When I started the book I'm working on (tentatively titled Getting Started with Vintage - A Modern Woman's Guide) I glossed over care of vintage. Or rather, I discussed a few things, sprinkling points throughout the text. Then something happened: I told a number of people about the book, and many of them told me they were excited about reading a chapter on caring for vintage.

Like, that was the thing that got people most excited.


Then, when I mentioned this subject to my editor, she thought a new care section might be something to seriously consider, among other additions. Fast forward (or perhaps slow forward!) to today, and I have a lot of the care section written. There are gaps which I hope to fill soon, and I plan to put some polish on what I've written.

Here is where you come in:

I have learned so much from putting ideas for my book out in my blog and reading your comments. Please let me know what you think—what is missing, wrong, right—anything. 

The gist of this care section is that I (who wasn't born into Martha Stewart's household!) have had to learn a lot of things, and I want to share just the best and simplest ways that I've found to care for vintage. My book is for the vintage fashion novice, although I hope it offers something to more experienced wearers as well. 

Here is the outline for the section Taking Care of Wearable Vintage Clothing:

  • Prevention
  • Fabrics 101
  • How Fabrics Wear, Look and Feel
  • How to Clean
  • Stain Removal Tips
  • Odor Removal Tips
  • How to Get Out the Wrinkles
  • Accessories Care
  • Basic Mending
  • Insects
  • Some Useful Tools
  • Storing Vintage
  • Mindset for Caring for Vintage

The order of these is still being jostled.


I harp on this a bit in the book because frankly, prevention of problems makes everything better and easier. 

I can’t say it enough: If you are just starting out with vintage, begin by choosing items that don’t have flaws, or with only minor flaws, then wear the clothing thoughtfully. Wear clothing that isn’t too tight (risking tears and seam breaks), take care not to spill while eating, and don’t overdo the fence climbing, Charleston dancing, corsage pinning, and puddle splashing. Hang your clothing up even if it is sweaty or dirty and you intend to clean it. Clean as soon as you can after wearing if needed.


I have many times felt like sending up a hallelujah for the dress shields I sometimes find sewn into vintage clothes. Dress shields are underarm liners that protect your blouse or dress from perspiration, and the stains you might get from deodorants. They can be attached to the garment or have bands that hold the shields on you, and/or your bra. You can find disposable shields, but we vintage people are into reusable, right? My favorites are by the same brand that I find in vintage dresses, Kleinert’s, which has been in the business since 1869.


Make sure you pin a brooch that has a very fine, sharp pin if you are going to poke it through any finer fabric. I like to test putting the pin through the fabric in an inconspicuous place to see how a pinhole looks.

I’ve seen a lot of dust, puddle stains, and heel tears at the hems of long dresses. Excessive length ought to be hemmed up, and a little lifting of trains and hems will help avoid damage.

Champagne and soda look so close to clear but the sugar in these drinks oxidizes, over time or with heat, to a brown stain. Make sure you wash or clean after spilling drinks. It isn’t coffee or tea that has done in many a wedding gown, but champagne.

Make sure the vintage item is likely to fit before putting it on in the first place (the book has a section on ease and another on alterations).


Next time: Fabrics 101 and How Fabrics Wear, Look and Feel