Caring for Vintage Clothing

The term vintage can apply to clothing made in a previous era, but the industry standard states that items made between 20 and 100 years ago are considered vintage.  Because styles seem to come and go, it can be difficult to determine whether a garment is actually vintage; however, things like metal zippers, side-snap closures, saw-toothed edges, pinked seams, and union labels printed in blue can indicate if a garment was manufactured before the mid 1960’s. 

In addition, sizing standards and undergarments have changed over the years.  If you try on a vintage garment and the fit isn’t right, it could be that the piece was manufactured with a particular undergarment to be worn underneath.  If that’s the case, and you love the piece, you could have it tailored for a more custom fit.

How to Care for a Vintage Garment:

  • Check the care label. While we always recommend doing that before cleaning any garment, Shores doesn’t recommend throwing vintage items in the washing machine on a regular cycle.
  • Be gentle. If the label indicates that it is machine washable, we still recommend handwashing over machine washing to limit the amount of agitation the fabric receives. It might be possible to wash the garment on gentle in a mesh bag provided it isn’t too fragile. Vintage garments can often have dry rot or insect damage, so using great care will preserve the clothing longer.
  • Avoid the dryer. We recommend this for anything that’s delicate, including vintage pieces.
  • Seek a professional. Shores, between our professionally trained staff and state-of-the-art equipment, is distinctively suited for uniquely special pieces. We constantly seek training and stay current with the latest in fashion, fabrics, and cleaning processes. When a special piece like a vintage garment arrives in our store, we would immediately follow our Silver Service protocols, which includes things like pre and post measuring to ensure sizing, button removal or covering prior to cleaning, stain pre-treating, customized cleaning processes, and hand finishing. In addition, Shores has a process to whiten garments that have yellowed over time.

Vintage garments are such a rare find and are near impossible to replace if ruined.  Don’t trust those one-of-a-kind pieces to just anyone; that’s what Shores is here for.