10 Ways to Get Your Wardrobe Winter-Ready

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Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

When it comes to protecting a fancy bag, women can go to crazy lengths to keep their purses looking like new. But when it comes to your clothes, you don't necessarily need to break out the Armor All spray to make them last.

This winter may be the time to invest in a fancy coat — but when it comes to winter basics, why splurge on a whole new wardrobe when you can put a little effort into bringing them back to life and making old faithfuls look like new? When it comes to refreshing your coats, sweaters, and boots, shelling out for expert care is not mandatory. From an easy, liquor-cabinet-inspired hack that gets the odors out of your sweaters (without paying for the dry cleaners), to removing sweater pills, to waterproofing your shoes, there are tons of smart tips that you can do easily at home. (Disclaimer: You will need to buy a few things, like waterproofing spray and a special comb for your knits, but it beats buying a new wardrobe.)

1. Waterproof and Condition Your Leather Shoes. Much like your bags, leather shoes can benefit from a rubdown of conditioner like the ones recommended for luxury purses. As suggested in the purse-care threadCadillac Boot & Shoe Care Conditioner followed up with Collonil Waterstop will keep your favorite boots looking like new, even after you trudge through slush puddles.

2. Remove Those Salt Stains. If you're like me, you've forgotten about those tell-tale white stains on your winter boots until now. To quickly remove them, the general advice is to mix one cup of water with one tablespoon of white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will dissolve the salt without damaging the shoe. Dip a cloth into the mixture and wipe. Repeat as necessary. 

3. Deodorize Your Sweaters. Dry cleaning is expensive and a giant pain in the ass. How many times do you let it pile up and wind up with a $100 bill? If you don't need to remove any stains and just need a quick refresh, try using cheap vodka instead of Febreze. A $10 handle of the stuff poured into a spray bottle works just as well. Spray liberally on areas that are likely to smell (like the armpits) and let dry. You won't smell like a frat party, promise.

4. Remove the Pills From Sweaters. As fun as it may be to pluck those little balls of fuzz off your sweater, it's not particularly efficient or effective. You could invest in a fabric shaver, which looks exactly like what you use to shave your legs but is meant for your knits. Lay the fabric flat and apply gentle pressure. You don't want to accidentally shave a hole in an expensive cashmere sweater. If you're too paranoid, the one-two combination of a sweater stone and sweater comb is also effective. Both are meant to be rubbed over fabric — the stone handles chunkier, heavier fabrics while the comb is meant for delicate ones. And for the low-tech version, you can trim pills with a pair of cuticle scissors.

5. Freeze Your Angora. Love the look of a fuzzy mohair sweater but not so into the shedding? Instead of forgoing pairing the knit with anything black, grab a big freezer bag and neatly fold your sweater inside. Then toss it into the freezer for at least three hours before wearing and you'll shed no more. 

6. Use Hair Spray to Prevent Holes in Your Tights. Nothing is more frustrating than ruining a pair of tights, especially when you're down to your last clean pair. As a quick fix to lengthen a pair's lifespan, try cheap hair spray. Just as it stiffens your hair, it will stiffen the fibers in your tights so they'll last longer.

7. De-Lint a Wool Coat With a Coat Brush. If you happen to have a furry friend, chances are they've shed all over your coat. Using a lint roller is pretty much an exercise in futility, so try investing in a brush especially made for the task. A few strokes and the bristles will capture lint, hairs, and dust off your classic wool topper.

8. Wash Your Gloves, Scarves, and Hats. Name the last time you washed any of your winter accessories. Considering that you wrap a scarf around your face and that your head sweats in a hat, chances are they're kind of gross. While faux-fur accessories (and real ones) require professional dry cleaning, you can get away with hand-washing the rest. Martha Stewart has a handy guide to hand-washing sweaters, but you can apply the same technique to knitted hats, gloves, and scarves as well. 

9. Wash and Dry Your Down Puffer. Your giant sleeping-bag coat might be warm and cozy but is probably yet another item in your closet that you forget to wash. Thankfully, you only need to do this twice a year at most. Use cold water and a mild detergent. When you toss it in the dryer, use low heat and add in a few (clean) tennis balls to help break up clumps of down.

10. Patch Your Sweaters. Granted this is more of an expert-level DIY, but for those who really want to try to repair their favorite sweater, a kit exists to fill in the holes. Made by Woolfiller, it comes with bundles of wool, a foam block, and needles. Place a piece of fuzzy wool over the hole and then use the needle to darn the hole (basically, you stab the fluff until it merges seamlessly with your sweater). More info is available in the company's video, if you want a visual.