by Gabrielle Manschester

One of the many joys of consignment shopping is finding that perfect piece. The question then is always, once you’ve tracked down your must haves, how do you ensure that they stay looking their best? Working in resale, I frequently get questions from consignors about keeping their items in salable condition and from customers about maintaining their new-to-you fabulous finds. Last issue, I addressed how to care for leather goods. This bevy of tips and tricks is dedicated to the repair, alteration, and care of consignment clothing.

Clothing Alteration and Repair Tips
Sometimes you find a piece at consignment and it was as if it was made just for you: the arms are the perfect length, it doesn’t pull at the bust or the hips, and the waist is just so. Other times, the price is perfection but the item itself may need some minor tweaking to best fit you and highlight your assets. I spoke to my favorite alterations and repair specialist, Snow Chew of Alterations To Go, to get insider insight into how best to approach alterations and repair of our clothes. Here is her advice.

Alterations can be tricky and costly. Snow recommended that if you are buying items at consignment that might need alteration, to limit what you buy to pieces that only need one area adjusted. The idea with consignment is to buy pieces that are a great deal, but if a garment has to be entirely reworked, the cost of alterations can negate the great price you got at resale.
Additionally, she explained that (at least at her shop) the alteration cost is based on time spent. Sometimes, there are a couple of different strategies they can use to repair or alter a garment. The more costly way is usually when an item requires couture or hand sewn methods. Occasionally, this is entirely necessary to retain the value of a couture garment. Other times, it may be possible to “cheat” and use a less time/money costly repair method. Ask your repair specialist what method will be used, whether there are different options available to you, and what the difference in cost will be, so you can make an informed decision.

Have you ever taken a beautiful cashmere out of your closet only to realize with horror that a moth has chewed a hole in it? Don’t despair or immediately toss! Often times, it can be salvaged by a professional who specializes in a technique called “invisible reweaving.” When done properly, you can barely tell that a hole was ever there. The next step is to prevent damage from occuring in the first place! I recommend using Clothes Moth Alert by Safer, which traps moths rather than solely repelling them (like cedar). It also saves your clothes from moth ball smell.

Clothing Care Tips
I often get asked how best to care for clothes once they get home. I have a few suggestions I’ve learned to help maximize the life of your clothes and minimize the money you spend in the pursuit of sartorial perfection.

Washing Cashmere: Many labels will direct you to dry clean, but only do this if there are embellishments on the item. Otherwise, frequent dry cleaning will degrade the fabric and shorten the life of your cashmere. Hand wash in cold or warm water (cold for patterns or saturated colors) and do not agitate. Lay the item flat on a towel and reshape to dry. Be sure not to wring it out or hang it up or you risk ruining its shape.

At home dry cleaning: In addition, we all know that frequent dry cleaning can run up clothing costs very quickly. Use an at-home dry cleaning system like Dryel (starter kit available for $6.97) to cut down on expensive dry cleaning bills.