“Old Apartment” read the words on the cardboard box. Looking mystified, my client said, “It could be anything!”
It turned out to contain a random assortment of mugs, books, and one groovy, custom-made 1970’s purple suede bell bottom and vest outfit worthy of Cher in her heyday!
While helping my client try to sell this unique treasure, I was lucky enough to come across Amy Mayberry of Viva Vintage Clothing. She asked some very specific questions about the condition of the outfit that made me realize she’s a true specialist.
With nearly 30 years in the vintage clothing industry, Amy generously let me pick her brain for tidbits of wisdom to pass along to you. My next blog will be all about how to sell clothing (vintage and current), but first up I’m going to share what Amy taught me about clothing storage.
Aim to prevent the problem
so you don't have to try to fix it later.
Stains, moth holes, fading and more are all hazards of improper clothing storage.
Whether it’s clothes that you’re storing away or ones that are currently hanging in your closet, you want them to last. Amy shared five major things to avoid so you can keep your clothes in top condition.
AMY'S BIG NO'S OF CLOTHING STORAGE
Plastic traps moisture, prevents clothes from breathing, encourages mildew, and can react with dyes. Remove clothes from dry-cleaning bags and, if you need a cover, use breathable cotton or canvas.
Joan Crawford aka Mommie Dearest was right! Wire hangers deform the textile and can even rust. The paper around dry cleaning hangers can yellow and discolor the fabric. And please don’t hang knitwear because it can stretch out of shape.
Handbags, hats, and shoes must be stuffed before storing so they don’t collapse and crease. Creases are nearly impossible to get out of leather and it’ll cost you big bucks to have a leather expert try.
Don't store anything that isn't clean. You're just asking for pests and permanent stains.
Sunlight fades fabric, so avoid windows in closets and don’t place clothing racks in front of windows. If your closet has a window, get a light-blocking shade.
Now you know what not to do. Next you’ll want to figure out what type of storage you’re dealing with. Amy thinks about storage in 3 levels: temporary, long-term, and archival.
(Side note: This reminds me of the 3 categories in my Art of Paperwork system. It’s great when we can apply similar organizing principles to different projects!)
Not all clothes should be stored in your closet. Here’s how to use Amy’s levels to figure out where and how to store things.
AMY’S 3 LEVELS OF CLOTHING STORAGE
1. Temporary Storage
Short-term storage of off-season clothes or clothes that don’t fit right now but you hope will fit soon (I’m talking about those “hopeful” jeans that we all own!) doesn’t have to be too elaborate. Keep them in a bin in the back or on a high top shelf of your closet. Closet space at a premium? Store them under the bed or in a linen closet.
2. Long-Term Storage
Things you’re saving for a while, such as clothes for the next child to grow into or baby clothes to pass along to grandchildren, should be washed and stored in airtight containers away from pests, moisture, and heat. Use acid-free tissue to line the bin and pad the folds of the fabric. Put the bins in a storage area of your home—no need for them to take up precious closet space.
3. Archival Storage
Things that have value—financial, sentimental, or historical—should be stored archivally. A wedding gown might be both pricey and emotionally valuable, so store it carefully. A client of mine had a handmade, antique baptismal gown that proved to be of historical significance to her ancestral hometown. For these exceptional items, think preservation.
As Amy said, "If it's something that's special to you, it's worth taking the time because you can’t undo poor storage.
Prevention is better than remediation.”
Here are Amy's archival best practices:
While you’re going through your stored clothes and applying Amy’s advice, see if you can find any old gems that you no longer wear. In the next blog, I’ll help you figure out if they’re worth selling and tell you how to sell them.