Archive | May 2012

Pack it Right and Light

When packing, never, never, never, stuff your bag!!  Your clothes will surely get wrinkled.  You can carry along wrinkle release spray or if you have clothing that are mostly natural fibers such as wool or cotton consider hanging them and let them steam while you’re taking a shower.  Most hotels will have an iron already in the room or one available through room service; however, if you are not one of those people that will consider steaming or ironing your clothes when they are a bit wrinkled get the spray.  It doesn’t matter that you just flew 20 hours to get to your destination your clothing needs to look clean and pressed.

  • When packing, place the things that you will wear the least at the bottom of the suitcase. 
  • When packing, button your shirts, blouses, cardigans and jackets and fold them at the seams if possible. For example, when packing jackets in a 20” Pullman, button the jacket, fold the arm sleeves in and then fold the jacket about half and place in the case width wise.  With knits such as cotton Ts, socks, and pajamas, rolls these and put them where there are gaps to keep your clothes from shifting.
  • When packing toiletries and medication, consider travel sizes that can be purchased at your local grocery or pharmacy.  Repackage and eliminate the extra packaging; however, make sure that you label everything.  Have a shave kit or toiletry bag packed at all times so you just need to put it in your bag when you have to go.
  • For most jewelry put what you need in single zip lock bag.  For finer jewelry get a soft travel case that rolls up.  For accessories such as belts, socks, scarves, or hosiery consider putting those in a zip lock or in a compartment in your bag so everything is together.
  • For pajamas and robes, you know what works for you; however, invest in a travel robe if you’re inclined to wear one.  You won’t have room for your favorite terry cloth.

Travel Right for Work or Play This Summer

Are you the type of person that brings everything when you travel?  With airlines charging for bags it might cut down how much you want to bring on a trip, but how about when you travel for business?  Not only will the time away include business meetings but also evening events in a place that you’re not sure how to dress.  Perhaps it will be overseas or in another part of the country; how can you pack appropriately in one bag and have everything you need?  It’s a matter of planning.

Rather than stuff your bag to get everything you want into one parcel, start planning now for business travel.  It’s rather embarrassing when someone is there to pick you up and you have 3 bags for a week-long trip.  Unless one of those bags is the set up for the trade booth or merchandise for a trunk show think ahead and plan accordingly.

When you know you’re going to be traveling, look up the weather forecast on the internet.  This will help you in deciding what kinds of clothes to bring.  Whether traveling overseas or to another state, pack according to the general weather outlook.   It won’t be right all the time but you will get a general feel for the climate.  Humid climates, as those commonly found in Arkansas and Singapore require some thinking if you perspire easily.  If you’re traveling to a dry climate such as Phoenix or Dubai, the feel of the temperature is very different than a humid one so think this through.  As well, if you’ll be working in an air conditioned setting such as at a hotel or convention center and chill easily that will influence what you pack too.

Next, figure out your schedule of obligations such as meetings, tours of facilities, sightseeing, dinners, and banquets at these locations.  Consider the level of formality of the corporate culture that you’ll be visiting.  If it’s the company headquarters in New York you will want to bring either a suit or a jacket and tie.  Or if you’re visiting the company plant in South Carolina where everyone wears the same uniform from management to linesperson, then address the informality with a similar ensemble.  If traveling overseas to visit with market representatives in London, Paris or Beijing, the business culture is much more formal than in the US so bring a jacket, suit, or suit separates.

Now think about your luggage.  If you travel frequently you need a good piece of luggage that rolls and is the size appropriate for putting in the overhead compartment of the plane if you don’t want to check your luggage.  Consider a 20” Pullman with wheels.  Don’t expect the luggage you buy to last forever and realize that no matter what it will get beat up, bent and perhaps torn.  Luggage can range from a good value to very expensive depending on what your need is.  Consider these tips when making your choice:

  • Purchase luggage with wheels:  Most of us will be handling our own luggage up to the point we either store it in the overhead compartment or check it in at the airline desk.  You have several choices for wheels: spinners that rotate 360 degrees, oversized that can go over curbs and bumpy roads easily, or the most popular, in line skate wheels.  Make sure that the wheels are recessed so they don’t get torn off.
  • Check out the handles and seek either dual tube or soft handles for comfort especially if you’ll be handling your luggage the most.  Consider luggage with adjustable handles so you can attach a smaller bag easily.
  • Consider fabric when selecting luggage and choose a hard side case if you have valuables to protect to various grades of nylon such as ballistic nylon, which is extremely strong to your average variety polyester.
  • Make sure the bag has lots of pockets to separate and store your belongings on the inside as well as the exterior of the bag.
  • If security is an issue, have a TSA approved lock.  Check out their site for more information
  • Look for luggage that has enclosed spaces to store your liquids.

