How to Salvage Your Clothes


This is advice that was given to me on when you can save clothes that are ripped, stained or holed, and what to do about it.

The situation:
A sweater with a hole in it
Can it be salvaged? The more unravelled the fabric and the finer the knit, the more difficult it is to mend without being too obvious.
What to do: Find a seamstress who can reattach the loose knitted ends. Whatever you do, don’t wear a sweater with a hole in it if you plan on saving it.

The situation: A sock with a hole in it
Can it be salvaged? No point. The same goes for t-shirts.
What to do: Buy a new one and move on.

The situation: A small, clean cut through a suit
Can it be salvaged? Yes, provided it’s a cut rather than a rip and that the weave does not have a complicated pattern.
What to do: The services of a good reweaver, also known as an invisible mender. Trouble is, invisible menders are very hard to spot. Alice Zotta at 2 West 45th St (Room 1701) is recommended in New York.

The situation: A suit jacket with bubbly lapels
Can it be saved? No. The bubbles happen when a cheap suit – the kind that has a fused construction, made with glue rather than stitched – is caught in the rain. The glue dissolves. To tell if your jacket is fused or canvassed, pinch the material around a buttonhole with both hands, one on the inside and one on the outside. See if there is any material floating between the outside and inside when you separate them.
What to do: Buy a more expensive suit.

The situation: Salt-stained shoes
Can they be saved? Yes, provided they aren’t also dried out (see below).
What to do: Take a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar and wipe it sparingly over the shoes. Wipe off the excess. Once the salt stains have disappeared, treat your shoes to a loving, liberal repolish at the cobblers.

The situation: Shoes whose leather has become cracked by too-rapid drying after a downpour. Or, indeed, a lack of shoe cream for a good few years.
Can they be saved? Sorry. Consider this a cautionary tale. Leather is organic, and if you dry it out too quickly, it’ll go stiff and the fibers will break at the stress points.
What to do: Next time, wipe down your wet shoes and then dry them slowly, away from direct heat. Put newspaper inside to absorb the moisture.


Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at He has too many suits.


  1. Nicola Linza says:

    I meant to thank you previously for this informative series. I have found many worthwhile tips from your writing that I have passed on to our help. As few tackle these issues, and many of us don’t deal with such solutions directly, this particular series is very much appreciated.

  2. I always wondered what a reweaver was for – that’s good to know.

    I have to ask: If one buys expensive socks, why not take ten minutes to stitch up the hole?

  3. Nicola Linza says:

    I must tell you I had two suits repaired by master reweavers, one in California and one in Florida. I made sure in both cases first and foremost that each reweaver came with excellent credentials, and references which I checked. They will often show samples of their work as well upon request. As Simon mentions, when they are top drawer in their craft, the result is nothing short of amazing. The work is not at all noticeable even upon close inspection. It is a talent to be able to do such work. So if you have an item worth the expense, (it is very pricey to have that work done, it can be $75.USD per inch here in the US, but consider on a $2500. suit, it is well worth the money.) So if you find yourself in the need of that service I highly recommend it. Nicola

  4. I’ve never been one to fix my worn clothes, thus, I try to shop consistently at the same store with the same representative. That way, when my clothes fall apart, I can return to the store and receive first class service for being such a loyal customer. More often than not, they have repaired the item for free or simply replaced the product for the cost of repair. Devotion does pay off.