top of page

Top Tips - Caring for Vintage Clothing

One thing we can all agree on is that vintage clothing was made to last. The quality of fabrics, the methods of stitching and the sheer level or craftsmanship is rarely replicated in modern fashion. I have seen dresses that are 80 or 100 years old that still look like new and sadly I don't think that will be the case for the fast fashion of today.

Buying and wearing vintage clothing is both an ethical and sustainable choice as well as offering a whole host of other benefits. Uniqueness, style and longevity of course being the front runners. Whether you have a whole wardrobe of vintage clothing or simple just a couple of key pieces, caring for your vintage is super important. Here are my Top Ten Tips for caring for your vintage clothes...


Clothes need to breathe, and plastic stops them from doing so. Of course there are times that plastic is used such as the garment covers used by dry cleaning companies, but these should always be temporary. If you wrap or store clothing in plastic bags for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to mustiness and even mould. It's also harmful to the actual fibres of the clothing and can significantly shorten the lifespan of certain materials.


There are always going to be small issues with most vintage clothing over time such as a snagging zip, a loose button or a fraying thread. It is really important to get repairs done as soon as you discover a problem, otherwise what starts as something very small and insignificant can turn into something much more damaging and costly to fix. If you aren't confident with a needle and thread yourself, simply look online for your nearest repair and alteration service here your vintage clothes will be in safe hands.


Certain fabrics like polyester and cotton are perfectly safe to machine wash no matter their age. But if you are going to do so, make sure to always keep it cool for that extra safeguard. Washing at 30 degrees is still perfectly effective with modern detergents being much more sophisticated and able to work efficiently at lower temperatures. This is also great for the environment, as switching from 40 to 30 degrees when washing can save around 50% of energy consumption.


It is important to use sturdy, wide hangers for your vintage clothing. Thin and wiry hangers will mis-shape your garments at the neck and shoulder and can also create rust marks if they are particularly old. Choose wooden or fabric hangers and even consider adding padding for particularly heavy or delicate fabrics.


Whether it's shes, clothes or accessories, when it comes to leather it is important to care for it properly. Incorrect cleaning and care of leather can lead to drying, cracking and stiffness as well as damage to embellishments and colours. Be sure to identify the leather first, from patent to nubuck or suede to nappa and use the correct products for that type. A little time learning what is best for your leather will ensure you can enjoy it for many more years to come.


It really is vital to keep vintage clothing in a climate controlled environment that's dry and well ventilated. Basements/cellars are often quite damp and will encourage the production of mould and mildew on your clothing over time. In contrast, attics can be very hot and this prolonged high temperature can really damage things like elastic and also set in stains.


It's also advisable to keep your zips lubricated quite regularly. This is easily done by a couple of different methods and no fancy products or equipment is needed. The first way is simply using pencil graphite by rubbing the pencil up and down the teeth of the zip. Alternatively you can do the same action but with a little Vaseline on a cotton wool bud. Easy peasy!


Tumble drying is a big no-no for your vintage clothing. It is rough and damaging, not to mention the risk os shrinkage tat can rarely be undone. The same goes for wringing or twisting your washed clothes, just don't do it. It is best to hand and drip-dry for optimum garment health.


Just like vampires, clothing hates direct sunlight! Whether your clothes are hanging, folded or displayed, direct sunlight through doors and windows is very damaging. Just like when you take a picture off the wall and the paint or wallpaper s darker underneath, the sun's rays are the number one cause for colour fading and we definitely don't want that. Keep those beautiful colours covered!


My final tip is to remember that vintage clothing doesn't always need to be continuously washed. Marks and stains can be spot treated with stain remover sprays. Day to day, clothes can be easily freshened up without having to be totally washed. There are lots of fabric freshening sprays readily available for a quick mid-week spritz but you can also freshen clothes without. Simply turn your garment inside out and hang in the bathroom when you are showering or outside on a dry breezy day. There is little better than good old fashioned fresh air for your favourite threads.

So there we have it. ten simple but important and effective ways of keeping your vintage clothing in tip top condition. When you find vintage you love, you want to make sure you can enjoy it for as long as possible and pass it on to future generations too.

Until next time

Emma x

vintage clothing, vintage clothes, vintage care, clothing care, washing clothes, ook after vintage, how to clean vintage, how to care for vintage, vintage fashion, vintage storage, storing clothing, storing vintage clothing, vintage clothes care ,vintage shop, top ten, top tips, vintage tips, vintage fabric, fabric care



bottom of page