Now that we have our luggage what are some of the things that you will need to include to make your stay easier for you.

  • If you have a smart phone does it have GPS?  If not consider getting one.  Although many car rental companies such as Avis and Hertz have some installed or carry them for an extra charge.
  • Bring a folded umbrella just in case.
  • If traveling overseas you will need a voltage converter and an adapter kit of plugs.  If you visit one country extensively have several of the appropriate plugs so you can charge your phone and/or work on your computer (Most laptop computers are able to work off of either voltage).
  • Consider wrinkle release spray
  • Have a travel alarm clock or your cell that has an alarm setting if the location does not provide a wake-up call.
  • Back up travel documents including a copy of itinerary and passport.
  • USB memory stick, otherwise known as a flash drive.  However, may I also suggest having a back up by having the needed files on a cloud website such as or others.
  • Copy off any customer service numbers such as the airline number or travel agent.  Also if your credit card is loss or stolen you will need their number to report it.
  • Back up charger either a plug in or battery operated variety.  Most of us have at least 2 electronic devices with us on a regular basis so be prepared when one goes out  that you have back up.  Particularly if traveling to a country where the electricity is sometimes turned off during the day, the battery operated charger will be a life saver, just make sure that it’s charged.  Always bring extra batteries.
  • If you work out, check out the facilities at your destination online to see what’s available and pack accordingly.  You can’t bring all your work out outfits and shoes so determine what will work for you for the time away.

Outfit of the day!

As the temperature rises, many offices turn on their air conditioning.  So to accommodate consider a tank with a coordinated tailor shirt worn open or buttoned partially.

Cherish Your Investment: Part 2 Removing Stains

It inevitable that we will spill something or just end up with a stain we don’t know how it got there.  Getting rid of stains is an art but can save you tons of money if you are able to save your clothes from being ruined.  Bottom line, when you get a stain act quickly and do not complete the cleaning cycle until you know the stain is out.  Drying heat sets a stain.  If you are prone to spilling things on your clothes you might consider carrying a Tide cleaning stick that is available at your grocery store.  They are great for most fabric stains when they happen.  As with any spot remover, test the fabric in a hidden area first to make sure it doesn’t fade or harm it. Here are some tips that help deal with removing stains.

Pencil: Use a prewash stain remover on the stain, allow it to set in and then wash.

Ink:  If you get an ink stain apply hairspray or rubbing alcohol to it.

Ketchup: blot the excess ketchup, rinse in cool water with mild detergent.  Use a prewash spot remover and then run it through the wash cycle.  Let it air dry and check to see if the stain is gone.  If not go through the steps again.

Gum: Put the garment in the freezer for about 6 hours and then chip it off.  Or apply ice cubes to harden the gum so it can be easily removed.

Protein based stains: Examples include blood, cheese sauce, gelatin, baby formula and milk.  Soak and agitate these items in cold water before washing.

Tannin Stains: Examples include alcoholic drinks, beer, coffee, cologne, berries, tea and soft drinks. Use detergent, not bar soap, in the hottest water possible for the fabric and soak the item before running it through the wash cycle.

Oil-based Stains: Examples include automotive oil, salad dressings, mayonnaise, face cream, and body lotions.  Pre treat these stains with a heavy duty detergent applied to the stain or apply a powder detergent paste to the stain before washing.

Dye Stains: Examples include Kool-Aid, grass, cherries, and blueberries. Pretreat these stains with a heavy duty detergent or soak the item in a diluted solution of all-fabric power bleach for a maximum of 15 minutes.  (more information is available at

Deodorant and Perspiration Stains:  These are the yellow stains under the arms in shirts and blouses and are the result of the formula still being wet when the garment is put on as well as the aluminum salts found in antiperspirants.  To remove these stains soak shirts in warm water with an enzyme presoak or rub the area with white vinegar.  After that wash the item in the hottest temperature possible that is safe for the fabric.  If the stain remains dampen it and sprinkle with meat tenderizer and let it stand for an hour.  Then wash.

