5 Ways To Care For Your Vintage, With Glass Onion

30th January 2024
Lottie Hammond-Wright

For many Revival-goers, the love affair with vintage goes beyond mere fashion; it's a journey into the past, a celebration of craftsmanship, and a commitment to sustainable style. As devoted enthusiasts of all things vintage, we understand that caring for these treasures is not just a responsibility but a way of preserving the magic they hold. 

Join Glass Onion, the UKs leading vintage clothing company, as they delve into the art of how we can nurture our beloved vintage pieces, with the best practices required to ensure they remain as beautiful as the day they were first created. 


  1. Don’t Ignore The Care Label

The introduction of at-home washing machines in the ‘50s, with their two basic settings – 95C for hot washes and 60C for non-colourfast dyed materials – led to the development of a clothing care ‘language’ by the ‘60s; one which is still used to this day. To keep your vintage looking fresh be sure to examine and decode the care label in each piece prior to washing and don’t be tempted to cut corners – they’re there for a reason.

Remember though, while post-‘60s clothing may come with such a label, many are still very delicate, in which case, give point two a go instead.

2. If In Doubt, Hand Wash!


“Until the 1950s, care for garments was basic and simple as most textiles were made from natural fibres.” So if an item does not have a care label, perhaps due to being handmade or made before this care language came into existence, Glass Onion recommends hand washing:

“Dry cleaning isn’t always practical, or cost-effective, so to give your vintage piece a freshen-up, hand wash it using gentle detergent and cool water, and leave it to air dry. If there’s a stain on your garment, consider spot treating the area with a gentle stain bar before going the whole hog and washing the whole piece. Try the treatment on a hidden area first in case of any possible damage.”

3. Choose Your Dry Cleaner Carefully


If you choose to wash the item at a dry cleaner, ensure you pick one that understands vintage fabric. Certain dry cleaning solvents and processes aren’t suitable for all vintage textiles, so make sure you’re 100% happy with their plan of action before leaving anything in their care.  

When it comes to finding a dry cleaner, Couture Allure Vintage Fashion Blog recommends: “Taking a test garment to be cleaned… Stick with something in wool or cotton, as these fibres are more forgiving, but choose something with a detail that will need attention. Don't choose a satin or taffeta garment for this first test.”


  1. Store In A Dark, Dry Place

Dust, damp and daylight can be the downfall of your vintage. When you’re not wearing your favourite vintage pieces, store them in a dark and dry place. For an extra layer of protection, hang your vintage on a padded hanger in a zip-up breathable garment bag. Pop in a couple of mothballs to cover all bases. 

In fact, Sue O’Donoghue, former Theatrical Coordinator and Costume Curator at Goodwood suggests going a step further to keep away the bugs and mites: “If you think moths are a danger to your vintage silks and knits, put your pieces in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer to kill any bugs, then make sure you get some pheromone traps for your wardrobes. While cedar blocks and lavender paper smell divine they won’t do the job!”


  1. Restyle, Repair, Rewear

Around 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in household bins every year in the UK alone. If your garment gets damaged, have a go at repairing it (or style it out and call it character).

If a simple fix is required, the Revive & Thrive Best Dressed winner and long-time sewist, Helen Mcintosh, has a few simple handy tips for keeping your vintage going strong:

1 A Broken Seam
• Turn the item inside out, pin it in place along the break, and either with a sewing machine or a hand-held needle, stitch along the broken thread.
• Most of the time, there will be a fold in the fabric along the original fold line, so use this as a guide.
• Give yourself some leeway from the original break, starting and finishing an inch or two beyond the split so the broken thread isn’t tempted to run leaving you with another hole.
• Better yet, restitch the whole seam.

2 A Dropped Hem
• A hem can be done by turning up the material, then another turn to cover the fraying ends.
• Pin your fold in place and fix with a simple straight stitch.

3 A Popped Button
• Placing your button on the garment, take a needle and thread and stitch across the holes if there are 4, or just one to the other if there are 2.
• Make sure it’s fastened well into your garment so it doesn’t fall off.
• Repeat the process on all your desired buttons. You might want to consider changing up an item with some thrifted or vintage buttons which can give a whole new look to an old item of clothing


Keep Their Story Alive

In the world of vintage fashion, where each piece holds a unique story and a touch of nostalgia, it is essential to embrace practices that honour the craftsmanship and history woven into these garments. By incorporating gentle cleansing routines, mindful storage solutions, the artistry of skilled tailoring, and the magic of restyling, we not only extend the life of our vintage finds but also contribute to a sustainable and stylish future. And remember, when it is time, pass your clothes on to a loved one, resell them, or donate items to keep them out of landfill and prolong their life.

Here's to a wardrobe filled with stories, memories, and a commitment to preserving the beauty of vintage fashion for generations to come.


Glass Onion was founded in 2004, and has since grown to become the UKs leading vintage clothing company, processing up to 20,000 kgs (44,000 lbs) of preloved and vintage clothing every single week. Every piece has been thrown away and was destined for landfill. Since 2016 they began recycling damaged and unwanted clothes and off-cuts in house, transforming them into new items.

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