When it comes to fashion, it’s all very well knowing about the latest jewellery trend and where to buy a leopard-print dress from, but sometimes you just want to know about the practical stuff. The essential stuff. The day-to-day stuff. It might not be quite as glamorous, but it sure is useful. So, with that in mind, I’ve rounded up the fashion questions that I am most commonly asked and endeavoured to provide straightforward answers in a bid to make life just that little bit easier.
1 How do you get creases out without an iron?
One of the best things you could ever buy yourself is a handheld steamer. These use water steam to iron out creases without the need for an actual iron, plus, they’re quick. Thanks to years spent steaming clothes in fashion cupboard, I am well versed in this area and can tell you that the very best one is Fridja’s f10 handheld clothes steamer. It’s expensive (usually £99 but currently around £70 on Groupon), but it’s quick, powerful and doesn’t drip (which tends to happen with steamers). It’s also great for delicate fabrics like silk, which can be tricky to iron, plus, because it’s so little, you can also take it on holiday with you.
2 How do I wash delicate fabrics?
The proper answer to this is to handwash. Buy a bottle of special handwash detergent and wash your delicates in a sink of cold water. However, if the thought of handwashing makes you weep then here’s the cheats’ guide courtesy of Good Housekeeping. Close any fastenings on your delicate (eg hook-up bras, button-up buttons) to prevent snagging and put them into a mesh laundry bag (if you don’t have one of those, I use a pillowcase). Set your washing machine to the shortest, gentlest spin cycle and set the water temperature to whatever the care label says (usually 30ºC). Stick in a few towels to balance the load and add washing detergent (GH say you can use regular detergent). Once done, lay the delicates flat to dry to avoid them getting misshapen.
Whatever you do, read the washing instructions on your clothes. It sounds boring, but no one wants to ruin their stuff in the wash. Here’s our guide to understanding what all of those care labels mean. And for a genius tip on washing tights, read this.
3 How can I find clothes that fit me?
Increasingly erratic sizes of high-street shops means that finding clothes that fit isn’t all that straightforward. When trying clothes on, a) ignore size labels and instead pick up what looks like is going to fit; and b) buy to fit the biggest/broadest part of your body, then you can always get something tailored to fit everywhere else (it’s easier to take in then let out.)
When it comes to finding a decent tailor, the universal number one tip is to get a personal recommendation – if you live in London, then head to Atelier Colpani, as recommended by editor Sam, or try Dressed Queer, who specialise in adapting non-gender binary clothes. It’s also worth asking the retailer you’re buying from if they offer an alteration service because brands such as Reiss and Uniqlo do.
If you’re on the look out for a new tailor/alterations service, then it’s worth popping in and asking to see an example of something that has been tailored, keeping an eye out for loose threads and shoddy stitching. A friend of mine once told me to ask prospective tailors if they can shorten a jacket sleeve from the shoulder, as this is one of the most difficult alteration and will sort the wheat from the chaff.
If length is your issue (or you're in a real rush) then buy yourself a packet of Wundaweb and read this.
4 My leather bag is starting to fray at the edges, how can I fix it?
Get yourself a bottle of Edge Kote. This is a clear, flexible coating that will smooth and finish frayed edges. Trim off the frayed bits then paint on the Edge Kote and leave to dry. Voilà!
If you’re bag is looking very knackered, then let me introduce you to The Restory. One of the best things I’ve discovered in ages, The Restory is a service that fixes knackered bags and shoes and makes them look as good as new again. They reheel, clean, recolour faded patches, repair holes, replace straps – basically, they do everything. They’re not cheap, but the results are amazing and if it’s something you love, then in my opinion they’re worth it.
5 The zip on my jeans keep falling down – how can I stop it?
Find a metal key ring and loop it on to the little hole on the end of your zip. Pull your zip up and loop the key ring over the button on the waistband of your jeans. Then do the button up.
6 How can I easily add extra holes to my leather belt?
The easiest way to do this is to buy a leather hole punch for around £10 on Amazon, which comes with different settings to make different-sized holes. Mark where you want your new hole and punch away. Alternatively, get your belt, turn it the wrong way up and lie it on a scrap piece of wood. Find a nail a similar size to the hole you want then, holding the belt in place, knock the nail through with a hammer. You can also use an electric drill; find the drill bit that fits snugly into the existing belt holes.