Caring for what you wear will ensure that your clothing looks its best for years to come.  In this day and time, clothing is a major investment especially when it comes to what we wear for work.  Take care of your clothes and they will take care of you.


Cherish your Clothing Investment: The Basics

Part 1 of a 2 part series.

Clothes are not meant to last but if you don’t take care of them they will really perish before their time. It doesn’t seem like a long time before the hem comes out of a pair of trousers or skirt or a button falls off.  Moreover, being able to buy clothing and knowing what you’re getting regarding care requirements helps you to make better purchases.  Taking care of your clothes, including your shoes, will save money in the long run and give you truly a working wardrobe.  If you are not one to replace a button, your neighborhood dry cleaners may be able to save the day.  They can also launder and press your shirts and make minor alterations.

  • Hangers

Invest in plastic, wood or padded fabric.  For the majority of your clothing, the plastic hangers will be perfect.  For heavier items such as blazers consider wood hangars; however, the plastic ones will suffice.  For knits, leather, and delicates consider the padded hangers.

Storing Clothing

When you pick up your dry cleaning, take off the plastic wrap before you hang them in the closet.  They need to air out.  When storing your clothes for some time, purchase garment bags made of natural fabrics that breathe rather than plastic.  Also make sure that your clothes are free from stains prior to storing.  Fruit stains fade garments over time, and any type of food stain attracts moths.  As an alternative to mothballs consider cedar chips that are a natural deterrent against moths.  When storing wool items place them in a dry area free from sunlight and consider placing them in garment bags with cedar siding to prevent damage from insects.

  • Caring for fabrics:

Washing machines have a multitude of settings that accommodate delicate as well as sturdy fabrics.  Understand that the principle behind washers getting your items cleaned is through rubbing garments together, so make sure that you don’t overload the machine when washing and get acquainted with all the settings and fabrics that are possible for optimal cleaning results.  Finally, make sure that your machine remains rust free by letting it air dry once you have finished using it.

As well, dryers today are capable of handling more types of fabrics then in the past.  Again review the manufacturer’s instructions and settings.  Keep the dryer in peak performance by removing lint from the lint drawer each time and make sure that there is no build up of lint behind the dryer.  If you have a tendency to use fabric softening sheets in each load, reuse them to avoid dryer build-up.

If items must be professionally cleaned, find out from friends one that they recommend.  A good dry cleaner changes their cleaning fluid frequently and steams without heating the garment to an extreme degree.  As well, when picking up your dry cleaning there won’t be an odor to them, a sign that the cleaner changes their fluid regularly.

Leather shoes, garments and bags: Shoe care is simple but extremely important.  Shoes are expensive especially well made leather ones.  No matter what shoes you own take care of them and polish them with a cream rather than liquid polish.  Polish protects the leather from drying out or being ruined by a sudden rain.  If you do get caught in the rain, let your shoes dry naturally away from direct heat such as a radiator.  Stuff the toe area with paper towels to absorb moisture and to help retain the shape of the shoe.  Remove any salt or stains with white vinegar and water mixed in equal parts.  Once they have dried out, condition and polish them.

At the end of the day take your shoes off and let them air out for 24 hours.  Consider using a shoe tree to keep your finer shoes in shape.  Also, put your shoes in clear shoe boxes which will help keep the dirt and dust from the air off of them.  In cold climates the salt on the roads and sidewalks should be removed from your leather items immediately with a soft cloth and warm water.  Leave the items in a dry cool place.

Check the soles and heels of your shoes periodically.  Are they worn out, with holes?  Send them to your local cobbler immediately.  Give the same consideration to your other leather goods such as brief cases and bags.  When you purchase a new leather brief case, treat it to a paste-polish rub down to keep soil from penetrating.

With new leather garments such as pants, jackets and vests, treat them with a leather protector spray before wearing.  Further, keep the garment dry when wearing and hang them on broad, padded hangars.  Regarding liquid stains, blot the stain immediately to remove the excess amount.  However, ink, paint, colognes, perfumes, hairspray and chemical stains can’t be removed so avoid these when wearing leather.  For powder, dust or mud use a damp sponge with warm water and wipe clean.  With suede items brush lightly away any dust or dirt after wearing.