Looking after vintage dresses and clothing is really important to make sure your favourite outfit will last the test of time. It’s already lasted over 50 years – it would be a tragedy for it to live its final days in your possession! That’s why I’ve written this super helpful post on how to care for your vintage cloths – after all, doesn’t every pin up gal want to avoid wrinkles and fading as long as possible?!
Let’s start right at the beginning. It is a cardinal sin to ball up these beauties and leave them on the floor. It’s important to hang them up in a wardrobe, away from direct sunlight and any kind of moisture. You don’t want those colours to fade and get withered!
Be like Joan Crawford and avoid metal hangers at all costs. They may leave rust on your garment, and leave the poor beauty all out of shape as the weight is carried on the shoulders. The plush hangers are best, but failing that, wooden, fabric, or even plastic would suffice.
Last, but not least, do not store them in those horrible dry cleaner bags. You might think that’ll protect them more, but they actually like to breath just as much as we do.
In all honesty, I rarely wash my vintage pieces, if ever. That may sound a little icky to you, but it preserves the fabric a heck of a lot longer! Using a good deodorant (and letting it dry!!) before putting anything vintage on is going to be beneficial on minimising odors. Avoiding sloppy joe’s and siriacha sauce when you’re all dolled up is also a good tip for all you clumsy Kate’s!
Give the garment a bit of an airing out of the closet before wearing it. If you’re spot cleaning any marks / spillages, carry out the mission as soon as possible with water and a little bit of fairy liquid if it’s a grease spot. Always do a little test clean on a hidden area of the garment to make sure the colours aren’t going to run or leave an unsightly watermark.
If you simply must give that gal a full clean, hand wash the piece with a gentle conditioner and allow it to air dry on a hanger to keep its shape. Putting it in the washing machine is an absolute no go; I’ve seen too many colour runs, tears and misshapen messes come out of that black hole of doom, even on a delicate / 30 wash!!
If the garment is really well made you could consider going to a dry cleaners, but bare in mind the chemical process is pretty hardcore, even on modern clothes. Definitely go to the best place you can afford and make sure you’re leaving your garment in the hands of someone you can trust before you commit!
It’s really important to fix any small holes / rips / falling seams on your vintage clothes as soon as possible, because the longer you leave it the worse it’s going to get. Picking up a needle and thread and doing a little DIY by hand is really easy and the quickest solution, but don’t be afraid to take it to a reputable seamstress if you’re a little daunted by the task. It will only cost you a few quid and is definitely worth the investment!
If your dress has a zip on it that keeps sticking you might not have to replace the whole thing – try using some zipper lube to help it glide before doing anything rash. If you can’t get your hands on the real stuff, you can try using a wax crayon, petroleum jelly or colourless bar of soap on the metal, just be extremely careful to avoid the fabric and prevent staining.
THE BUG FEAR: if your poor garment is being nibbled on by moths, this little operation is for you! Simply fold it neatly in some muslin material or acid free tissue paper, pop it in a ziplock bag and remove all the air, then put it in the freezer. This will kill them and their little eggs too! It’s best to freeze for 4 days to a week depending on the size, but the longer the better. When you take it out, remove the item from the ziplock bag and let it ‘dry’ naturally at room temperature. This may take a couple of days, but you don’t want to cause any damage encouraging it open.
So there you go! May your vintage treasures live a long and happy live 🙂
If you have any other helpful tips and tricks, I’d love to hear them, so please comment on this post! Thinking about writing a piece on how to take care of vintage swimsuits and maybe a post on looking after those vintage hats, and shoes… What do you think?
Incase you missed it, here’s a link to my blog post on tips and advice on repairing vintage glasses