Fashion

The Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of All Your Delicate Garments

Make your fashion investments last longer with these expert care tips.
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At one point or another, we've all used the trusty ‘cost-per-wear’ logic to justify our favorite fashion indulgences. And as fine clothing is usually made with superior materials and sturdier construction, our sartorial rationalizations aren’t actually that far from the truth. From delicate silks to designer three-piece suits, our clothing investments will surely last longer and look newer when given expert care and stored properly.

Plus, there is a certain elegance to curating a closet of timeless classics, peppered with a few trendy, seasonal additions that allow us to really evolve our sense of style. And with our profound realizations on the importance of sustainability, the notion of maintaining the longevity of our clothes could not be timelier.

From finicky pieces that require deft coddling to sturdier fare that is actually better left alone, Town&Country lists down all the practical care tips that will have you caring for your garments like an expert.

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Back to Basics

1. DO read the care label.

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Care labels offer more information than we give them credit for. Manufacturers indicate whether it’s best if a garment is washed or dry cleaned, if it can or cannot be ironed, or if it should or shouldn’t be tossed in the dryer. Taking the time to figure out what’s best for one’s clothes will keep them looking great for longer.

2. DO ascertain fiber content.

One of the quickest ways to determine how best to wash a piece of clothing is to find out what it’s made of, which is often indicated in the label. Cotton, for example, is quite sturdy but may shrink when exposed to hot water or a dryer. Spandex, or any garment that has stretchable fibers factored into the fabric, benefits from being washed in cold water, sans ironing.

3. DO mend small tears and loose buttons immediately.  

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Attach loose buttons and sew small holes as soon as possible, to keep the problem from getting bigger. If you prefer not to DIY it though, take your clothing items to a tailor or alterations shop for repair.

4. DO wash denim inside out, and avoid the dryer.

We live in our jeans, and sometimes we pay quite a high price for them. Yet despite their sturdy appearance, denim should be washed carefully. Some denim aficionados prefer to handwash jeans to preserve the color and the fibers. On the other hand, a more practical approach others subscribe to is to turn them inside out and put them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. Hang them to air dry, afterward.

5. DON'T cram your clothes in your closet and don’t store them in plastic.

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Beautiful garments need space to breathe and should be stored in a cool and dry closet with ample air circulation. Squishing them together can result in them wrinkling unnecessarily, or cause them to snag on each other. Plastic boxes and bags should be avoided as well, as these can trap unwanted moisture in and cause mildew.

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6. DO finish up your hair and makeup routine first before getting dressed.

Makeup, hairspray, and even perfume can wreak havoc and stain fine garments. Make sure to apply cosmetics and other beauty products first before getting dressed.

Fine Filipiñiana & Barongs

With Filipiñiana fare experiencing a welcome renaissance in recent years, expect to see more of our beautiful terno and modern iterations of our traditional dressmaking waves in both the fashion and street style scenes. On the other hand, the Barong Tagalog has always been a menswear frontrunner and shows no indications of slowing down.

1. DO dry clean your terno and store it properly in a box afterward.

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With its bold silhouette, the butterfly sleeve is one of the most iconic elements of Filipiñiana attire. Designer Jojie Lloren recommends dry cleaning to maintain the terno’s delicate shape. It should never be hung, and should instead be stored in a box, with the sleeves lying flat one on top of the other. Lloren also recommends stuffing the sleeves with cotton hand towels to maintain its shape.

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2. DO hand wash pieces made of jusi or piña.

Lloren recommends delicately handwashing garments made of natural fibers such as jusi or piña in cold water with a small amount of mild detergent dissolved in. They should then be stored in cotton pillowcases to allow them to breathe. They can also be stored in an archival box with acid-free tissue paper.

3. DO give barong Tagalogs special care.

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As most barongs are made of piña or jusi, they should also be hand-washed in cold water with mild soap or detergent. Stubborn dirt should be gently scrubbed off with a soft toothbrush. One should not wring the barong, and instead, allow it to drip dry while lying flat. Afterward, have it pressed inside-out while still damp to avoid damaging the fabric.

Silk, Knits and other Delicates

A lot of people are intimidated by the notion of silk, or other fine textiles for that matter, but caring for them need not be so daunting. With some know-how and a few timely tips, you are off to caring for these exquisite pieces with flair.

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1. DO a spot test for silk items to test for colorfastness.

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If you’re not sure about whether or not your silk piece can be washed, do a spot test on the inside seam or an unseen part of the garment. Drip a small amount of water, along with the detergent you plan to use, and then rub a cotton swab on the area. If the fabric’s dye stains the swab, then the garment needs to be dry cleaned.

2. DO hand wash silk items with care.

Most silk items can be washed by hand, and you can do this by swishing them in a basin of cold water mixed with mild detergent. When the garment is clean, place them between a towel and roll to gently press the water out. Lay them flat to dry, or hang them on a padded hanger and air dry. Avoid too much sun though, as this can cause colors to fade.

