Tips

How to care for your cocktail dresses without having to take them to the dry cleaner

If there's one thing you want to wear for a holiday soiree, it's a fun embellished number, am I right? However these dresses can often be hard to wash and clean, especially if you get a not-so-fun stain on them. Ahead are some #fashionhacks you’ll need to take care of your luxurious party dresses
 

When it comes to the party season, the one thing that you can’t do without is a fabulous festive frock.

And true to season, it should be the bolder the better.

From velvet to velour, sequins to silk, the more lustrous your numbers are, the better they’d shine under the limelight.

However, due to the meticulous construction and composition of these fabrics, they are the hardest to care for.

Here, we show you the neat tricks you can deploy to increase the durability of five common party frock materials.

 

Velvet:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Did you know that ultra-luxe velvet is, traditionally, made out of intricately weaved silk pieces?

Today, the commonly known materials used are cotton and rayon, which are inexpensive as compared to silk.

That said, you shouldn’t neglect your “cheaper” velveteen numbers — a Zara dinner jacket requires extra care if you wish to prolong its longevity. Here are some things you should take note of.

 

Do

Read the care label for cleaning directions. Machine wash is possible for crushed velvet, since the structure of the material has been “destroyed” prior.

For other types of velvet, like ciselé (patterned pieces, usually in baroque motifs) and chiffon velvet (lightweight material made out of sheer silk or chiffon rayon), it is necessary for you to bring them to the dry cleaners. We recommend May Tailor and Laundry for dry cleaning services as they’re well equipped with the skills and techniques to properly treat your velvet garments.

Protect your pieces when you put them away: Folding is an absolute no-no as it’ll cause unsightly creases.

Instead, hang them on a silk hanger and wrap them in a sturdy dustbag before stowing them away (Ikeaprovides affordable coat bags without compromising on its quality). To avoid pressure, do remember to leave ample amount of space in between dresses when storing them in your wardrobe.

 

Don’t

Iron at all cost: The heat and pressure will crush the velvet’s formation, thereby leaving unwanted marks. Instead, use a steamer to gently remove any creases. Turn the garment inside out before steaming.

Assert too much pressure on the fabric. This includes: Packing your velvet dresses tightly in your closet or wringing them dry.

If you spilled juice or wine on it, don’t blot the liquids off with a dry paper. When too much force is placed on the fabric, it’ll flatten the raised surface of the fabric and create indentations. Instead, you should shake the moisture off and let it air dry.

Try to remove glue marks or ink stains by yourself. Seek professional help (such as the dry cleaners, as mentioned above) when you encounter stubborn stains.

 

Silk:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Since silk is a natural protein fiber that comes from silkworms, it is one of the most expensive materials used in fashion.

Due to its triangular prism structure, this fabric often has a shiny appearance as it is able to refract light from many different angles.

Hence, garments that are made out of silk often exude luxury and sophistication. Here’s how you can avoid your piece from losing its sheen.

 

Do

Go for dry cleaning services for pieces that are pricey. Normally, care tags would provide instructions on how you should treat your silks.

You must adhere to those that read “Dry Clean Only”. However, if it shows “Dry Clean”, it shows that while professional cleaning is the preferred method, it is not obligatory.

If you wish to save some bucks, hand wash your clothes in cold water. Only use delicate detergent when doing so, like The Laundress Delicate Wash.

If the care label advises machine wash, do remember to use a cleaning net and set your washer to a gentle, cold-water cycle.

Use a steamer to remove any unwanted crease. A steamer is safe and gentle on your delicate numbers.

An iron is possible, but not recommended for those that do not have an array of heat settings. If the care label reads “iron safe”, set the device to low-heat. Press your garments while they are slightly damp to help speed up the process.

Test for colour fastness before washing. Some silks sport bright hues like sunshine yellow or vermilion red, and chances are the colours might bleed. Coat a cotton swab in gentle detergent and water. Then, dab it gently on hidden hemlines or seams to check for the bleeding of dye. If they do so, bring it to the experts for washing.

 

Don’t

Spin dry any silk clothing as it will destroy the integrity of the fabric. The temperature will dull silk, causing it to become lacklustre.

Furthermore, you may risk shrinking the product. After washing your apparel, lay them out onto a clean, absorbent towel to remove the excess moisture. Repeat if necessary. Once done, lay the moist fabric flat on a dry towel, then on a drying rack.

Air dry on wooden hangers: The lacquer on the hangers will transfer onto lighter-coloured fabrics, causing unwanted stains.

Spot-treat: Rubbing a specific region on silk will simply cause that area to lighten, which will create unsightly marks that’ll be harder to remove. Hence, you should wash the entire garment with a silk-friendly detergent. If the stains are dark, dry cleaning is highly recommended.

 

Embellishments:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sequins, beads, appliqués and embroideries — they all fall under the category of embellishments.

