One of my favorite things about dressing for winter is being able to mix materials. In the summer I find myself wearing mostly cotton, linen and denim, but when it gets cold my outfits come to life with the addition of suede, leather, wool and even silk. I love to layer – there’s nothing better than a silk camisole topped with a chunky wool cardigan over a suede skirt with tall leather boots. But how do you care for all these fabulous fabrics so you can wear them again next winter?
One of my favorite winter wardrobe staples is a timeless camel colored suede skirt from Banana Republic. I bought it two years ago and have kept it looking fresh simply by letting it breathe. You never want to store suede in plastic bags, which prevent air circulation, but can hang it in a pillowcase to protect it from dust if you choose. Store your suede away from light, which will fade the color. After purchasing suede be sure to use a product that will protect it from permanent water damage and other stains. If it does get wet, soak up moisture with a clean towel and allow it to dry naturally (do not use a heat source to speed up the process). After the item dries, restore the nap (the raised fibers typical of suede) with a suede brush.
If you’re looking for a suede piece this winter try Theory’s luxurious A-line suede skirt with front yoke for a flattering fit. Available at saksfifthavenue.com for $540. Or accessorize your outfit with Goldenbleu’s chocolate suede â€œStellaâ€? bag for $550 at goldenbleu.com.
I can not live without a pair of red leather ankle Carlos by Carlos Santana boots I bought last year. This fall I took them to my cobbler (yes, I have a cobbler) to have them repaired. For about $25 they replaced the soles, heels and heel plates, shined them for free and my boots were back in action. You can create an at-home system for caring for leather by following four easy steps: clean, condition, polish and waterproof. First, clean the shoes with leather cleaner to remove surface dirt. Next, condition the leather. Conditioners soften and lubricate the leather.
Next, it’s time for the polish. I like to use cream, which is quicker than using a paste and lasts longer than liquid. After the shoes are shined, weatherproof them.
This year I’ll treat myself to the affordable Carlos by Carlos Santana’s leather and suede Sidekick for $92 on Zappos.com, while I’ll really be eying Miu Miu’s shearling lined leather boots for $750 at net-a-porter.com.
With proper care the natural qualities of wool can be maintained for years. I have a black wool boucle skirt and jacket that are going strong after two years. Be sure to give your wool clothing a 24-hour rest between wearings so the fibers will shed wrinkles and return to their original shape. Hang woven wool garments on shaped or padded hangers and store knits folded in drawers. Refresh wool garments quickly after wearing or unpacking by hanging them in a steamy bathroom to remove wrinkles.
Bluefly.com offers a selection of beautiful chunky wool cardigans by Joie â€” I like the wool-cashmere blend in latte for $299. You don’t normally think of wool for a handbag, which is why I like Tory by TRB’s medium wool tote bag with crackled metallic trim. It’s a fantastic day bag for $298, available at scoopnyc.com.
As I’ve gotten older my silk scarf collection has grown, but my favorite is still a pink and purple Pucci-esque square scarf I bought duty-free at the airport in Athens, Greece. I wore it all summer long in my hair and it started to show a little wear and tear. I learned that dry cleaning is the preferred method because laundry detergent and dyes in other clothes adversely affect silk fabric. Make sure you always tell your dry cleaner an item is made of silk so it is not placed in a vat with jeans or other garments that could harm the silk. For washable silk, follow the directions carefully. Some silk garments can be carefully handwashed in lukewarm water and mild soap. Never use chlorine bleach.
I love J. Crew’s silk V-neck tanks for wearing under blazers in the winter. Available at jcrew.com for $68. I’m also eyeing the Nina Ricci silk â€œDoveâ€? scarf. It’s comprised of two squares attached at the corners and gives you total flexibility in how you want to wear it ($101.25 at vivre.com).