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3. DO pay special attention to velvet.

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Some velvet is dry clean only, while others can be washed, so make sure to read the care labels first. Additionally, never iron velvet, as it can crush the fibers and leave a permanent mark on your clothes.

4. DO take extra care when washing your knits.

The first step in determining how to clean knits is to check the care label, according to fashion designer and knitwear expert Lulu Tan-Gan. Some knits should be hand-washed, while others can be placed inside a washing machine. If the latter is true, place knitted garments in a mesh laundry bag and wash them with gentle soap or Woolite in warm water. Tan-Gan prefers machine washing because this efficiently gets water out of the garment, which is an important process to prevent deformity while drying. If one prefers line drying, make sure to balance out the weight of the garment while hanging. On the other hand, one can also opt to use a dryer, wherein a low setting is preferred.

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5. DO fold your knitwear instead of hanging them.  

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To maintain its shape, Tan-Gan thinks it’s best to fold knitwear, as hanging them may cause them to elongate or become misshapen. 

6. DO give your lingerie a lot of TLC.

Gorgeous lingerie should always be hand-washed to keep them looking beautiful. In cold water with mild soap, allow the pieces to soak for a bit before gently washing them. Hang them to dry and store neatly folded in a drawer.

Wedding Gowns and Eveningwear

Who doesn’t love couture? From intricate evening gowns to delicate lace bridal stunners, keep these megawatt pieces looking their best with these expert tips. 

1. DO send your wedding gown a reputable dry cleaner right after use.

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Between all the drinking, dancing, and socializing, it’s no wonder bridal gowns tend to get a little scruffy after the wedding. To help prevent stains from permanently setting, it’s best to send them to a reputable dry cleaner right after your big day.

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2. DO store your wedding gown properly after it’s been dry cleaned.

After your gown has been thoroughly inspected, mended, and cleaned, the next step in caring for it is to store it properly. Elizabeth Francisco of Jeeves Manila recommends using an archival box to store your gown, with acid-free tissue paper in between. But should you opt to use the designer’s cardboard box, Francisco recommends a yearly inspection to make sure the gown hasn’t yellowed or developed any brown spots.

3. DON’T hang heavy gowns or jersey.

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Beaded gowns tend to be quite heavy and should be folded in a box or drawer. The same goes for jersey fabrics, as the fabric could be stretched out over time if left hanging.

Suits and Ties

A great suit, or a few amazing ones for that matter, can be one of the best investments a man can make for his wardrobe. It conveys professionalism whilst having one look absolutely dapper in the process. To keep them always looking sharp, follow these expert tips.

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1. DON’T clean your suits too often.

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It may come as a surprise, but it’s actually not advisable to dry clean your suits too often. It is important to do so when soiled, according to Francisco of Jeeves. And as they are meant to be worn as a set, she also recommends that they are professionally cleaned at the same time so the colors always match.

2. DO give your ties some TLC.

Ties are a great finishing touch to a dapper ensemble. To keep them in mint condition, make sure to be cautious when removing them and drape them over a coat hanger or rack after use instead of rolling them up. Get creases out with a steamer instead of an iron.

Leather and Suede

1. DO clean leather items with a soft, damp cloth.

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The simplest way to clean leather is to wipe dirt off with a damp cloth. After cleaning, hang them in a dry closet with good airflow. Once in a while, have them cleaned by a professional cleaner or leather specialist to keep them in mint condition.

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2. DO keep suede items in tip-top shape with some gentle cleaning.   

For everyday care, brushing off dirt with a suede brush will keep these supple garments in great condition. You can also consider spraying your suede jacket with a protector to prevent surface stains from water and oil. For stubborn dirt however, it’s best to take these items to a professional cleaner.

Swimwear and Sportswear

While activewear was initially designed for function, they are now becoming quite stylish with a sartorial reverence for form. Keep them looking great and performing well with these nifty reminders.

1. DO wash swimwear immediately after use.

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Swimwear should be washed in cool water after a dip to get rid of saltwater, chlorine, sunscreen and other dirt. Afterward, gently squeeze the water out before laying them flat to dry.

2. DO keep your workout clothes fresh.

Like swimwear, it’s best to wash gym clothes immediately after a workout, or at least hang them instead of having them bunched up in a hamper. And when you do get to it, wash them in a machine with cold water, and air dry to maintain elasticity.

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3. DON’T be afraid to launder your down jackets.

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Oliver Castro of Timberland Philippines recommends machine washing down jackets in cold water. Then, tumble dry on the lowest setting with some tennis balls to fluff the jacket. He also adds that it’s best to store them in a well-ventilated storage area away from direct sunlight. But the best way to keep them in fresh condition longer is to actually use them and enjoy them, or if you can’t go on vacation just yet, to air them out every so often.

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