While dry cleaning is the easiest method, and the only one recommended for rayons
, (YOU don’t have to do any of the work!), for those of you who want to do it yourself, here’s a tip: Try a commercial product called “Orvus” (purchase it at a ranch supply store).
Be careful when using Woolite or something similar, as it contains chemicals that can contribute to the deterioration of vintage clothing.
Wash and rinse, rinse, and rinse again. When it comes to appliances, again, common sense is a necessity. Wash on “delicate” at a warm to cold temperature, and hang on a drying rack, never in the dryer. There are also several good books out with tips on cleaning, such as “Second Hand Chic” by Christina Weil.
Provenance (who previously owned it) is important, especially on early garments.
Anything that has photos or proof of original ownership adds to the value. Collectors who just love the sentimental, nostalgic aspect of collecting vintage clothing
especially desire it.
Never store in heat, such as an un-insulated attic.
The fastest way to throw your investment down the drain is store items in intense heat. While that may kill certain critters, it also kills your clothes, especially fur.
Do not store in plastic bags-ever!
How many times have I found a beautiful suit from the 1940s
in someone’s attic, only to have the plastic bag melded to the disintegrated buttons? Aaacck! Case closed!
An air Ionizer works great at getting odors out of otherwise clean clothing. Just put the clothing in a fairly sealed room with the machine for a day or so and it will smell just like a thunderstorm came through. Especially good if it has a smoke smell.
***Caution - do not put items with rubber or elastic, or vinyl in with the ionizer. It will cause those materials to disintegrate! Also seems to mess up Patent Leather.
and delicate lace items
carefully for storage - do not use hangers.
Ever put on a sweater and find that you have 4 shoulders? Or a lace dress from the 20’s
that no longer HAS any shoulders? Fold, don’t hang, these items!
Hats can be stuff with acid-free paper, and stored in trunks or boxes.
hold up quite well and using acid free paper to stuff and loosely wrap will keep them nice for another 100 years. Store in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, displaying them in an area where the sun won’t hit them is also acceptable.
should be dressed every few years and stored in a cedar closet or cool dry place - not the attic or the basement!
Fur needs a cool environment. Check with a furrier for frequency of dressing to keep your fur in tip-top shape.
Never iron velvet - steam from the inside and brush as you go.
Velvet has a thick nap that can be ruined by pressing with an iron. Dry Cleaner is my first choice. If you must do it yourself, follow instructions as above.
Always steam rayon on the inside - otherwise shiny spots will appear.
Rayon is another tricky fabric. You, again, should let a dry cleaner do it. But if you insist on doing it yourself, steaming from the inside while pulling fabric slightly taut will give it a flawless finish.