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How to help your clothes live longer using these eight apps

Don’t let complicated laundry instructions, broken zips or a lack of storage stop you from making the most of your clothes

Rachel England
Thursday 27 July 2017 13:27 BST
In the bag: Britons throw away a staggering amount of clothes every year
In the bag: Britons throw away a staggering amount of clothes every year (Rex)

Buying new clothes has never been as easy and inexpensive as it is now. Pop to the high street on your lunch break for a new Saturday night outfit and you’ll have change from a £20 note. Have an online shopping frenzy on your sofa and your cheap and cheerful choices can be delivered to you within hours. Don’t like them? Just send them back, no questions asked.

But even though Britons spend an average of £1,042 a year on new clothes, “fast-fashion” norms mean that a lot of this sum is an empty investment. Some 60 per cent of the average woman’s wardrobe goes ignored, and we keep garments for an average of just one year before chucking them in the bin, according to research from Earlier this month WRAP, a resource efficiency consultancy, made headline news with its most recent report on the cost of UK fashion: we’re throwing away a million tons of textiles a year.

Why? The appeal and accessibility of new trends obviously plays a huge role: out with the old, in with the new. But there are other factors at play, too.

Complicated washing instructions, minor damage and simply not having storage are all commonly cited reasons for clothes ending up in the bin. It’s easier to replace a jacket than fix a zip, for example, or to buy a new dress online instead of finding the time to take an existing one to the dry cleaners. But as with all things in life now, there are apps and services designed to remedy these issues at the touch of a button.

For laundry challenges

It only takes a small splash of wine to relegate a dreaded “dry-clean only” garment to the back of your wardrobe forever. And if something is smelling less-than-fresh, it’s tempting to just bin it, rather than go through the hassle of following its complicated washing instructions.

If laundry labels leave you scratching your head in confusion, the Laundry Day app is a sartorial saviour. Use your phone’s camera to scan the care instructions label and the app will tell you exactly what you need to do to get the item through a wash without shrinking, bobbling or discolouration. If that’s still too much like hard work, get a pro to do it for you. Laundrapp operates nationwide and allows you to book a collection online using its simple app or website. They’ll collect and clean your items, then deliver them back to you, anytime, anywhere.

And if time is of the essence try Zipjet instead of dashing out for a new outfit. This London-based service operates in the same way as Laundrapp, but can get your clean clothes back to you in as little as six hours.

Alicia Silverstone 1995 (Paramount/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

For repairs and alterations

Something as small as a missing button or broken zip can all too often result in a whole garment going in the bin: shopping for replacement buttons is almost unheard of, for a start, and visiting a tailor is time-consuming.

Clothes Doctor acts as your ‘local online seamstress’, collecting your damaged clothing, repairing it and then returning it at a time that suits you. It also offers an alterations service, so those items taking up space because you “might wear them in the future” can finally see the light of day now.

For storage problems

Having distinct summer and winter wardrobes is a nice idea, but very few people have enough space to separate the two – and fewer people still have the space to keep one set of clothes neatly stored away. Instead, clothes get jumbled together and squeezed to the back of the closet, meaning you end up throwing things out to make space for new arrivals, or forgetting about items altogether and buying similar pieces unnecessarily.

Lovespace is a door-to-door service that lets you store your clothes (and other items) neatly and safely away from your home. Make a booking online (you can also order packing materials if you need them) and Lovespace will collect your items as soon as the next day, and deliver them back to you whenever you want. Prices start at £8.25 per box per month, but get lower the more you store. Store three boxes and you’ll pay £6.60 per month, store seven and it’s £4.90, and so on. For longer-term arrangements, prices start at £1.95 per box per month.

MODEL RELEASED Untidy Teenage Bedroom With Messy Wardrobe 2010s (Monkey Business Images/REX/Shutterstock)

Total Wardrobe Storage offers a more high-end version of this service. Specialising exclusively in clothing storage, the company will also assess your items and carry out dry cleaning and repairs while your garments are in its care, so they’re in perfect condition next time you need them. Plus, all your items will be photographed and added to your own online web wardrobe, so you won’t accidentally end up buying duplicates of items you already own.

Store your items on a short-term basis (up to nine months) and prices start at £35 per week for a hanging rail (which holds up to 50 garments), £20 per week for a half-hanging rail or £10 per week for a storage box. You can also store individual items, and prices are reduced for longer-term contracts.

Of course, your storage problems might not have anything to do with the space you have, but how you use it. The KonMari method has taken the world by storm with its insightful take on decluttering and minimalist living. Applying its principals to your wardrobe may well make you more mindful of the clothes you already have, and how you treat them. The handy accompanying app tells you how.

For maximising your wardrobe potential

If you’re guilty of forgetting about items you already own or neglecting pieces because you’re not sure how to wear them, Smart Closet is for you.

Much like Cher’s amazing daily outfit creator in Clueless, Smart Closet lets you upload Instagram-worthy pictures of your clothes (you can remove the background in just one click) so you can mix and match pieces to create new looks and outfits you might not have considered before.

You can also select items from thousands of brands and retailers. Set custom rules to generate random combinations, save your favourite looks and get reports on your most- and least-worn items, so you’ll know what kind of clothes you’re really wearing – and what should probably be left on the hanger next time you’re out shopping.

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