Since garments with such accents are prone to snagging on something, they are pieces that require the most care if you wish to keep their integrity intact. Once it is tugged forcefully, there goes the entire row of trimming. Whether it is by hand or by machine, you’ll need to take extra precaution to prevent losing a bead, or two.

 

Do

Check the garment’s base fabric before washing. If the dress is made out of silk, dry cleaning is the preferred method to do so.

For materials like cotton or rayon, you can launder your garments at home. However, it is advisable to hand wash them instead of using a machine.

If time is not in your favour, here’s a tip: Before throwing it into the washer, turn the dress inside-out, zip or button it up and place it into a cleaning net.

Set your washer to gentle cycle. We recommend you use Tide Free and Gentle Laundry Detergent when cleaning these products.

Air dry embellished garments only. Never ever place them in a hot tumble as the heat will melt the accents and deplete the tackiness of the glue.

The dryer’s drum can also scratch and destroy the decorations. Instead, dry them flat and away from the sunlight to prevent tarnishing.

 

Don’t

Iron embellished garments: The heat will loosen the glue holding these embellishments together. Instead, use a steamer when pressing out creases. Turn the number inside out before doing so.

Wring them dry. This is especially so for delicate base materials like satin or silk, as wringing them will cause the accents to jut into the fabrics and create pockmarks. Instead, press them dry and lay them flat.

Launder metal accents as and when you feel like it. As metals will tarnish overtime, you’ll have to be extra careful when cleaning them at home. Products like vinegar and chlorine bleach will rust these metals, which can bleed into your base fabric and ruin the number altogether. Look at the guidelines when cleaning them. Hand wash is one way, but dry cleaning for metallic embellishments would be preferred.

 

Tulle:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Cotton, rayon or nylon are the most common materials that are finely weaved together to produce tulle.

High-end tulle, also known as organza, is traditionally made out of silk. Due to its soft structure, these extravagant pieces are prone to creasing, as well as wear and tear. Here’s how you can prevent this from happening.

 

Do

Keep accessories at bay (or to a bare minimum) when donning tulle. Jewellery that sport snaps and closures are usually sharp and will cling onto your tulle garments easily, causing them to snag.

Store your organza carefully. For skirts, we do not recommend clipping them to a hanger, since the pressure of the clips on your skirts will cause depressions and destroy their shape. Instead, fold them lightly.

Do not stack anything above them to prevent flattening and creasing.

To avoid getting them stained, wrap them into a large piece of tissue, or mahjong paper, before storing. For dresses, use a satin-blend or silk hanger for storage. You can get six pieces under S$30 from Lazada.

Hang your clothes up to dry. By letting them air dry straight, you can prevent wrinkles from forming. Do this indoors, as leaving them under the direct glare of sunlight will cause them to stiffen easily.

 

Don’t

Machine wash or spin dry your tutus, ever. Due to the delicate nature of this fabric, throwing your piece into the washer will cause it to rub against the drums and ruin it.

Instead, you should always hand wash or dry clean your organza garments in cold wash. Only use a gentle detergent when doing so.

Iron them: The heat and pressure applied can ruin its integrity. Avoid using a steamer as well. If creases appear, you can try using hot steam from your shower.

Seal your bathrooms well and prep it with hot shower to create steam. Bring your tulle pieces in and straighten them out by gently combing your fingers through.

 

Feathers:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Though feathers are extravagant details often sported on themed costumes (think feather boas) that you would probably only don once for the holiday season, that doesn’t mean that you should neglect these babies. Here’s how to care for them.

 

Do

Hand wash in warm soapy water if necessary. Machine washing is, obviously, a no-no since it’ll create tension and loosen the glue that’s keeping these feathers together.

If you’re required to remove unsightly stains from them, mix a bowl of lukewarm water with baby soap, like the #OG Johnson’s Baby Wash, and wet them. Do not soak for too long.

Gently rub to remove any unwanted dirt. Make sure you keep the parts that are keeping the feathers attached to the garment dry, to prevent the adhesive from losing its tackiness.

Air dry the feathers naturally. Never use direct heat (no hairdryer or spinning them dry, mind you!) as it’ll melt the glue, causing the feathers to drop and making your frocks go “bald”. Once you’re done cleaning, comb the feathers neatly and gently with your fingers before putting them out to dry. Lay them flat and avoid direct sunlight.

 

Don’t

Use an iron to keep them neat. Excessive heat will simply damage the feathers. Instead, use a steamer. We recommend you invest in one that allows you to manually change the heat settings, like this device from JML. Set it to low heat before proceeding. Hang your numbers up prior to steaming. Do not apply pressure when doing so.

Store them untidily. Folds on the stems of feathers are irreversible. Hence, you should lay your apparel out on a piece of tracing, or mahjong, paper first. Make sure that you do not tug onto the feathers — they should be as flat as possible. Provide ample space when keeping them in your closet. To prevent your feathers from flattening, do not stack any garments on top of them. For dresses, hang them on a satin hanger and zip them up in a garment bag before stowing them away.

 

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