Make Do And Mend was first coined by the UK Ministry of Information in 1943 due to the rationing of clothes but it soon spread across the world as nearly every country was touched by the hardship of fighting. It was a phrase that reflected austerity as well as creativity and imagination.
With our consumer culture we have almost lost the make do and mend attitude of our grand parents but for those interested in fashion the principle still holds a lot of value - not only in saving or restoring life to our favorite designer clothes and shoes but the skills are also valuable for designing and making your own clothes.
The tips might be over 70 years old now, but here are some of the ideas and how they can be practically applied today to create a more varied and durable wardrobe.
Keep on top of repairs; the original advice was to mend clothes before every wash. Luckily we have the luxury of having lots of clothes in rotation and quality fabric that is unlikely to tear easily but knowing how to sew on a button or fix a small hole could save you a whole outfit if done quickly. You know the old adage - a stitch in time saves nine.
Take care of your clothes; what is the point of spending lots of money on clothes if you are going to throw them on the floor at the end of the night? Treat your clothes with the respect they deserve. Our grandmothers knew to hang them up not just to preserve them but to cut down on the laundry basket; laundry was a heavy duty task in the 1940s!
Keep them looking nice; you look better if your clothes and shoes are clean, pressed and well turned out, at least that was the advice back then and it rings true today. Keep your clothes in good order but replacing buttons, sewing seams, fixing holes in both your clothes and shoes. If you have never turned your hand at shoe repairs never fear there are plenty of places online that you can buy shoe repair supplies from so why not put on your best pinny and try and give life back to your favorite loafers?
Be tough on stains; stains ruin clothing but they don’t have to set fast if you use the 1940s thinking for removing them which was to act fast, use natural products such as vinegar, lemon juice and even baking soda to treat them and wash immediately. We have the luxury of high street stain removal today but the theory applies - don’t wait until the wash to keep your clothes clean.
Rotate to look great; just as you wouldn’t wear the same dress every day you shouldn’t wear the same shoes or underwear consistently either if you want to extend their life. Rotate your wardrobe and save your best for those special occasions.
Don’t sweat it; modern deodorant technology claims to protect against the stains of perspirations including yellow stains. In the 1940s they used dress shields to do the same job (paper worn underneath the armpits). Either way the point is sweat can ruin the look and smell of your clothes.