- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Q: I just bought an expensive double-breasted suit last year, and now double breasts

and pleats are out. Is there any way to have my suit altered to fit today’s style trends?

A: Sure. Anything that can be put in also can be taken away. Now that single-breasted jackets and flat fronts are in, you can have your suit restyled to match current trends so you won’t appear to be behind the times at business functions.

High-end tailors often offer restyling services, which cost about 10 percent of the original price of the garment. It’s like saving 90 percent on a new suit.

Be sure to keep in mind, however, that having pleats is one of those trends that come back every now and then on an oscillating curve. Alterations also come in handy when you lose or gain weight. Though you can’t alter the threads of the fabric, technically, you easily can alter the shape, size and fit of the garment. You also can change hem lengths, replace zippers, add trim or do anything else you wish to do.

Q: With the dip in temperatures, it is time to pull out my fall and winter clothes. What should I do with my cotton and linen garments, shorts and other lightweight clothing?

A: Most consumers have two seasons of clothing, warm and cold. Before storing garments at the end of a season, it is important to clean them to remove stains from the fabric and to make any minor repairs. If items are stored while stained, insects will be attracted to the fabric, and when you remove the garment from storage next year, it may be full of holes.

When cleaning, refer to the care label for the best method of care. If washing, make sure the fabric is completely dry before storing to prevent the development of fungus growth or mildew. There are many storage containers and bags available that protect clothes during their hibernation, so you may want to invest in them. Also, many professional cleaners offer storage, which will free up valuable space in your closets, garage, attic and under your bed.

Q: Now that fall is here, I’m back to working out regularly. Because my active wear must be washed after every wearing, it fades quickly. Can you tell me the best way to care for my active wear?

A: Again, always be sure to follow the care instructions on the label. Active wear containing spandex is sometimes prone to dimensional change when exposed to high temperatures. To avoid damage on washable items, machine wash on the gentle cycle and dry using low temperatures. Do not use chlorine bleach. Down- and fiber-filled active wear usually respond well to laundering and dry cleaning, while silk active wear, such as jogging outfits, often requires dry cleaning.

Q: It takes me a long time to find jeans that fit just right. Then, once I wash them, they become too tight. Do you have any recommendations?

A: Denim’s cotton fiber content and unique twill weave make it strong, durable and responsive to laundering and dry cleaning. The two most common problems with denim are shrinkage and color failure.

Relaxation shrinkage can occur on the first washing; progressive shrinkage can continue each time a garment is washed. Purchasing your denim garments a little big may keep shrinkage from becoming burdensome.

Color failure is more likely to occur on dark-colored denims than light-colored ones. The care instructions are the biggest clue as to whether a denim garment will bleed: If a label is marked “guaranteed to bleed,” “cold water wash” or “wash separately,” you should be prepared to accept color changes and bleeding.

Chris Allsbrooks is an affiliate board member and spokeswoman for the FabriCare Foundation. She has 13 years’ experience as a textile analyst in the International Textile Analysis Laboratory of the International Fabricare Institute in Laurel. Send questions to [email protected]

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