Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, July 2010.
“Every garment is enclosed in a blue or black custom-made zippered bag, equipped with a plastic-windowed pocket into which a snapshot of the outfit has been inserted. Affixed to each garment bag are colored stickers, inscribed with numbers, that give the long sacks the enigmatic appearance of a Baldessari painting,” wrote Amy Fine Collins in a 2010 Vanity Fair article about Jacqueline de Ribes. According to lore, de Ribes picked up her storage tips from Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent’s lover and business partner, but today’s modern couture lovers need look no further than Garde Robe. The online-based business stores haute couture collections alongside designer archives in its warehouses across the United States and in Australia and just launched the first-ever couture wardrobe insurance policy with AIG. This is all to say that when it comes to preserving anything from a 1938 Balenciaga dress to a beloved jean jacket, the team at Garde Robe knows every trick of the trade. Here, we present eight of the company’s most-pertinent pieces of advice, though if this sounds too intensive for your liking, just let Garde Robe handle it for you.
1. Invest in the right storage materials.
To the uninitiated, a garment bag is a garment bag full stop. But to the experts at Garde Robe, the only garment bags worth buying are made of breathable fabrics like muslin. The same goes for tissue paper; your standard-fare party box offering will actually ruin clothes. The company recommends buying acid-free paper to wrap delicates in.
2. Ventilate your closet.
Believe it or not, your clothes need to breathe. That means stuffy basements, attics, or locked closets in vacation homes are not ideal locales in which to store your best duds. Dark, airy spaces work best, though if you have no choice but to keep your goods in a closed-off space, be sure to open the doors and turn on fans regularly. Do not leave clothes in plastic dry-cleaning bags that trap in gasses that can cause discoloration.
3. Know what needs to be folded.
There is no one-size-fits-all type of storage. Each item needs particular care right down to whether it’s hung, folded, or stacked. Knits, beaded items, bias-cut, and lacy pieces should be folded with acid-free tissue paper between each layer to safeguard the fibers.
4. No more wire hangers!
Something Mommie Dearest got right: Wire hangers are bad news. Not only do they have a tendency to distort pieces and create that “rabbit ear” effect, but they also rust easily which will stain items.
5. The floor is not your friend.
It might seem logical to stack shoes and bags on the floor, but the moisture that gets locked in flooring can create mildew and mold. Shoes should be kept elevated and wrapped in acid-free paper; bags are best kept in their dust bags.
6. Don’t let your worn clothes mingle with your clean ones.
Most people tend to wear an item more than once before bringing it to the dry cleaner—that’s all well and good, but just make sure those worn garments aren’t being hung or folded next to clean ones. Body oils and perfumes attract bugs that can ravage clothing old and new. The experts at Garde Robe always advise having an item cleaned before retiring it to long-term storage.
7. Keep moths away the all-natural way.
Sachets filled with cedar or lavender are all-natural alternatives to moth balls, but beware, they also contain oils that could spread onto clothing. If you choose to go the sachet route, take extra care to avoid direct contact between the pouch and the garment.
8. Get rid of the vintage smell with a little liquor.
Vodka, not just for drinking anymore! Garde Robe recommends spraying a one part vodka, one part purified water mixture onto garments with that musky vintage smell to rid them of the heavy fragrance.