When it comes to the party season, the one thing that you can’t dismiss from your closet is a fantastic, festive frock. From velvet to velour, sequins to silk, the more lustrous your numbers are, the better they’d shine under the limelight.

However, due to the meticulous construction and composition of these fabrics, they are the hardest to care for. Here, we go into five common — yet different — types of materials, and show you the neat tricks that you can deploy to increase its durability.

#1: Velvet

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Did you know that ultra-luxe velvet is, traditionally, made out of intricately weaved silk pieces? Today, the commonly known materials used are cotton and rayon, which are inexpensive as compared to silk. That said, you shouldn’t neglect your “cheaper” velveteen numbers — a Zara dinner jacket requires extra care if you’d wish to prolong its longevity. Here are some things you should take note of.

 

Do

#1: Read the care label for cleaning directions: Machine wash is possible for crushed velvet, since the structure of the material has been “destroyed” prior. For other types of velvet, like cisele (patterned pieces, usually in baroque motifs) and chiffon velvet (lightweight material made out of sheer silk or chiffon rayon), it is necessary for you to bring them to dry cleaning. Do not, by any means, try to get rid of stains by yourself. We recommend May Tailor and Laundry for dry cleaning services. Whenever in doubt, bring them to the professionals.

#2: Protect your numbers when you put them away: folding is an absolute no-no as it’ll cause unsightly fold marks and hence, destroying your precious clothes. Instead, hang them on a silk hanger. Wrap them in a sturdy dust bag before stowing them away. To avoid pressure, do remember to leave ample amount of space in between the number when storing them in your wardrobe.

 

Don’t

#1: Iron at all cost: The heat and pressure will crush the velvet’s formation, thereby leaving unwanted marks on them. Instead, use a steamer to gently remove any creases present. Turn the garment inside out before steaming.

#2: Assert too much pressure on the fabric. This includes: packing your velvet numbers tightly in your closet or wringing them dry. If you’d spill juice or wine on it, don’t blot the liquids off with a dry paper. When too much force is placed on the fabric, it’ll flatten the pile and create indentations. Instead, you should shake the moisture off and let it air dry.

#3: Try to remove glue marks or ink stains by yourself: seek for professional help (i.e. dry cleaning) when you encounter these stubborn stains.

#2: Silk

Since silk is a natural protein fibre that comes from silkworms, it is one of the most expensive material used in fashion. Due to its triangular prism structure, this fabric often has a shiny appearance as they are able to refract light from many different angles. Hence, garments that are made out of silk often exudes luxury and sophistication. Here’s how you can avoid losing its sheen.

 

Do

#1: Go for dry cleaning services for numbers that are pricey: normally, care tags would provide indication as to how you should treat your silks. You must adhere to those that read “Dry Clean Only”. However, if it shows “Dry Clean”, it shows that professional cleaning is the preferred method, but not obligatory. If you’d wish to save some bucks, hand wash your clothes in cold water. Only use delicate detergent when doing so, like The Laundress Delicate Wash. If the care label advises machine wash, do remember to use a cleaning net and set your washers to a gentle, cold-water cycle.

#2: Use a steamer to remove any unwanted crease: a steamer is safe and gentle on your delicate numbers. An iron is advisable, but not recommended for those where you do not have an array of heat settings. If the care label reads “iron safe”, set the device to low-heat. Press your garments while they are slightly damp will help to speed up the process.

#3: Test for colour fastness before washing: since silks that sport bright hues like sunshine yellow or vermilion red, chances are the colours might bleed. Coat a cotton swab in gentle detergent and water. Then, dab it gently on hidden hemlines or seams to check for the bleeding of dye. If they do so, bring it to the experts for washing.

Don’t

#1: Spin dry any silk clothing as it will destroy the integrity of the fabric: the temperature will dull silk, causing it to lacklustre. Furthermore, you may risk shrinking the product as well. After washing your numbers, lay them out onto a clean, absorbent towel to remove the excess moisture. Repeat if necessary. Once done, lay the moist fabric flat on a dry towel, then on a drying rack.

#2: Air dry on wooden hangers: the lacquer on the hangers will transfer onto lighter-coloured fabrics, causing unwanted stains.

#3: Spot-treat: rubbing a specific region on silk will simply cost that area to lighten, hence creating unsightly marks. Wash the entire garment with a silk-friendly detergent. If the stains are dark, dry cleaning is highly recommended.

Read more on the next page.

#3: Embellishments

Sequin, bead, applique and embroidery — they all fall under the category of embellishments. Since these fabrics have extrinsic accents fashioned onto garments, they require the most care if you’d wish to keep its integrity intact. Once it is tugged forcefully, there goes the entire row of trimming. Whether it is by hand, or by machine, you’ll need to take extra precaution to prevent losing a bead, or two.

