How To: Take Care Of Gowns And Party Dresses
6th OF September 2012
It's always tough if you enjoy long, floor-sweeping gowns but haven't the faintest idea how to care for them.
Fear not: here are RESCU'S top tips for caring for expensive gowns.
1. Store the gown carefully. The number one mistake made in caring for gowns is storing them badly and wrecking the structure.
The most common problem? Storing them full-length on a hanger. The weight of the gown will drag, putting pressure on the seams and altering the shape.
Instead, fold it in half over a hanger - if there are long sleeves, drape them over the hanger too rather than letting them hang free, to keep their shape.
If you have space, store them folded in boxes with moth protection and tissue paper. It's also a good idea to cover all gowns on hangers with dry-cleaning bags or other dust protection.
2. Take care of stains immediately. Getting stains out of silk and chiffon is notoriously difficult and will likely need to be done by a professional.
No matter how hungover you are, the morning after the party where the spill or stain happened, if not sooner, it needs to be cleaned.
Moisten with a warm cloth under the arms to clean deodorant stains, then take to a garment cleaner. There are various cleaners in Sydney and Melbourne who specialise in silk and delicate fabrics - look for them in the Yellow Pages.
Be prepared for bad news, and accept that alterations may need to be made to the dress to cover them.
3. If it isn't stained, leave it alone. Dry-cleaning in particular can do damage to delicate fabrics.
If the dress is perfectly fine but smells of smoke or other party scents, just leave it out to air until the smell dissipates. Some designers think a day or so is enough - and that a mixture of water and fabric softener, misted gently over the material, will help. Only put it back into storage once it's completely dry.
Gowns don't need to be aggressively cleaned unless there's a problem. Doing it too often will strain the material and make paler ones yellow.
4. Plan wearing it beforehand. This isn't a put-on-and-go sort of situation.
Most delicate gowns need to be brought out of storage at least a day before wear, to fully drop and unwrinkle. Steaming the dress in a bathroom is a common way to give it shape and new life.
If you don't have time for a shower, just use the water-fabric softener mix.
Ironing is rare - but if it just can't be helped, be as gentle as possible and put many protective layers between the petticoats and segments of the dress.
Now get somebody to zip you up - and you're ready to go!
Image: Ballgowns from the Dior By Demarchelier photographical project.