Remember the time you waited until last-minute to buy a pair of shoes for that special event you had to go to? And then you rushed to every store that you could think of, but those three words greeted you every single time. Out-of-Stock. Your shoe size was nowhere to be found, and the only options were to size up, or size down. And you certainly didn’t want to size down and deal with the pain of having the life squeezed out of your toes. At that moment you asked yourself, “What should I do?”
If you can relate to ever having had a fashion dilemma, have a seat, enjoy a cup of tea, coffee, green juice, or some snacks, as we delve into some of my experiences dealing with everyday fashion disasters, how I was able to fix them, and other clothing tips that I’ve learned throughout my life that may help you, too.
#1. If the Shoe Fits…
Every December, when I was in grade school, my grandparents would visit our family for the holidays. By then, the snow had fallen in gentle blankets, the sky was painted with clouds, and tiny bulbs of multicolored lights dotted the edge of neighboring rooftops among the icicles. The black and cream striped couch in our living room was positioned with the back of the couch against the window ledge. I’d always kneel on the couch cushions, brace myself with my arms on the top of the couch as I went into Meerkat mode, and wait for my grandparents to arrive.
That particular year, my Grandpa had just started the tradition of taking me to see the Joffrey Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. I remember my grandparents had bought me a beautiful velvet dress in burgundy to wear to the ballet, and a pair of matte black rounded-toe heels that were two sizes too big. My Mom, Grandma, and I all stood in the kitchen as I clacked my way around in circles on the tile, the back parts of the shoes flipping up and down.
“Oh, this is not good…” My Mom said. My Grandma gently asked if I could pause for a moment and take off the shoes. My Grandma turned to my Mom. “Do you have any cotton balls?” “I think so,” my Mom said. She led my Grandma to the bathroom, opened the closet door, and found a package of cotton balls on the second shelf.
“Here we go…” My Grandma said. She picked up my shoes and stuffed the toes with a few cotton balls. She handed them to me. “Okay, now, give them a try!” I slipped them on, having to use my fingers to help guide in my heels. “Does that feel any better?” My Grandma asked. I walked in a line, and then turned around to walk back. I nodded. “Good, now you can get ready,” she said.
Needless to say, I still use cotton balls in my dress shoes when they’re a little too loose. They’re a decent affordable alternative that most people have on hand if you must size up, because everything is out of stock in your shoe size, or if you don’t want to shell out an extra $8 to buy heel grips and heel cushions. Plus, cotton is soft, breathable, and you’ll have a surplus of them so you can use them in other shoes without having to worry about the transfer of sticky adhesive that most shoe grips leave behind.
#2. The Knitted Sweater Snag
Two years ago, I asked for some time off of work to take the train up to the city to visit my best friend. It was an extremely chilly day, and I was all bundled up with my new, thick knitted sweater, puffer coat, scarf, gloves, and a beanie. After we had lunch, we braved the cold and walked to the Planetarium.
Once we got inside and bought our tickets, we took off our coats. It was during that time that my best friend’s coat had accidentally attached itself to the sleeve of my knitted sweater because of the Velcro. She started to pull her coat away, not realizing what was going on. “My sweater’s caught on your coat!” I blurted out. Immediately, we carefully tried to detach my sweater, but unfortunately a few bits of yarn were pulled out. I tried to poke the strands back into the knit with my finger, but it didn’t really work. My best friend apologized. I told her not to worry because I could fix it when I got home.
Luckily, it had just come out in loops of yarn, so I was able to wrap it around a knitting needle and pull it underneath. I then stretched the knit on the diagonal, and then horizontally, and vertically to reshape it. Now, since I’ve recently taken up crocheting, I would personally use a crochet hook, because it does a better job at catching any thick yarn loops. However, there are some really great precision tools that are meant for fixing snags. I’ve brought in a sweater with a snag to a tailor before, and he used a tool similar to that of a sewing needle, but which had a thin hook at the end. And through looking online, I’ve also discovered something else called a Snag Nab-It tool for knits and woven materials, which has a sewing needle like form, but a barbed top that helps to pull the thread below.
#3. The Clothes Hanger Puff
You know those plastic clothing hangers that you can buy in bulk? The ones that are triangular in shape, and in every color of the rainbow? Last year, my friend was going through her closet and pulled out a sweater that she wanted to wear to our other friend’s Bachelorette party that night. The only problem was, it had a small puff from where the hanger had been, and it was well above the shoulder, and we were going to leave for the party in fifteen minutes. It’s a pretty common problem, especially when you wash a garment, hang it up to air dry, and then it dries to the shape of the hanger, or a heavily knitted fabric is hung on a clothes hanger.
My friend turned to me and asked, “Do you know how to quickly fix something like this?” I told her to dampen a wash cloth with water, and press it to the puffed spot. She could either let it air dry, or carefully dry it with a hair dryer. “I had a feeling you would know what to do!” She told me.
I had learned long ago from my high school days, after using triangular hangers, that switching to crystal clear plastic hangers are worth the investment. Crystal hangers are curved similarly to the shape of our shoulders which helps to avoid puckering problems, and keeps most clothing from sliding off of the hangers. That being said, every now and then you’ll come across one piece of clothing that decides it doesn’t want to stay on a crystal hanger at all. (I’m talking to you, polyester!) In that case, you can wind a couple of rubber bands towards the end of each side of the hanger which will create some traction to keep the clothing from slipping off. However, if you have any heavy knits, I would recommend folding and storing in a drawer, rather than hanging them, so they retain more of their original shape, and are less susceptible to getting snagged.
#4. Pilling on Clothes
You have this one prized sweater in your closet that you literally wear every week. Except you’ve started to notice that the fabric isn’t looking as new as it used to, and tiny balls of fabric have accumulated under the arms, on the sleeves…everywhere! You don’t want to throw it out, and you don’t want to donate it. It still has some life in it, and you know that you won’t find that exact style ever again, because you bought it years ago. That was me with every sweater that I own, and my best friend with her coat.
Last year, my best friend visited for the day to catch up and go out to sushi. She was wearing her favorite coat, but mentioned that lately it wasn’t looking how it used to, but she didn’t want to throw it out, or donate it. I told her that it was an easy fix, because I happened to have a D-Fuzz It comb that I had bought for $3 from Von Maur that would take off the pilling. So, I set her coat on my lap and ran the sweater comb over the fabric. Some time later, the coat looked as good as new!
Given that my friend’s coat was probably an acrylic blend that was felted and looked like wool, the sweater comb was relatively easy to glide over the fabric without ruining it. While the comb can be used on knits, too, I wouldn’t recommend it for any loosely knitted clothing, or any delicate wool. I’ve used it on other clothing such as hoodies that have a tighter knit fabric, sweatpants, and a few cardigans that were more tightly knitted, which has worked very well.
It’s important to remember that even though the sweater comb will do its job of removing the pilling, it’s also removing a small percentage of the fiber that makes up the fabric, which will be noticeable when you’re finished combing and left with a small pile of fluff.
And there we go! Four of my favorite #No Filter Fashion Fixes that can easily be done yourself to help some of your fashion favorites look their best. No filter needed!
FTC: Not sponsored.