Storing and Maintaining Your Vintage Clothing

Posted by on Nov 30, 2011

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You may have found and repaired the perfect vintage dress, but once you've put so much effort into a retro treasure you'll want to find a way to keep it looking its best. Linda Lindroth, author of "Virtual Vintage: The Insider's Guide to Buying and Selling Fashion Online," gives us tips on making that antique piece last as long as possible.

Sweat Never Hurt Nobody? Yeah, right...

You'll be glad to hear that the old gym class mantra is completely wrong — in regards to vintage, anyway.

Lindroth says, "Anything I wear that I’ve perspired in (like if I went dancing in it), I dry clean right away. Perspiration can stain the garment and cause it to become brittle. When perspiration collects on old silk, for example, the fabric will get dry and brittle, and it can even fracture. If you look at the stained silk with light behind it, you'll actually see the warp and weft, the weaving, opening up. Those are little slits that have developed because perspiration had built up on the fabric."

But don't worry about that Big Night Out resulting in immediately ruined vintage pieces. Sweat needs to build up over a few years, even decades, before fabric fibers start to become frayed and damaged. Just know that this has a definite probability.

Rotation Makes the World Go Round

Lindroth's best tip for protecting vintage clothes? Don't wear them. Or, at the very least, as Lindroth does, rotate them.

Rather than wearing the same vintage coat week after week, for example, consider switching off with a second or even third vintage jacket. You'll still be glam and your garments will last even longer.

In the Closet

When it comes to storing clothes, vintage can't be treated like that old V-neck T-shirt. While you don't have to seal up the garment in more plastic then a kid's holiday toy, Lindroth does recommend at least covering the top of the clothing, which she says prevents dust from settling on it while still allowing air to circulate around the garment

This air circulation, if you remember from eariler, is what Lindroth recommends for removing funk and other smells. So when storing your vintage clothes, be sure to keep them in closets that are open. "Closets should air," she says, "but watch out for moths. Martha Stewart has quite a few products good for storing vintage clothes, cedar on hooks and cedar balls that are not overly fragrant. These are good for keeping moths away."

Clothes stored in an aired closet are able to resist mildew and lingering smells much better than cloying fabric maskers like Febreeze.

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