looking their best and lasting for more than one season:

Storage: According to Boorstein, “The biggest mistake when storing is not cleaning before you store.” He says that if you put a garment away that has something on it for even five minutes — everything from perspiration, foodstuffs, body oils, deodorant — it immediately becomes foodstuff for insects. “Whatever could possibly be part of a human or have food quality becomes insect bait,” Boorstein says.

Another danger is that people store clothes with old stains. He says that a person simply forgets there may be a stain on a certain piece, wears it for a while, then puts it away. He says to inspect your clothes immediately after wearing and get those that are soiled to a reputable cleaner (or washing machine) as quickly as possible.

Take collar or cuff soil. This could be perfume, a splatter of oil, a squirt of lemon juice. Boorstein explains that these are called “invisible stains.” They’re invisible at first, but over time, through oxidation and heat, take on colour. Oxidation is the process that happens, say, to an apple. You take a bite and within five minutes, it has started turning brown. With clothing, these oxidized stains become exponentially worse if left in a closet or drawer without cleaning.

“Pull your clothing out each season and inspect it,” he advises. If there are stains, get them cleaned before storage. Best, get everything cleaned before storing.

If you’re storing at home, avoid plastic or nylon garment bags since they don’t let clothing breathe. When there’s extra moisture, two things happen. Stains become extra bait for insects and mildew, and they may show colour even faster. Also, your closet or drawers must be thoroughly cleaned before storage since insects thrive in dust or cobwebs.