Originating in the title of a wartime Government pamphlet, the ‘make do and mend‘ philosophy has been around for more than 70 years, but it saw a resurrgence in recent years, blamed, as with every retail trend or ubiquitous slogan, on the recession (see also: Keep Calm and Carry On). In 2009, John Lewis produced a modern day MDAM booklet compiling household tips, while website www.make-do-and-mend.org gives lots of advice on how to make your clothes last longer.
I practically live in my three pairs of black skinny jeans, but with a combined age well over 10 years, they were starting to look pretty faded, especially on the seams, with white streaks on them from washing powder residue. Rather than shell out on several new pairs, which is what I was about to do, I bought a packet of Dylon Velvet Black Machine Wash Fabric Dye and was amazed with the result. All you do is pour the powder dye into the drum of your washing machine, add 500g salt (so cheap if you get one of those big white tubs of table salt from the supermarket), then wash twice at 40°c, once for the dye, once to rinse it out of the machine. They turned out pleasingly pitch black, and I’ve just bought 2 more packs of dye to get to work on my other pairs.
Saving: 3 packs of dye at £5.94 each versus 3 pairs of jeans at minimum £30 each = £72.18
OK so this wasn’t actually me doing the mending, but by taking my favourite pair of brown boots to the cobblers I saved a packet. Because they’re such useful boots, especially in winter, the heels had worn down all the way to the wood and I thought they might be beyond repair. I had seen a sign in my dry cleaners promising resoling for £25 a pair, but when I took my boots in it turned out they could be reheeled for just £8. I was worried the repair might be really obvious but it was so well done that they looked like new again. If only I had remembered to take a ‘before’ shot of these – trust me, they were seriously worn out.
Saving: An £8 repair versus a new pair of leather brown lace up boots = £50 at least
I had a gorgeous sequin-covered vintage dress that I bought a year ago that I had only worn once, mainly because I didn’t like the high neckline. I took it to my local dry cleaners in Vauxhall, where they also do alterations, and for less than a fiver it looked like there’d never been a collar (I took it at the same time as a jacket for dry-cleaning and it cost £7.50 in total). I wore it to my friend’s party last week and got lots of compliments, so I’ll definitely be wearing it more often from now on. A word of warning though: when I took the same dress to a tailor in Pimlico last year to get it taken in, they charged my £40. That is not a typo, the alteration cost more than the dress. So just make sure you know how much they intend to charge before you hand over your garments.
Saving: this one’s a bit harder to quantify, but a £5 alteration versus getting a new dress from, say, H&M, let’s call it £20