Open Thread

Open Thread: This Week in Style News

Credit...Illustration by Konstantin Kakanias, animation by Jonathan Eden

Each week, the Open Thread newsletter will offer a look from across The New York Times at the forces that shape the dress codes we share, with Vanessa Friedman as your personal shopper. The latest newsletter appears here. To receive it in your inbox, register here.

Outside of buildings and books, it’s remarkable to think of most things lasting 100 years (though just this week, I read a story about a fruitcake that has lived to be 106 and still smells edible. It was naturally preserved by Antarctica’s extremely cold climate).

Our clothes never age so well. One step inside a vintage store, and we’re reminded that things often look — and smell — worse with wear. But they don’t necessarily have to.

In fact, I spent the past few months talking to fashion insiders, from designers to the dry cleaners they trust, for advice on how to take care of our clothes. Initially, I was shocked by how often they pretended not to bother.

“I generally wear the same pair of shoes often until they are no longer in decent shape and then move into a new pair,” admitted Tull Price, the founder of Feit footwear. Simon Miller’s Daniel Corrigan told me, “The best-looking jeans are those that have been lived in, ripped — not washed.” Even Bruce Pask, the men’s fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman, shyly said about his perpetually impeccable look: “Very little effort goes into it.”

Like an old frozen fruitcake, some wardrobe items don’t need much care to last and look good (and others don’t need to last at all). But for the pieces you do love and want to continue wearing for decades to come — or even pass down to future generations — read our guide to wearing, storing and even cleaning your clothes and accessories correctly. You’ll learn the best way to fold a T-shirt, steps for conditioning shoes and how to make a leather handbag last. There’s even a reliable stain-removal tip, which I have been using for years. (It works — I promise.)

Elsewhere, we’re reading insightful beauty advice from Salma Hayek; getting to know the homegrown artists, designers and entrepreneurs rising up in the Bronx; and poring over stories from T’s new Women’s Fashion issue, which is out in this weekend’s Sunday paper.

Every week on Open Thread, we will answer a reader’s fashion-related question, which you can send to us anytime via email or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.

Q: “I’m a mid-30s professional who travels throughout the city a lot. My interior design job requires that I carry heavy marble samples, paint fans and hardware around to various job sites. Very dirty ones at that. Due to this, my handbags & purses have taken a serious beating. I’ve given up leather bags completely as they always seem ruined after a month or so and I have succumbed to carrying generic canvas totes. While they serve me well, I feel they are not appropriate for client meetings and a professional lifestyle. Can you recommend a stylish but very durable bag that can put up with the wear and tear that I place upon it?” — Nell

A: Good, durable bags are hard to find — especially the kind that will get better with age. I find it especially difficult to find totes with straps sturdy and wide enough that they won’t dig into one’s shoulder when one is carrying a heavy load. I asked T magazine’s women’s style director, Malina Joseph Gilchrist, for ideas. “Troubador is very understated, and yet because the bags are made of nylon, they’re much more durable and easy to clean,” she says. “The leather handle gives them a more elevated look.” She also recommends dragon — a kind of braided leather (that quite happily has nothing to do with “Game of Thrones.”) “With leather woven bags, the more you wear them, the better the leather gets,” she says. “And because they’re leather, they’re nice for all seasons, too.” (Here are good ones from J.Crew and Garmentory.) Finally, if you do opt for canvas, stick with black — like these from Herschel or Everlane — which doesn’t appear as dirty as a khaki color, and looks slightly more professional than an L.L. Bean tote. — ISABEL WILKINSON