How to Keep White Blouses White

Keep White Blouses WhiteWhile Kat recently rounded up white work tops for spring, we haven’t discussed keeping those tops white in quite a while. Before researching this post, my knowledge of how to keep whites white was limited to “wash them in the washing machine” (or more realistically, just don’t buy white shirts!), but to my surprise, there are many simple strategies to keep white blouses white. (If you haven’t seen it, check out our advice on washing “dry clean only” clothes, too.) Here are several easy tips:

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“Dry Clean Only” Clothes and How to Wash Them

What Does the "Dry Clean Only" Label Really Mean?Do you check the fabric care label on a piece of clothing you’re thinking of buying? When you find out that it reads “dry clean only,” do you put it back on the rack, or resign yourself to expensive and inconvenient trips to the dry cleaner? We haven’t talked about how strictly we should follow washing instructions like “dry clean only” in quite a while, so let’s chat about it.

“Dry Clean” vs. “Dry Clean Only”

First, what do “dry clean” and “dry clean only” labels actually mean? Technically, the former means dry cleaning is recommended while the latter means dry cleaning is a must. According to Martha Stewart Living, you can hand-wash or use the washing machine’s cold cycle for unlined clothes made from natural fibers or polyester, while the dry cleaner is your best bet for suits, pleated skirts, rayon and other “delicate synthetics,” silk, wool, leather, suede, and clothing with sequins, beading, or metallic pieces. The article points out that clothing manufacturers err on the side of caution by saying “dry clean only;” they want to reduce the risk of customers returning clothes damaged by improper home washing. (By the way, over at CorporetteMoms we regularly feature machine-washable workwear.)

Here are several more tips for washing “dry clean” or “dry clean only” clothes at home, including advice we’ve collected from Corporette readers’ comments:

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The Hunt: Washable Pants

machine-washable-pants-for-work-2Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We haven’t talked about washable pants in far too long, so I thought I’d do a round-up today. (If having machine-washable garments is important to you, check out our Washable Wednesday feature over on CorporetteMoms.) As we’ve discussed before, these are my best tips for how to wash your washable pants:

  • Look for stretch if you’re shopping online. If you want to narrow your search to pants that are machine washable, look for ones with stretch in them — they almost always are washable. (But most online descriptions will tell you what the recommended care is.)
  • Get them tailored only after you’ve washed them first. After the first wash there may be a little bit of shrinkage — wait to get them hemmed until then. (But, note that there are a ton of brands that offer shorter inseams for “regular” pants, so you may not need them hemmed.)
  • Wash them in cold water at home — and don’t put them in the dryer. At least, not for very long. I usually like to put my pants in the dryer for about 15 minutes — it gets the wrinkles out, and just a bit of time with the dryer sheet makes them softer. I always wash my pants on cold, and I usually do use Woolite and the delicate cycle for my pants.
  • Hang them upside down to dry. The weight of the waistband will pull the pants taut, effectively smoothing them out. (I almost never iron ‘em!) When you put them on the hanger, do your best to keep the crease the pants came with — if there was no crease, just put the inseams together neatly.
  • “Dry clean” on the label usually means you can wash them (but proceed at your own risk).  The big thing to know here is that “dry clean only” means, well, DRY CLEAN ONLY. If it just says “dry clean,” though, you usually can either dry clean them or wash them. Your mileage may vary here, but: unless I really loved the pair of pants, I would give “dry clean” pants a whirl in the washer, as well — particularly if the pants are made up entirely of natural fibers (one of the benefits to unlined pants).  You may want to do a spot test first.

And, just for kicks, I thought I’d round up some special sizes, as well as a few of the brands and styles that have been around forever — readers, which are your favorites for washable pants?  What are your best tips for caring for them? 

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How to Handle Stains — At Work

How to Remove Stains -- at Work | CorporetteWhat’s the best way to deal with stains you get while at work — should you remove the stain, hide it, or leave it be entirely? Reader L wonders about a stain she got on a sheath dress:

Yesterday I was wearing my absolute favorite dress, a black and white colorblock Theory sheath, and at lunch I got a tiny spot of balsamic vinegar on it. Out came the Tide pen, but then that left a large light brown blotch. So I headed to the bathroom and tried to rinse that out…what turned out as a little spot ended in a huge off-white wet spot over my boob, right before I had to give a presentation. Help! What’s the best way to get rid of stains during the day?

Interesting! We’ve talked about how to remove deodorant marks from suiting (as well as our general suit cleaning guide), but not this. I have a few thoughts here: [Read more…]

Machine-Washable Blazers

Majestic Linen & Silk Blazer | CorporetteWashable blazers: are they worth buying to avoid making frequent trips to the dry cleaner?  How can you keep your non-washable blazers fresh and clean?

Reader S wonders:

Would you please consider doing a piece on washable blazers? (The goal is to avoid dry cleaning costs). Thanks.

We’ve talked about how to cool down quickly, whether short-sleeved suits are appropriate, and the best washable trousers — but not this.  I’m really curious to hear what the readers say here, because for my $.02, I would not spend time or money looking for blazers that are machine washable.  You may occasionally FIND a great blazer that is machine washable, but IMHO, I’d say you’re doing something wrong if you NEED a blazer that is machine washable. (Pictured: Majestic Linen & Silk Blazer, $305 at Nordstrom.)

Some thoughts:

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Bra Care: How Often, and How, To Wash Your Bras

bra careBra care can be so confusing. How often do you wash your bras — and how do you care for them? Which bras are best for under work clothes? Reader C wonders:

Could you please do a post on best bras for under work clothes, and also on how often one ought to be replacing bras? I have switched to (what I thought, at least) were high quality bras from Natori (size 32D), which I really like and also take moderately good care of (handwashing only; hang to dry; washing every 1-2 wears; rotating every day among 7-10 total bras). But they still only last about 1 year. Is this the normal lifespan? Or is there something I’m doing wrong in my purchasing and/or care? Many thanks!

We haven’t talked about this in a few years (here: a few of my favorite t-shirt bras, a poll on readers’ favorite lingerie brands), and we’ve never talked directly about how to wash your bras — so let’s discuss. (Pictured: Stripes’ bathtime, originally uploaded to Flickr by Sarah Joy.)

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