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Give Your Old Clothes a Makeover With These 5 Easy Hacks

It’s almost time to dig our cozy-weather clothes out of storage, but it’s not always as easy as pulling that box marked “fall” out of storage. For many, prepping our closet for the season also means assessing all the wear and tear we put on our garments the year before by taking stock of missing buttons, musty smells, and pulled threads. Here, wardrobe experts Angela Keller of Mom Style Lab and Rebecca Rissman, author of Fashion Hacks: Your Fashion Failures Solved ($17.35, Amazon), share five easy fixes for common style mishaps. 

1. How to Camouflage a Missing Button 

Problem: You’re putting on your favorite fall blouse for the first time this season, only to find a missing button. Solution? “Thread a paper clip through both holes and twist tight,” suggests Keller. If you don’t have any paper clips, another way to save the sartorial day is to use a safety pin to clasp the shirt together. Notes Keller, “A well-placed scarf or brooch will cover the fix fashionably.”

2. How to Lift Set-In Stains 

Stains that have set in are a lost cause, right? Not so fast! “I’ve had a lot of success using vinegar to remove stubborn stains, even on clothes that have already been through the wash,” says Keller. “Just pour vinegar over the stain and gently blot it with a rag, then run the garment through the wash again. The acids in the vinegar will break up the stain, lifting it out of the fabric.” Voila! Good as as new. 

3. How to Unstick a Zipper 

To get a stubborn zipper moving again, rub a bar of soap around the jammed area, advises Rissman. The waxy soap will help the zipper’s teeth to glide more easily. If you’re short on bar soap, Rissman offers an alternate option: “Waxy lip balm will also do the trick.”

4. How to Freshen Musty Clothes 

Clothes that have been stashed away all summer can develop unpleasant stale odors. For a freshening fix, fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of vodka and water and give garments a quick spritz. The alcohol acts a disinfectant, killing odor-causing bacteria, but evaporates quickly, leaving no after-smell behind. You might also consider adding a few drops of essential oils to your concoction to give your clothes a more uplifting aroma.

5. How to Fix a Pulled Thread 

If your best knit has a pulled thread, grab a bobby pin for some simple “sweater surgery.” Hook it onto the loop, then thread the pin back through the inside of the sweater to hide the snag. Gently remove the pin and voilá! You just “re-knit” the thread and, unlike if you had used scissors, your sweater will remain intact.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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