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Life is not predictable. And nor is your wardrobe. Not all items that purport to be the same size actually are – each brand has its own definition of a ‘large’ and even of what a ‘32-inch’ waist actually means. The weather can change in a second, leaving freshly shined shoes looking like you wore them for a cross country race. And surprise plans can test quite how dressed up your work clothes can pass for.

Our stylists deal with these problems every day. And because there’s often not enough time to get to a tailor, or they don’t have a shoe shine kit to hand, they’ve come up a set of ingenious cheats that get the same results in a fraction of the time. And now, you can know them too. Which means less time stressing about your wardrobe, and more time wearing it well.

Clean shoes with baby wipes

Clean shoes with babywipes

“People always notice your shoes first,” says Thread stylist Alexander McCalla. “But the second you leave the house, they start looking less polished.” You can’t shine them up every time you step outside, but you can give them a once-over with baby wipes, particularly if you get caught in a shower. “They’re great if you’ve been out and picked up some grime, particularly in winter. A little touch-up and suddenly they look sharp again. You’ll also prevent water or dirt soaking in and damaging the materials.” Store some in your coat, bag and desk drawer, for emergencies.

Check colours against your skin

Check colours against your skin

Choosing the right colours for your complexion is one of the toughest style skills to master. But you don’t have to study up. “Just hold an item of clothing up to your skin, underneath your chin,” says Alexander. Like a buttercup’s ability to predict your taste for dairy, colours that work for you will immediately make your skin look brighter and healthier. And ones that don’t will make you seem washed out. “You can then learn which shades suit you and which you should avoid, which is a simple way to always look more put-together.”

Tailor your trousers with hemming web

Iron trousers shorter

A pair of trousers rarely fits perfectly out of the box. Ideally, you’d have them all taken up by a tailor, but if they’ve arrived the day before an event – or they’re not worth spending £20 to have adjusted – then you take matters into your own hands. “With hemming web, you just fold up the hem to right length, then iron it into place,” says Alexander. “You can also remove it really quickly if you want to change it down the line. It’s an inexpensive and flexible way to get a great fit.”

Remove lint with sellotape

Remove lint with tape

However clean and pressed your clothes were when you put them on, a day of wear leaves them littered with dust, grime and stray hair. “If you’re going out on a date, or there’s a spontaneous drinks invite, your outfit can look tired,” says Alexander. The answer is a lint roller, which picks up all the nasties. Odds are you don’t have one in your drawer, but you probably do have some sticky tape. “Just grab some, fold it back so the sticky side is facing out, then roll it over your clothes.” You’ll go from dog-eared to boxfresh in seconds.

Illustrations: David Doran