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Luxury clothing is an investment in style, design, and quality. These pieces don’t just look great: if you properly handle them, they will last. Learn how to take care of luxury clothing so that you can wear your favorite pieces again and again.
Here’s a heretical idea: you don’t have to wash most clothes after every wearing. Some can go weeks or even months without a full cleaning. However, you must immediately spot-clean stains with clean water and a fresh, clean towel. Furthermore, don’t fool yourself into thinking your luxury fabrics will do alright in the “delicate” cycle of the washer. Bra hooks snag, elastic stretches, and lace can tear even on the “hand-wash” cycle. If you must use the washer, put your lovely lacy things in a mesh bag to minimize damage. Better still, hand-wash them by swishing them in lukewarm or cold water with very gentle detergent made for fragile items or even gentle shampoo. Then squeeze—don’t twist—and lay them flat, hang them up, or use a drying rack to air-dry.
The dryer is also the enemy of quality clothing. Heat breaks down fibers in fabrics. That woolly-looking stuff all over your dryer’s lint screen is a small percentage of the materials your garments are made of—and that means your garment loses some of itself every time it goes in the dryer. Hang lightweight garments up to air-dry. For sweaters, gently squeeze out excess moisture, but never twist or wring them. Hand-wash, and then roll the garment in a towel and lay it flat on another clean towel to dry.
The most obvious way to take care of luxury clothing is simply to read the label. Learn the meaning of the symbols on the labels: the slash through the bucket of water means dry-clean only. The bucket with the hand in it means hand-wash only. A filled-in triangle with an X through it means to never use bleach.
Use the Right Gear, and Store Garments Appropriately
A steamer works better than an iron on most everything other than cotton or linen. Make sure you have proper wood or padded coat hangers that don’t poke beyond the shoulders of your shirts or jackets. Use shoe trees to maintain the shape of your lovely leather pumps or loafers. Invest in a quality clothing brush and lint roller that will gently pick up or brush away any dust, hair, and bits of fuzz you may pick up as you go through your day.
Clothes also need air circulation, so don’t cram them up against each other in an overstuffed closet. Keep garments out of direct sunlight and excessive heat.
Leave the Beads and Baubles to the Pros
There’s an art to cleaning the show-stopping gala gown or shimmering cocktail dress. If you hope to preserve the sequins and beads to sparkle another day, take the gown to a professional dry-cleaner.
Some one-of-a-kind garments or special occasion dresses such as wedding gowns or prom dresses become instant heirlooms after one wearing. Don’t leave your children and grandchildren with a boxful of wrinkles or a moth-eaten veil. These garments must be professionally cleaned and packed for storage if you hope to pass them down—or perhaps take them out a few decades after you first wore them just to prove they still fit.