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Caring For Your Clothing


by Tabea Soriano

There is so much information available to us around sustainability - reduce, reuse, recycle - that is valid and aspirational and perhaps even seemingly unattainable in our everyday. So for this year's Earth Day, we're highlighting the proper care of clothing, which allows garments that are built to last to actually last longer, to be cared for and find a permanent spot in our wardrobes for years to come - whether you keep them or pass them on to someone else. 

A few things first: the 'does it spark joy' question is valid. However, don't mind too much if you don't wear something for a season or two. We here have collectively been around the sun enough times to say: everything comes back around.  

 





To Fit
If you love something and it doesn't fit, we recommend having a trusted tailor on call. Garments are made using brand-specific ratios and standard grade rules. Don't doubt your body - embrace it, and let your tailor make the cloth work for you. 

A word on fit, when in the dressing room: a garment should fit your widest point first and foremost and everything else can be taken in from there. For me, a top needs to fit my shoulders and chest first - my waist usually needs to be taken in. And for bottoms, my hips are so much wider than my waist and need to be considered first. From there, the waist can then be taken in. It is not uncommon at all for me to wear a 4 top and an 8 bottom. And it might be exactly the opposite for you and your body! Don't mind the numbers. Make the clothes work for you.


To Store 
If your clothing ends up in storage for a few months, take care to store it carefully. Using the methods below, clean the garments first and store them either folded or on a hanger. Most knits beg to be folded flat vs on a hanger so as not to stretch out, whereas wovens can be stored folded or hanging. Costume archivists recommend that garments be able to breathe. That can be difficult with our modern considerations of storage space and moths that prefer natural animal fibers. I recommend storage in airtight bins when clothing is not in use, with a biannual airing out and spring cleaning - unless you are able to provide a tempered and critter-free environment (lucky you). 



 

 

 

 

 

To Care For
There are a lot of garments that might say "dry clean only" that can actually be washed and cared for in other ways - not necessarily in a washing machine, but using some of the methods below. This can prolong a garment's life considerably. The "dry clean only" label is there to prevent washing mishaps that happen - it can be a kind of insurance policy for brands to make sure your clothes don't shrink in a washing machine. However, many times, we can actually "wash" our clothes and freshen them up. Many times, an air dry in front of an open window can work wonders. For all of the categories below, we encourage you to use your best judgment on what is actually needed by way of garment care. Generally speaking, less is indeed more when it comes to most of our clothes. Beyond socks and undergarments and activewear, a lot of our clothing can not and should not be washed in the washing machine regularly. 

A word on dry cleaning, before we continue: if your garments are fairly structured and tailored and say "dry clean only," there's a chance that they indeed must be dry cleaned rather than washed. This has a lot to do with the internal construction of the garment. In this case, consider a green dry cleaner, aka those that forego the use of a chemical called perchloroethylene. You might also consider a simple press or iron if there are no egregious stains and all the item needs is a spruce. 

1. Natural fibers & man-made cellulosics

All natural & cellulosic fibers are breathable and thereby less prone to smells, but usually more prone to wrinkles. Some are naturally moisture-wicking and anti-microbial. In general, they require a lot less washing than synthetics, and in the case of wovens more steaming & ironing. 

Unstructured wovens (read: unlined, more simple garments)
To spot clean: dab with gentle soap, warm water and a white or natural wash cloth
To freshen up: hang separately in a well-ventilated place or even better a balcony or terrace, out of direct sunlight + appropriate iron or steam setting 
To wash:
- Stains: remove armpit stains and smells with a 2:1 water and vinegar solution; let the garment soak for 10-20 minutes before rinsing
- By Hand: wash by hand in lukewarm water with gentle soap, like-colors only (this can be anything from homemade to Woolite to fancy)
- By Machine (less preferred): wash on the most gentle cycle, cold water, like-colors only
- Prep to Dry: do not wring, but press out excess water gently 
- Dry: hang to air dry
- Iron/Steam: iron or steam on the appropriate setting
- Examples from our collection: Tencel, Wool, Silk, Cupro, Linen (woven), Cotton Poplin, Viscose, Denim Cotton




Knits

To spot clean: dab with gentle soap, warm water and a white or natural wash cloth
To freshen up: lay flat in a well-ventilated place or even better a balcony or terrace, out of direct sunlight + appropriate iron or steam setting 
To wash:
- Stains: remove armpit stains and smells with a 2:1 water and vinegar solution; let the garment soak for 10-20 minutes before rinsing
- By Hand: wash by hand in lukewarm water with gentle soap, like-colors only (this can be anything from homemade to Woolite to fancy)
- By Machine (less preferred): wash on the most gentle cycle, cold water, like-colors only
- Prep to Dry: do not wring, but roll the garment up in a clean towel and press out excess water
- Dry: lay flat to air dry on a drying rack, do not hang
- Iron/Steam: if needed, which is rare, steam on the appropriate heat setting, not too hot
- Examples from our collection: Linen Knits, Cotton Knits, Wool/Alpaca Knit

 

2. Specialty Items

Every now and then, there is a beautiful piece that requires special attention. Below we outline a couple found in our collection. 

Polyester Pleats 
Pleats are made by folding the unsewn fabric which is covered with paper and then exposed to high heat. Polyester is usually needed for a pleated garment to hold its shape. Because the pleat itself is oftentimes so precise, care of a pleated garment is better left to a professional.
To spot clean: dab gently with a damp cloth but avoid too much water or too much rubbing
To freshen up: hang the item by its shoulders (for a top) or the waistband (for a bottom) to allow the pleats to fall back into place. Do not steam. If you're excellently precise, iron carefully on the appropriate/low heat seating, otherwise, do not iron (the pleats WILL get wonky). 
To wash:  Alas, here we recommend a very good green dry cleaner. 

Raw Edge Finishing
A raw edge is a designer's choice that means exactly what is says: the fabric edge of a garment is left unfinished, or raw. This means that the yarn of the fabric will come undone and unravel over time. Because of this, it's best not to machine wash these pieces. 
To spot clean: dab with gentle soap, warm water and a white or natural wash cloth
To freshen up: lay flat in a well-ventilated place or even better a balcony or terrace, out of direct sunlight + appropriate iron or steam setting 
To wash:
- Stains: remove armpit stains and smells with a 2:1 water and vinegar solution; let the garment soak for 10-20 minutes before rinsing
- By Hand: wash by hand in lukewarm water with gentle soap, like-colors only (this can be anything from homemade to Woolite to fancy)
- Prep to Dry: do not wring, but press out excess water gently 
- Dry: hang or lay flat to air dry
- Iron/Steam: iron or steam on the appropriate setting
- Last step: if yarns unravel to the point where they are too long or start to form a knot that you don't want to anymore, cut excess threads and knots back with scissors

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