7 How do I clean my Converse?
Don’t put them in the washing machine. I know – yawn – but washing machines will warp the soles and, eventually, crack the glue that sticks everything together. Instead try using a mixture of equal parts baking soda, white toothpaste and white washing detergent with a splash of warm water. Remove laces, then, using a toothbrush or nail brush, scrub the trainers with the mixture, rising once done. As for the laces, either soak them for a couple of hours in a bowl of water with the toothpaste/baking/soda/toothpaste mix, or buy a new pair (in my experience, they never come up clean). For more tips on cleaning white shoes, watch our how-to guide here.
8 How to get pollen out of clothes? I love lilies, but they ruin me.
Step 1: Shake the thing you’ve got pollen on out of a window to get as much off as possible. Don’t touch the stain with your fingers, as the oil from your skin will make it worse.
Step 2: Lift off the remaining pollen with a piece of sticky tape – stick the tape over the stain then peel it off. Repeat as many times as you need. If you have a vacuum nozzle to hand, this also works – hold it just above the stain and suck.
Step 3: If you can still see a stain, rinse it with cold water from the inside of the garment out, and leave it to dry in direct sunlight (this should help bleach any remaining yellowness).
9 How do I get deodorant stains out of my black dress?
If you’ve caught the deodorant stains early, a damp cloth should do the trick. If you have a pair of tights to hand, then then stick your hand up a leg and rub it over the stain – this will get rid of white marks. If you’ve left the stain for a while, then dab white wine vinegar on to the stain, give it a gentle scrub with a toothbrush and then chuck your dress in the wash. If you get yellow stains in the armpits of your white shirts/T-shirts, then switch to a deodorant that doesn’t contain aluminium. It’s this that turns things yellow.
10 How do I clean suede things?
If you own anything suede, then you need to immediately get yourself Jason Markk Suede Cleaning Kit. This transformed my black suede slingbacks from completely trashed to almost as good as new, after I made the ill-judged decision to wear them to a wedding reception. Rub the eraser into stains, then brush them away with the little brush. For more suede salvaging ideas, read this.
11 How do I stop my shoes from rubbing?
Speaking as someone with a giant scab on her right big toe and half of her left heel missing, I’m really not sure the answer to this question exists. New shoes rub, old shoes rub, all shoes rub (apart from the below from Castañer – aka the comfiest shoes in the world). For a few ideas on how to lessen the dreaded foot rub, check out our gif guide.
12 Who does the best white T-shirt?
If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be rich enough to buy my own T-shirt factory. The perfect white tee is outrageously hard to find. At the beginning of the year I stated that Cos does the best high-street iteration and to this I stay true.
13 What is smart/casual?
The oft implemented yet frustratingly ambiguous dress code, doing smart/casual is a pain in the arse. Generally, smart/casual means neat and polished but low-key; however, there is no hard and fast rule – ask a different person and get a different definition. From all my years of grappling with it, here’s what I tend to stick to: jeans are OK as long as they are black/indigo and have no rips/holes. T-shirts are a no unless they have jazzy bits on like sequins. Blazers are handy for throwing over nearly anything to provide the “smart” element. Flat shoes are fine as long as they’re not a flip-flop (made that mistake before). You can’t go wrong with a midi dress, especially this one. Don’t bother with a clutch bag – you will leave it in the loo. A swipe of lipstick works wonders – keep one in your bag just in case.
14 How do I get lipstick out of my white top?
Talk of the devil… Apparently, the best way to get rid of a lipstick stain is to spray the offending area with hairspray, leave it for a bit (10-15 mins), then dab at it with a damp cloth or rise under the tap.
15 Where can I find a leather bag that doesn’t cost the earth?
This gets harder and harder to answer, as bags seem to continually climbing in price. However, you can get a good-quality handbag that will last without spending a fortune. John Lewis is reinventing its own brand fashion label this autumn and, as part of that, will be offering beautifully designed, leather bags starting from £70. The saddle shoulder bag (£120) is a real find. They launch on 4 September, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, check out Hannah Rochell’s round-up of the bags that don’t cost a fortune and will last, which includes Mimi Berry's crossy body bag.
16 How do I get more space in my wardrobe?
Of all the wardrobe-sorting features I’ve read (and written), the best tip I’ve ever picked up is space-saving hangers. Ditch the clunky wooden ones and those horrible wire things and pick up a pack of thin, velvet, space-saving hangers. The difference they make to an overstuffed wardrobe is remarkable.