Compared to everyday clothes such as shirts and pants, formal wear demands — and deserves — to be treated better. Not only do these garments tend to be expensive, but chances are, you bought them with the expectation of wearing them again. But to do that, you need to take special care of them. To help you do that, here are the dos and don’ts of how to care for formal wear:
Here’s what you need to do when it comes to formal wear care:
Do follow after-care instructions
If the care label says to “dry-clean only”, then it should only be dry-cleaned. There’s a reason why it was written on the label, so it’s best to follow what’s stated. Care labels tell you what you can and can’t do when it comes to washing your formal wear, so don’t be tempted to rip them off because they’re itchy! This is because certain fabrics need to be treated with care, otherwise they won’t last as long. In general, garments made from fabrics such as silk and wool need to be dry-cleaned.
Do wrap dresses with adornments
Prom dresses tend to be embellished with beads. Before storing them in your wardrobe, be sure to wrap them with white tissue. This will stop it from snagging onto other pieces of clothing as well as guard it against damage. Once it’s covered in tissue paper, put it inside a garment bag made of undyed materials. Whatever you do, don’t store your formal wear in plastic as it can trap moisture, and as a result, your clothes won’t be able to breathe.
Do clean spills and stains ASAP
There’s nothing worse than spilling red wine on your dress or suit. If this happens to you, run to the restroom pronto. Do some damage control and gently dab (not rub) the stained spot with a cloth to absorb a bit of the wine. If your dress is made from silk, you shouldn’t attempt to clean it with water, as this will likely cause the stain to spread. Try to contain as much of the stain before it can seep into the fabric, and then let the dry cleaner do the rest.
Pro Tip: If it’s that time of the month, you may want to wear period underwear. These undergarments are designed to keep you dry all day thanks to their leak-proof materials.
Do consider hand-washing
If your clothes have beads or other embellishments, it’s best to hand-wash them even if the care label says otherwise. While you can take them to the dry cleaners, hand-washing is a good choice because you have complete control over how gentle the wash should be. In turn, it allows you to prolong the life of your formal wear.
All you’ve got to do is fill your bath with water and gentle detergent. Swish your garment around to get rid of the dirt. Drain the soapy water and then refill it with clean water. Swish your garment again until it’s no longer soapy when you wring it.
Now that you know what you can do, let’s take a look at what you can’t do:
Don’t store formal wear in damp places
The number one rule when it comes to storing formal wear is to not store them in the basement or attic. If you put your clothes in these damp places, they’ll develop a musty smell that no amount of perfume can cover up. What’s worse is that they can become the breeding ground for mold and mildew. If the growth is that bad, you’ll never be able to wear your dresses or suits again.
The ideal place to stow your formal wear is cool, dry, and well-ventilated. Be sure that it’s away from direct sunlight as this can cause the fabrics to fade. You could, for instance, store your formal wear with your off-season clothes.
Don’t fold your formal wear
Formal wear should be treated better. With that said, you shouldn’t fold your dresses or suits, as folding can result in creases that you’ll have to iron out every time you want to wear your clothes. Folding also tends to flatten your dresses, particularly those made from poofy materials such as tulle, or those with embellishments such as beads. Hang them using wire hangers with rounded edges as these will allow your dresses or suits to retain their structure.
Don’t store dirty clothes in your closet
You should only store clean clothes in your closet. Even if you only wore your formal wear for a couple of hours, it can still attract pests, particularly if your clothes have traces of food. Do not store clothes that aren’t 100% clean in the closet, and instead, throw them in the wash (if that’s what the care instructions say, of course).
Don’t store your formal wear with old clothes
You shouldn’t store your formal wear with clothes that you don’t wear often. We know it can be tempting to keep clothes you haven’t worn in a long time (maybe due to sentimental reasons) in your closet, but beware — it puts your newer clothes at risk of pests, mold, and mildew. This is because your wardrobe may have been exposed to excessive moisture.
So, before you store your formal wear in your wardrobe, be sure to check if the rest of your clothes are in good condition (by that, we mean pest-free, mold-free, and mildew-free). If possible, throw all of your rarely worn clothes into the wash once every couple of months.
Caring for formal wear goes a long way
Formal wear can be costly, so it’s in your best interest to care for them. By doing so, you’ll be able to wear them for as long as possible. These tips apply to all types of formal wear, whether wedding gowns or suits, so be sure to keep them in mind whenever you’re wearing your best garments.