Updated: Sep 20, 2020
There is a lot we can learn from our great grandparents about storing our accessories and clothing, years ago clothing was very expensive, some outfits would only be purchased after people saved up for month. Shoes were handmade, bags were decorated with delicate threads and beads and dresses were made of silk and chiffon. Suits were even more expensive, tailor made and hats and shoes were made of leather and wool felt.
People often comment in the shop about the great condition of an item how they can hardly believe it is an original 1940s dress. So why is this? Well it's all in the storage and the packing. I remember buying a dress from a customer in the shop, they explained how they had opened a few boxes of dresses found in the attic and dress after dress fell apart upon touch. One dress was stored in tissue with lots of soap flakes wrapped into each layer and the dress emerged completely undamaged. I don't know what type of soap it was, but it but it had saved the dress I bought it of course!
So when we buy a special piece of vintage let's think about how we are going to store it! It will make all the difference to how long it will last, remember our Mantra is "Wear for Ever"
Firstly, only store away items that are clean and dry. If you need to sponge off a mark or launder an item do this before storing, also note any repairs that you may have to do because there is nothing more annoying then picking out a coat to wear and finding the button is in the pocket from the last time you wore it. Also let your items breathe don't wrap them in plastic and seal them, instead think of wrapping special dresses in old cotton or linen table cloths, old sheets or in acid free tissue paper.
Moth protection in the form of soap, cedar balls, lavender bags, chemical moth killers. Hangers and traps should be used, they are really easy to get now and don't have the horrendous scent of old "moth balls" hang them put them in draws, boxes or pockets.
Moths are very particular they like silk, wool, linen and they like the dark. So remember to hoover and clean the bottom and the back of your wardrobes and drawers. I buy my moth protection from Caraselle Direct who are great and deliver very quickly.
Rock Follies Vintage - Dust bags A designer handbag always comes with a dust bag, So we have decided that all of our handbags will now always come with a handmade vintage fabric dust bag. These are made using vintage fabrics and trims, our first batch is hot of the sewing machine made with vintage Sanderson fabric and satin ribbon. So how do you use a dust bag? Pack the bag with some acid free tissue, we always use this to wrap our items with, then put your vintage bag into the dust bag to protect it from the damage of light and dust.
Fold or Hang?
Knitwear and silk dresses with heavy decoration should always be folded as they will stretch and the weight of the decoration can cause damage.
Padded Coat Hangers
I have been collecting these for years but you can still buy them new or make your own with a precious scrap of vintage fabric. They are gentle on your delicate dresses and you won't end up with a poke and pointed shoulder.
When a foot goes into a shoe it gives it shape and it looks great, so to keep the shape and to prevent dents and folds. When putting your shoes and boots away ensure they are clean then always put a shoe or boot tree or stuff the toes with balls of tissue paper.
Special hats can be stored in hat boxes or any box stuffed with tissue. Hats need room, you don't want to squash them but if they have got squashed just remember a steam from a kettle will revive and restore quite easily.
Wrap a coat or a stole in an old linen sheet or table cloth, make sure its clean and dry when put away and use moth repellants as above.
The best thing to do with jewellery is to store in individual boxes or soft bags so it doesn't get scratched and tangled. Old vintage jewellery boxes are good as they have separate places to lay brooches and earrings in flat. Don't hang old strings of pearls and crystals as this will stretch and damage them, instead a soft pouch is the best. I use coloured boxes for my coloured beads so I can quickly find my green beads as they are in the green box!
Wash or Dry Clean?
I often get asked about dry cleaning vintage clothing but I am not a great fan because it won't always shift the offending stain but may actually spoil the decoration, buttons and fabric. So try spot cleaners but always test on an inconspicuous place first to check the colour is not going to get stripped then hang the item on a clothesline (a frosty morning is great because it will freshen up the fabrics.) Many fabrics can be hand washed successfully as todays detergents are much more delicate than the carbolic soaps of yesterday. For dresses that are dry clean only or have delicate decoration on and you don't want to damage you can obviously wear modern deodorants and antiperspirants, however if you know you are going to get hot you can put in dress guards (two half-moon cotton shapes) they are sewn into the sleeve underarm area with a small stitch that can be removed for laundering and keep the dress clean and dry.
Ties & Scarfs
Hang ties on special tie racks, you can often pick them up in charity shops, by hanging them you can see all your special ties in one place. Pocket Squares should be washed and ironed and stored folded up ready to pop in your top pocket. Scarves, now I like to see my scarves! I store away winter scarves in summer and summer ones in the winter to save space. I hang long scarves on hangers and have a basket with my favourite scarves under the dressing table. I wrap each scarf into a scarf bun (just wrap around your hand and thread the end through the middle) That way I can see each and every scarf. Most can be machine washed but some do require hand washing so just check the care instructions but I would say if you can't see them you won't wear them.