Annette Bette Kellow, Fashion & Vintage stylist

Well, you’ve acquired the most divine items, hopefully sought out from the depths of hard to find establishments, vintage fairs and sales and now you have to care for them with a little TLC, without damaging the fabric!
With vintage often a couple of loose threads will disintegrate rapidly or the washing of crepe turns your favourite piece into a childs dress! The easy option would be to say ‘Just dry clean, darling’ but seeing as a moths cycle lasts one month, the recommendation is to have all items dry cleaned every 28 days- an avid collector or even a part timer will tell you, this will leave you hyperventilating at the bill!

So a simple adoption of these rules will keep it longer lasting and the purse a little happier….

  • By a ton load of dry cleaning bags (or do what I do and use recycling bags, sorry council!) Moths can’t survive without air for too long so make sure their completed sealed. If you have the space buy a few airtight plastic boxes to store them on your wardrobe shelves.
  • Take each item and double wrap in these bags, if you need to keep hung up, tack the top of the hangers hook with tape to seal.
  • Keep lavender, cedar wood balls (not moth balls as they smell disgusting!) in your wardrobe and also in the sealed bags. Purchase a Clothes Moth Trap from Just Green, you can see the devils inside it (I get some odd kind of satisfaction from this!) and it’s the only trap I have ever seen work!
  • Remember moths live in carpet also so keep your floor clean and it will keep them out of the house, they are the main culprit for ruining vintage!
  • Attack stains asap, which sounds a little patronizing but many clear liquids like alcohol will turn dark brown over time. For some stains try lightly vacuuming (yes it does work!) as well as an eraser on silk or hairspray on velvet and use a fine toothed comb to ‘brush’ out.
  • If you over-iron crepe or silk it tends to wear thin or worse begin to change tone and even tear, so hang above a steaming bath. When you get out it will be crease free and ready to wear (plus ironing can be boring!)
  • When washing, remember vintage clothes dye was a lot more dissolvable than todays industrial chemicals so if it’s a dark, red, green, black or blue in shade always wash on its own.
  • Beaded diamante, tasseled one off little saucy number? Always wash anything with appliqués or beading in a pillowcase as do very old cashmere, it needs the gentlest setting on the machine.
  • Dingy whites? Soak in lemon juice then hang in sunlight. Do the opposite for darks, even sun through a small window can affect them.


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