OUTFIT | The Care Label


When you buy clothes (brand new or thrifted), do you wash them first before wearing them, or do you wear them first before washing them? And, when you wash those, do you check the “care label” before pouring water over them? Chances are, many of us don’t care about the “care label.” In this age of mass production, we can buy clothes at cheaper prices and many of us wouldn’t mind destroying a piece of clothing due to careless washing because we can easily buy another piece. That mindset changes when you are a thrifty and practical person, or when you love vintage clothes. Being thrifty and practical means you don’t just buy select pieces of clothing, you also care for them so that they’ll last you many seasons. Loving vintage clothes is the same thing: you buy rare pieces of clothing and you care for them because you know that these pieces are rare.

For clothes to last many years, they have to be well taken cared of. And, to take care of them well, we have to inspect and read the care labels first before we wash the clothes. Care labels are usually found at the back of clothes (in the nape for tops and dresses and in the waist for bottoms) or at the sides. They are either printed or stitched on paper or fabric.


The first photo above showed a care label that was found at the tag of the dress. The care label though has slightly faded, but if you read further below in this blog post, we will talk about how to care for specific fabrics so even if there is no care label or it has faded, we still know how to wash the clothes. The second photo’s care label was stitched, which means it won’t fade. A stitched care label is often a sign that an item is vintage. Also, instructions may come in written form or in symbols. Written instructions should be easy to understand. An easy and good general guide  on interpreting care symbols is found below from Textile Affairs:

CL02On to specific fabrics: there are fabrics, such as cotton, that are easy to wash and care for, they can take any kind of detergent or any kind of washing. The first photo above — a thrited Levi’s shorts, which is 100% cotton — calls for machine wash. There are also fabrics that are very sensitive and are not durable enough to withstand all kinds of laundry methods. Linen, for example, for either be washed or dry-cleaned. Silk is more sensitive and needs utmost care — they are often dry-cleaned. Spandex, often found in our undergarments, are best washed by hands. The second photo — a thrifted Morgan de Toi top which is made of nylon — also calls for machine wash. The Clothing Dictionary has an extensive guide on how to wash, dry, and iron clothes according to the fabric.

The care label is important so that those precious fabrics are not wasted. And I should have known this before I washed this precious top I’m wearing in the photos. To my excitement, as soon as I was done with my thrifting adventure, I immediately placed the top in a palanggana (washbasin) and poured water over it. After leaving it soaked in the water to remove dirt, washing it gently with detergent and fabric conditioner, and letting it dry under the sun, I got a ruined top (see the white area where the buttons are). When I checked the care label, it said “dry clean only.” Often, instead of dry-clean, I hand wash clothes, but I did not realize that this particular top “bleeds” so the dry-clean method was the best way to care for it. There, because I did not pay attention to the care label, I wasted what was once a good buy.


* wearing vintage top, thrifted Levi’s shorts, Aldo sunnies, and Human Nature canvas tote *

Photos by Joel Lopez

A Less Cluttered Life: Throw That Lipstick Away

Some nights ago, I searched the Internet for articles on the shelf-life of make-up items.  The past year, I began learning how to put on make-up. I had make-up in the house given to us by our aunts and friends and most of them were unopened or seldom used.  I bought some new stuff that I thought would be good or would be helpful. Most of them I gave away, unused last Christmas.  But there are some that I just refuse to give or throw away (like a Clinique palette) because they seem to be just working fine.

I am aiming to have a more edited make-up kit, something that is sparse enough to fit in a pouch that I can also instantly grab for travel but complete enough to last me from day to night.

Reading those Internet articles made me realize that I need to throw away most of the make-up items that I have been using since I don’t know when.  Now I know there are many reasons why I should not stock on make-up items.  Aside from they take up space, they are difficult to organize, they take away some portions of your budget, most of them just lie barely used (or worse, unused), or you don’t feel good with them, these make-up items eventually expire and would become unsafe to use.

I created this “cheat sheet” on the shelf-life of make-up items based on an article from Allure.  This cheat sheet is for me, as much as for anyone out there who wants to know.

MASCARA           2-3 months

FOUNDATION        6-12 months

CONCEALER         2 years for powder and 1 year for liquid

FACE POWDER       2 years

BLUSH             2 years for powder and 1 year for cream

EYE SHADOW        3 months for powder

EYELINER          3 months for liquid or pencil

LIPSTICK & GLOSS  1 year or if you’ve been sick

NAIL POLISH       forever, until formula remains separated when shaken

If you’re just a mere mortal (not a beauty goddess or a make-up artist), I think it’s better to just absorb those make-up ads, and not buy them.  With the shelf-life of make-up, chances are, we won’t be getting the most of our money with the too much make-up items we bought.  Instead of buying that lipstick, better (i) get more sleep, (ii) drink more water, (iii) avoid alcohol and cigarettes, and (iv) eat healthy.


Thrifting 101: The Basics

It’s a rainy day today. It started last night, Friday the 13th, and I am just very glad it rained, because it has been sunshiny and warm and dusty the past days.  The downside to a rainy weekend though is that you won’t enjoy going out because the streets are wet, and if you live in Cebu, the streets get flooded.  The weekend is the best time to go thrifting (at least here in Cebu).  Many stalls open at Carbon Market and some thrift shops drop prices during the weekend.

Although today is raining, it’s still a good time to do some thrifting.  There are a lot of thrift shops around the city that are air-conditioned.  No need to trek on muddy water.

So, what do you do to get the most of your thrifting adventure?  Here are some of my “tips.” I’m no expert, but I’ve been thrifting since college, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way.  These tips are based on those mistakes.

1. Before going out, know what you want.  There may be particular styles, items, or fabrics that you looking out for.  There might also be occasions that you are preparing for.  Take note of them while thrifting because they will guide you.  These notes will also help you not go beyond your budget or over-shop for clothes you don’t really need.  My practice is to scan magazines before I go thrifting, sometimes take a picture of photos in my cellular phone, or draw them in paper and bring that paper with me.

It is also important to you know your body measurements.  Thrift shops are not the cleanest place on earth and sometimes you wouldn’t want to try on dirty clothes, no matter how beautiful they are.

2. What to bring? Bring cash because they won’t accept credit cards, or credit. Better bring coins or loose change.  Bring a tape measure (see item 1).  Bring reusable shopping bag, or bags.  You may bring alcohol, hand sanitizer, tissue and other cleaning agents.  It is best to bring a companion because its more fun, and its safer. Don’t bring or wear too much jewelry and things that will attract pickpockets, thieves and snatchers.

3. Courtesy.  Be courteous and friendly so you can bargain. But don’t bargain too low.  They are after all, a business.

4. Wear comfortable clothes. I usually wear shorts and shirts to go thrifting but I think leggings would also be comfortable.

5. What to look out for?  Measurement and fit.  The clothes should fit you properly. Or they are really good and you have a seamstress or tailor who can alter the clothes for you.  Look out for tears, holes, stains and discolorations.  Some of them may be fixed, but some may also be permanent.  Be more scrutinizing when buying whites.

I hope these tips are helpful. 🙂

(me, in front of a thrift store)

Happy Weekend! Happy Thrifting!