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Looking after Tips

Tips To Help You Look After Your Vintage Clothing

Here at Those Were The Days we want you to love and cherish your purchase as much as we do so that it’ll be around for many more years of enjoyment, so we thought it would be good share with you a few of our hints and tips to help you look after it!

Storing Your Vintage Clothes

  • It’s important that you keep your vintage clothes in a dry, dust free place away from direct sunlight.  Humidity or damp will damage delicate fibres and can cause them to smell, and sunlight can cause fading and deterioration to vintage fabrics, prints and colours.
  • For the same reasons, keep your vintage clothes stored where they can breathe, not in plastic dry cleaning covers.
  • Store heavy items and delicate woolen items folded on a shelf or in a drawer so that they don’t stretch out of shape
  • If you are storing vintage items together in a pile, remember to put the heaviest at the bottom.  It may sound obvious, but you don’t want to crush things, or worse, cause permanent creases.  It’s often a good idea to fold them with acid free / unbleached tissue paper as well.
  • Only hang your vintage clothes on cloth covered padded or wooden hangers, never use metal hangers.  Metal hangers can leave rust stains on clothes and can cause holes in shoulders.  They can also cause clothes to stretch.
  • Delicate fabrics such as silk should be stored folded over the hanger bar, or carefully folded and stored in a drawer or on a shelf.  The same applies for beaded dresses or anything that is heavy enough when hanging to put undue strain on the garment’s shoulders.
  • Turn delicate fabrics inside out if you are worried about them snagging on other clothing (chiffon, tulle and voile for example), and remember to do up hooks or fasteners for the same reason.  It is also important to avoid hanging heavily beaded or sequin items against delicate fabrics.
  • Use acid free tissue to stuff hats to help them maintain their shape.
  • Protect your vintage handbags by storing them carefully.  Ideally, keep them in cloth bags, the way fine hangbags are sold and stored today.  Make sure they aren’t being squashed out of shape or that any delicate beadwork is not at risk of damage. 
  • One other aspect of storing vintage we want to mention is to remind you to do all you can to avoid moths.  Moths are the enemy of vintage clothing and have caused many a vintage lover’s heart to break by destroying some of their favourite pieces.  A key thing you can do to try and help prevent moth damage is to buy and use moth repellants.  Large stores with homeware sections will have ranges of products that will help you with this.  Do your research and use the products appropriate to you.  We find that it is useful to keep lavender sachets and or cedar wood blocks in drawers and in wardrobes or on clothes rails to help prevent moths.  Make sure you note the date these will run out and replace them regularly.  If you are unfortunate enough to have some moths in your house seek professional advice to remove them asap. 

Cleaning Your Vintage Clothes

Washing vintage clothing is a controversial subject with experts and enthusiasts endlessly debating the pros and cons of washing versus dry cleaning pieces.  It really could be the subject of an in depth essay but our aim here is just to give you a few hints and tips to help care for your clothing:

  • It is generally accepted that the best way to preserve vintage clothing is to wash it as little as possible because repeated, vigorous washing can damage the fibres of the fabric.  To keep your precious pieces in good condition, wash them less, especially if they are very old and delicate.  A good airing can often work just as well for removing odour without damaging the garment. 
  • Clothing care labels didn’t generally appear in the UK until the 1970s but if your vintage piece does have a care label then do heed it’s advice.  Many fabrics are not suitable for machine washing.  Some can cope with a short light wash and a quick spin but others definitely won’t be able to. 
  • It is generally advisable to hand wash vintage clothing, unless there is a care label which states the garment can be dry cleaned.  If you have access to a professional steam cleaning tool then this is also a good option for cleaning clothes if you are 100% sure the fabric will cope with this method. 
  • If you are going to dry clean your vintage clothing the first thing to do is find a good quality dry cleaning business who understand the delicate nature of vintage clothing and who will give you advice on the feasibility and best way of cleaning your garment.  They will often ask you whether you want them to remove buttons or trims pre-cleaning, and although these steps may seem tiresome steps, especially if you have to then go to the bother of putting everything back on afterwards…just think how devastated you will feel if the garment is irretrievably damaged during cleaning because you did not do this! 
  • A lot of vintage clothing experts agree that you should always hand wash vintage clothing from 1970s back, even if a care label says you can machine wash a garment.  We’d advise if you aren’t sure about putting something in the washing machine then the best thing to do is hand wash it or speak to a professional cleaner and get their advice first.
  • If you are going to machine wash a vintage piece, then do so on a short cycle at 30 degrees instead of a higher temperature.  This will help prolong the garment’s life.
  • Tumble dryers can be dangerous things for vintage clothing so as a general rule we’d advise you never to tumble dry vintage clothing.  It is far safer to allow a garment to dry naturally on a hanger. 
  • You must also take care when ironing your vintage clothing.  Some fabrics will melt under a hot iron.  It is always advisable to use your iron on a very low setting.  We would also recommend putting a cloth or a piece of material between the iron and your garment to help protect it further.  Another handy tip is to make sure you never iron across or over fastenings (zips, buttons, hooks etc) or appliqué details that have been added onto a garment. 
  • The main rule in terms of washing your vintage clothing is that if you are unsure what to do – do your research.  Speak to a professional cleaner, and make sure you understand care labels and how to clean, dry and iron different fabrics.

Maintaining Your Vintage Clothing

  • With all vintage clothing, try not to wear the same item two days in a row without airing it.  This will give it time to breathe and will restore it for the next wear.  
  • Deal with stains immediately.  If they are left un-touched for long periods of time, they will soak and set into the fabric which can cause a garment to be irretrievably damaged.
  • Repair small rips and tears immediately, as they will only get bigger and more damaged if you don’t.  
  • Treat metal zippers with care.  Open and close them slowly and gently to avoid snagging any of the teeth.  If they do become damaged then replace them with a modern zip and your garment will have a new lease of life!
  • The best tip we ever heard in regard to looking after your vintage clothing was when a colleague advised that you should treat your clothes with as much respect as you would an elderly person of the same age!