Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. II, No. Ten

Hi Belle-

I’ve noticed in a few posts that you mentioned that you buy some beauty products on eBay. I’m addicted to a few high-cost items and would love to try to find them for cheaper – but I’m scared of getting a fake product. Do you have any tips/tricks for this? 

Thank you! Jessica

Half of my wardrobe (maybe more) was purchased on eBay, but I would never buy a beauty product there.  Why?  Too many horror stories about people who bought expensive serums and got bottles full of colored water.

Instead, look into a retailer like SkinStore.com, which has great 20-percent-off sales regularly.  You’re far better off saving up for the real thing than taking a chance on eBay.  Plus, if you don’t like the product you purchased, a retailer like Nordstrom or Sephora will take it back, you won’t find that on eBay.

Hi Belle, 

I continually find myself snatching up ballets flats, kitten heels (I know you hate, but I can’t walk in anything over 2″ without looking like a zombie…) and the like, only to find that after pretreating my feet with Dr. Scholls or Bandaids, I STILL get blisters. 

I would love to know your secrets on breaking in a fabulous pair of shoes without killing your feet in the process. 

Help!

Fancy Feet

I always like to take new shoes for a few trial runs before I wear them to work.  I’ll wear them to brunch or wear them while I run errands in the neighborhood.  To get the shoes through this swkward breaking in phase without winding up covered in blisters, I wear anti-chafing stick like this one from BodyGlide.  I’ve heard you can also use clear deodorant.  

You should also think about stretching out your shoes yourself.  Pinterest has some great ideas for shoe-stretching techniques like the wet wool socks and blow dryer method.  

Hi Belle

How often do you dry clean your dry-clean only clothes? While I always dry clean blouses after one wear, I feel like I am always guessing when it comes to blazers, skirts, dresses, and sweaters, in absence of visible stains. Do you wear slips or camisoles to extend the time between cleanings?

Thanks! Laura

I usually dry clean blouses and shirts every four to five wears.  Same for skirts and pants.  Blazers can go longer, maybe every six to eight wears.  

I Febreeze in between to extend the life of the dry clean, and use a Tide stick on small spots.  Of course, this all goes out the window if something has a stain or an odor.  And everything has to be dry cleaned more frequently in the summer, I might only get one wear out of a dress in August when I might get four wears out of it in October.

I’ve tried the home dry cleaning kits, I wasn’t happy with any of them.  I found the chemicals used were heavily perfumed and the clothes always had a lingering body odor that the kits only seemed to enhance.  Plus, I never felt like the items were ever truly clean.

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    12 comments

  1. Rachel says:

    Get yourself some cheap plastic bangles or rubber bands. After you wear a piece of clothing, put a bangle/rubber band around the top of the hanger. That way you'll know how many times you have worn it and can take it to the dry cleaners accordingly.

    October 29, 2012/Reply
  2. D says:

    @Fancy Feet – I bought a red bottle of Shoe Stretch and it worked really well to stretch out a pair of flats that felt too tight on the sides, kind of near the ball of the foot. It took me a couple uses to get the shoes as comfy as I wanted, but walking around my house after applying it helped a lot.

    I got it a dry cleaner/shoe repair place at Tyson's Corner for about $5 but I would bet that other dry cleaners that offer shoe repair or a cobbler might have it a little closer to the DC metro area. I don't know what's in it that makes it work, but the bottle looks like this:

    https://www.amazon.com/Railyn-Liquid-Shoe-Stretch-3-5/dp/B007K9CJBW

    October 29, 2012/Reply
  3. Tenderfoot says:

    I swear by Foot Petals Heavenly Heelz heel grips and Band-Aid Friction Block:
    https://www.drugstore.com/band-aid-active-friction-block-stick/qxp163404
    https://www.footpetals.com/event/catalog:detail/catalogCode/Heavenly-Heelz-FP002/categoryCode/

    The heel grips cushion your heel from the rough edges on the back of the shoe. The Friction Block stick is similar to the Bodyglide that Belle reccommends, but odorless and a smaller size so you can keep it in your purse. You have to apply it to your feet every time you wear the shoes, but it is amazing at preventing blisters, especially on toes and under straps.

    October 29, 2012/Reply
  4. Lexi says:

    I also use the old theatre trick of using a vodka/water spray in between wears to stretch out dry cleanings. Doesn't clean it per se, but kills odor causing bacteria. I spray, then let clothes air out overnight.

