Smart Care for Your Off-Season Wardrobe
A client recently asked (believing it was finally safe to put her family’s winter coats away), how best to store them. If you had your own winter wear in “ready mode” for so long you wondered if you’d be able to stow it at all, your coats & sweaters may have landed in an unfortunate heap in the corner of your bedroom floor or laundry room. It’s time now. School’s out for summer; your dark colors and lofty woolens can take a rest. As you send them to their proper location, use this tip list to make sure they’re in top form to serve you another season come fall.
#1 Clean Thoroughly
Follow manufacturers’ recommended laundering or dry cleaning instructions before stowing garments for the season. Even if an item looks clean, when you’re not certain whether it was worn after last laundering, give it a good-measure cleaning. Stains not visible to your eye now, when allowed to set over time, may surprise you when resurrecting your clothing from storage after a few months.* Food particles have the added nasty habit of attracting moths. Fabric softeners and starch can attract insects as well, so avoid these in your laundering process.
* If you notice tiny holes in sweaters or other items, and suspect they indicate moth damage, do this: put the item in a plastic bag and place in your freezer for 48 hours. Remove for a day, then re-freeze for another 48 hours to thoroughly kill off any larvae.
#2 Smooth and Press
Make sure items are completely dry before putting them away. Moisture, locked in over time, results in mildew. Take an iron or steamer to laundered items that the are left wrinkled after drying. Wrinkles can become semi permanent after months in hibernation. (I like Jiffy steamers. They’re the makers of professional launders’ equipment. Use the code of “IMAGE225” and you’ll get free shipping at Jiffy’s site.)
#3 Ditch the Plastic
Remove dry cleaners bags before putting your good stuff into storage. In fact, it’s a good practice to remove plastic from all garments as soon as they come back from cleaning. Natural fibers like to breathe. Plastic also locks in moisture, again allowing mildew to form and mold to grow. This will not make for a pretty reunion with your favorite dress next fall. Save the paper shoulder covers that come from the dry cleaners — they provide good dust protection. Alternate protection comes in the form of fabric garment bags like these. Or, if you’ve got an entire section of closet dedicated to your out-of-season clothing, toss and old (clean) sheet over the whole area.
#4 Pamper Knits
Knit sweaters, tops, and dresses require special care. Store them folded instead of hanging so they don’t lose their shape during their time in storage. Hanging them as you do a blouse runs the risk that they will “grow,” or come out of storage with unsightly “bumps” in the shoulder. The very best scenario is packing your knits in an unused suitcase lined with acid-free paper. Cardboard boxes can attract bugs and harbor moisture (there’s that mildew issue again), and plastic bins are bulky and, well, plastic. If you don’t have a proper storage container and must use hangers, use this method. More about protecting your precious wardrobe investment here.
#5 Repel Unwanted Guests
Once you’ve made wise choices in cleaning, choosing proper containers, and packing, you’ll not want to leave things to chance. Take the extra measure of insect management by tucking some lavender sachet or cedar blocks into your clothing packages. (Your grandma might have used moth balls, but we now know how toxic these can be to children, pets, etc.) Keep your storage area cool, dark, and dry. And to be sure all is well in the insect department, consider checking in on your off-season wear every few weeks. A mark on your calendar may help. Most of us aren’t likely to think about our wool coat and scarf during beach season.
(Read this blog post for help deciding what not to store away.)
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Patty Buccellato, is an image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups. Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls! To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit www.RefinedImages.net or contact Patty.
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