 

Do

#1: Check the garment’s base fabric before washing: If the number is made out of silk, dry cleaning is the preferred method to do so. For materials like cotton or rayon, you can launder your garments at home. However, it is advisable to hand wash them instead of using a machine. If time is not in your favour, turn the dress inside-out first, zip or button it up and place it into a cleaning net. Set your washers to gentle cycle. 

#2: Air dry embellished garments only: never ever place them in a hot tumble as the heat will melt the accents and deplete the tackiness of the glue. The dryer’s drum can also scratch and destroy the decorations too. Instead, dry them flat and away from the sunlight to prevent tarnishing.

 

Don’t

#1: Iron embellished garments: the heat will loosen the glue holding these embellishments together. Instead, use a steamer when pressing out creases. Turn the number inside out before doing so.

#2: Wring them dry: especially for delicate base materials like satin or silk, wringing them will cause the accents to make pockmarks onto the number. Instead, press them dry and lay them flat.

#3: Launder metal accents as and when you feel like it: as metals will tarnish overtime, you’ll have to be extra careful when cleaning them at home. Products like vinegar and chlorine bleach will rust these metals, which can bleed into your base fabric and ruining the number altogether. Look at the guidelines when cleaning them. Hand wash is one of the way, but dry cleaning for metallic embellishments would be preferred.

#4: Tulle

Cotton, rayon or nylon are the most common materials that are finely weaved together to produce tulle. High-end tulle, also known as organza, is traditionally made out of silk. Due to its soft structure, these extravagant numbers are prone to creasing, as well as wear and tear. Here’s how you can prevent this from happening.

 

Do

#1: Keep accessories at bay (or to the minimum) when donning tulle: jewellery that sports snaps and closures are generally sharp. Hence, they’ll cling onto your tutus easily, causing your precious numbers to snag if you’re not careful.

#2: Store your organza carefully: For skirts, we do not recommend clipping them up, since the pressure will destroy its shape. Instead, fold your garments lightly. Do not stack anything above them to prevent flattening and creasing. To avoid getting them stained, wrap them into a large piece of tissue, or mahjong paper, before storing. For dresses, use a satin-blend or silk hanger for storage. 

#3: Hang your clothes up indoors to dry: by letting them air dry straight, you can prevent wrinkles from forming.

 

Don’t

#1: Machine wash or spin dry your tulle skirt, ever: due to the delicate nature of this fabric, throwing your number into the washers will cause it to rub against the drums, thus destroying it. Instead, you should always hand wash, or dry clean, your organza garments in cold wash. Only use a gentle detergent when doing so.

#2: Iron them: the heat and pressure applied can ruin its integrity. Avoid using a steamer as well. If creases appear, you can try using hot steam from your shower. Seal your bathrooms well and prep it with hot shower to create steam. Bring your tulle pieces in and straighten them out by gently combing your fingers through.

Read more on the next page.

#5: Feathers

Though feathers are often sported on themed costumes (think feather boas) that you, perhaps, would only don it once for the holiday season, it doesn’t mean that you should neglect these babies. Here are some Dos and Don’ts when you’re caring for them.

 

Do

#1: Hand wash in warm soapy water, if necessary: machine washing is, obviously, a no-no since it’ll create tension and loosen the glue that’s keeping these feathers together. If you’re required to remove unsightly stains from these numbers, mix a bowl of lukewarm water with baby soap, like the OG Johnson’s Baby Wash, and wet them. Do not soak them for too long. Gently rub to remove any unwanted dirt. Make sure that you keep the parts that are attached to the garment dry to prevent the adhesive from losing its tackiness.

#2: Air dry them naturally: never use direct heat (no hairdryer or spinning them dry!) as it’ll melt the glue and feathers, causing your frocks to look “bald”. Once you’re done cleaning, comb the feathers neatly and gently with your fingers before putting them out to dry. Lay them flat and avoid direct sunlight.

 

Don’t

#1: Use an iron to keep them neat: excessive heat will simply damage feathers. Instead, use a steamer. We recommend you to invest in one that allows you to manually change the heat settings, like this device from JML. Set it to low heat before proceeding. Hang your numbers up prior to steaming. Do not apply pressure when doing so.

#2: Store them untidily: folds on the stems of feathers are irreversible. Hence, you should lay these numbers out on a piece of tracing, or mahjong, paper first. Make sure that you do not tug onto the feathers — they should be as flat as possible. Provide ample space when keep them in your closets. To prevent flattening of feathers, do not stack any garments on top of them. For dresses, hang them on a satin hanger and zip them up in a garment bag before stowing them away.

Feature image: Instagram (@yoyokulala)