    Recipes call for 1/2 vodka + 1/2 water, as well as 2/3 vodka and 1/3 water. I use the 2/3.

    Have also used it on beaded/sequined items and silk. Works great.

    October 29, 2012/Reply
  5. Jennifer says:

    I have found that nearly all of my “dry clean only” items can be safely washed in my washing machine or in the sink. I don't have leather, but this would be one thing I would absolutely professionally clean. But my washing machine has separate cycles for silk and wool and handwashables. A gentle pressing afterward seems to take care of any lingering wrinkles from hanging dry. I am much happier knowing exactly what chemicals are coming in contact with my clothes, and definitely saving $.

    October 29, 2012/Reply
  6. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the SkinStore recommendation. The combination of 20% and 11% rebate on ebates make my incredibly expensive brand (Somme Institute) only slightly too expensive!

    I agree with Jennifer. I've started testing which items are dry clean only. I've washed blouses, a blazer and skirt in my sink with no problems. I figure even if I only dry clean every other time, thats still money saved.

    October 30, 2012/Reply
  7. CynthiaW says:

    The only caveat that I would offer to washing “dry clean only” items is that items with a lining don't fare well in a washing machine. The last thing that you want is to have the liner and garment shrink differently. I have a front loader, so a lot of delicate items can go in the handwash cycle. I still wouldn't use it for a really expensive item.

    I really just try to keep leather clean – use leather cleaner on the exterior of the garment and freshen the inside. Leather is rarely the same after being dry cleaned.

    October 30, 2012/Reply
  8. Meagan says:

    Having accidentally machine washed a lined skirt, I can speak to CynthiaW's point – when the lining suddenly is two sizes smaller, it's never a good thing!

    Also, in the winter months I'm a huge fan of slips and camisoles to prolong the time between dry cleaning visits. It's just too hot and humid in the summer for me to add one more stitch of clothing!

    October 30, 2012/Reply
  9. Rachel says:

    I wash my dry clean things either by hand or in the washer, then I let them air dry on a hanger in the bathroom. If you don't use the dryer, there's no shrinkage problem.

    I really don't want the added expense or the chemicals from dry cleaning on my clothes or body.

    October 30, 2012/Reply
  10. Dry_Cleaning_Isn't says:

    I've had good luck washing a lot of dry-clean only items. I got a lot of practice while I was losing weight, and was trying to shrink my clothes on purpose. It was funny how often things did NOT shrink! I discovered that all of my LOFT “dry clean only” pants washed beautifully (but they shrank in the dryer, FYI). I think a lot of manufacturers are labeling their cheaper clothes “dry clean” because the fabrics can't withstand the usual abuse of traditional top-loading agitating washers.

    I have 2 rules: (1) experiment only if you could bear to completely ruin it; AND (2) if the garment construction and fabric resembles something you've already had good luck washing, then go for it. Fiber content and weave matter. Cotton canvas behaves differently than cotton sateen; wool blends wash well as long as the blend is predominantly synthetic.

    MY PROCEDURE
    (1) Start small, by dampening a facing or inseam and letting it dry, then check for fabric buckling and color changes.
    (2) If that goes well, then gently hand wash, then reshape and dry flat. Check for shrinkage, fading, and buckling seams and interfacing.
    (3) If that goes well, try the washer, then reshape and dry flat I recommend front loaders only on the delicate cycle.

    October 30, 2012/Reply
  11. M-C says:

    For blisters, you can always try the toughening method for backpacking: rubbing alchohol a few days before you start breaking in a new pair of shoes. Does help toughen skin, although all other caveats about breaking in slowly apply.

    Washing things to dryclean is often OK. The problem isn't necessarily just lining, but more importantly interfacing. In case you don't sew, that's the stuff that keeps your collar stiff, your buttonhole band neat, your hem smooth. Cheap interfacing can wobble, bubble and warp irretrievably. Still, in my book it's worth the experiment. There isn't just the cost, there's the liver tumor and neuro damage angle..

    October 31, 2012/Reply
  12. janet says:

    Fantastic is the best cleaner for dry clean only fabrics as well as regular washable fabrics. I had butter stains on a dry clean only trench coat and I used Fantastic on it over and over until it came out. On a really tough spot I put baking soda after I sprayed the Fantastic and it made a stain. I decided no harm in re-applying the Fantastic again and wiping off with a cloth. It is gone! Works well on pen marks, grease and simple dirt.

    April 13, 2017/Reply