How To Look After and Get The Most From Your Vintage Clothes

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The perception many people have of vintage clothes as being old and fusty, or somehow cheaper than hitting the high street actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether you have a silk 1920s gown that you treasure or a pair of 1950s Chanel shoes that once belonged to your grandmother, vintage garments are precious pieces (and in some cases, family heirlooms) that need to be looked after and cared for properly. So what is the best way to look after your vintage clothes to ensure they’re still in great condition for the next generation? Here are a few hints and tips:

Store Your Vintage Clothes Properly

Your vintage clothes need to be stored correctly to ensure they remain in the best possible condition. In fact, these same rules will apply to all garments you love if you want to ensure they remain in wearable condition for a long time. Keep your clothes in a wardrobe out of direct sunlight to prevent any patching or fading. You should also ensure that your clothing can breathe: dampness can lead to mildew (a smell that’s almost impossible to remove) and can also damage delicate fibers irreparably. For this same reason, you shouldn’t store your pieces in plastic garment bags: they don’t allow the pieces to breathe. Finally, choose wooden coat hangers rather than wire or plastic ones. Metal hangers can leave rust stains on your clothes and flimsy metal or plastic hangers will also pull at the piece leaving it permanently misshaped.  

Protect Your Investment

If you have several expensive vintage pieces in your collection then ensure you have a contents insurance policy that covers them specifically. Many home insurance policies don’t cover the contents of your wardrobe, so if you do have a sizeable vintage collection with a high retail value then you should mention this to your insurer when purchasing your policy. That way you know your protected, financially at least, should the worst happen. Serious vintage collectors should regularly take stock of the pieces they have and hold a written itinerary of their wardrobe: this is one of the best ways of ensuring you know everything is where it should be. Gals with sizable shoe collections that are constantly being borrowed by their girlfriends might want to consider doing the same thing!
Washing Your Vintage Clothes

Washing vintage clothes is a controversial subject, with many different schools of thought on the best way to proceed. A good rule of thumb is that anything produced before the 1960s (when the use of washing machines became widespread) should always be washed by hand. The best thing to do though is use your own judgment here: if you have a piece that is beaded, delicate, or made of a very  fine fabric then don’t put it in your washing machine. Either wash the piece by hand or, if you can afford to do so on a regular basis, take your most precious vintage pieces to the dry cleaners. Your dry cleaner is an expert who will know just the right way to look after your favorite vintage frock!

Making Repairs

One of the most valuable skills a vintage enthusiast can have is the ability to sew and repair her own clothes. If you notice any small imperfections in your garments then repair them immediately: beaded are relatively easy to stitch back on, and small rips are easy to stitch up, especially in lesser seen areas like underskirts and linings. For more complicated repairs look for a seamstress that specializes in repairing vintage pieces, particularly if the garment has a high value. Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of zipper lube in keeping your zippers loose and easy to use: you’ll be grateful for it when you’re trying to slip out of your favorite vintage dress after a night on the town!
Although vintage clothes may require slightly more maintenance than pieces made from newer more durable fabrics, the payoff is that you know you’re wearing something special and unique. If you love your vintage clothes and care for them, then in return they will give you untold pleasure for many years to come.            

Comments

  1. Hi Cathy, I'm just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

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    1. Thank you Chris ... you made my day!

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