Category — Tips

How to Find a Dry Cleaner For Your Vintage Clothing

how to dry clean vintage clothing

Trusting your vintage dresses or vintage fur coats to a dry cleaner causes as much anxiety as finding a baby sitter. In my book. Who do you trust with your precious vintage? Do they know how be careful around that metal zipper or how to handle delicate chiffon? And those beads and rhinestone buttons and sequins? Daunting.

I found my dry cleaner locally. I am happy with them 99% if the time. Sometimes I expect miracles and that just can’t happen. I went through several dry cleaners before I found my current one. It’s like finding a hair stylist or colorist – you ask your friends who you know have had good results or you go with trial and error. But finding a cleaning fairy doesn’t have to be so stressful. Here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Call and ask some telling questions: Do you know how to clean vintage clothing? Do you have experience with older fabrics? Do you clean in house or send out? If they answer with “What do you mean?”, “like from the 70s?”, or “We send it out to be cleaned” – NEXT!
  2. Get something less valuable dry cleaned to test them out – if they totally botch it up, at least you didn’t lose something priceless or rare.
  3. Find out what their policy is – hopefully the cleaner is up front about whether or not they can get that stain out or if they are willing to clean your silk dress. If they give you a confident “SURE we can clean that!” and it comes back in shreds, do they hit you with a “We are NOT responsible…” clause? Find out first.
  4. Stick with the good ones – if you do find a good dry cleaner, stick with them. Bring them all your business, not just your vintage. Leave a positive review on Yelp! or Four Square or Facebook. And let them know you did so ! Good dry cleaners are hard to find. They may even start giving you a bulk discount like mine!

If you happen to live in the Inland Empire/Pomona Valley in California, please check out my dry cleaner Rocky’s in Claremont, CA. They’re the best!


photo credit:

November 7, 2014   2 Comments

9 Must Have Products for Cleaning Your Vintage

Good things come to those who wait? How about good vintage stays with those who know how to take care of their stuff! Vintage clothing is great for the environment, sure, but you and I both know we love vintage clothing for the great design, uniqueness, and excellent construction. But if you want high quality clothing, you have to put in a little more effort than throwing it in the wash and tumbling dry, at least if you want your vintage treasures to last.

These are my recommended products for your vintage cleaning toolkit. Feel free to suggest your faves in the comments!

products for cleaning vintage

1. Folex – This is really a carpet stain remover, but it has been the only commercial product that I have used that can take arm pit stains right out. I have used it on very delicate fabrics and it works like a charm with no damage.

2. Eucalan –  This is a fantastic product for very delicate or older fabrics. No rinsing is necessary so you don’t gave to worry about tearing delicate fabrics.

3. Magic Eraser – I use this on all hard surfaces such as vintage handbags and shoes. It’s especicially good for removing grease pencil and cleaning the bottoms of shoes.

4. Distilled White Vinegar – I spritz white vinegar on any smelly fabrics and hang them to dry. it really gets rid of that dreaded nicotine smell. I also use it on faint underarm stains and I use it in the rinse cycle to brighten colors.

5. Ivory Snow – I use the powder form when I can find it. I like it much better than Woolite. It seems to rinse out better.

6. All Free and Clear – For washable vintage, I use All Free and Clear as my detergent. It has no perfume and free of anything that causes allergies.

7. Kitty Litter – This is great for removing odors from vintage handbags and luggage. I grab a plastic bag, put some kitty litter in it, put my vintage in a pillow case, put the pillow case in the plastic bag and let it sit for a couple of days. Smells disappear.

8. Lavender or Cedar – Lavendar sachets or cedar chips or block are a must for keeping moths away. As much as you try to keep the doors closed, the little suckers can fly right in.

9. SoilLove – This is a miracle stain remover. It  stinks a bit but it gets most stains out. The best part is you can find it at the dollar store. Yup. $1!

June 20, 2013   8 Comments

How to Shop At an Antique Mall

Debutante Clothing

I love shopping at antique malls for vintage clothing and accessories. Some malls are VERY organized, some, not so much. Regardless of how well merchandised a mall is, i love that I don’t have to dig too much to find real gems. As a vintage collector, most of the time the prices can’t be beat. As a vintage dealer, I would still rather pay a bit more for the convenience of it just being there waiting for me to take it home. If you are curious about shopping at an antique mall, here are my tips on how to find the best treasures and negotiate good deals.

1. Shop in the afternoons during the week

Dealers usually bring in fresh merchandise during the week when there aren’t too many crowds. Mornings, or opening time, are the best times for dealers to stock their shelves. Wait until the goodies are stocked and take your pick of the treasures! If you have to shop weekends, get there as soon as they open. You know the saying about the worm.

2. Return unwanted items to the front counter

I always walk around with my “maybe I want this” items. If you change your mind about an item, be kind and take it to the front counter instead of sticking it back just anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I found random items in my booth with missing price tags indicating who they belong to. And I would find some of my missing items in other dealers booths as well. It’s just much easier to return items to their rightful spaces if you let the cashier know you have changed your mind.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount

At the antique mall where I rented a space, cashiers knew that a 10% discount was allowable for most of the dealers in the mall. If you want to ask for a further discount, or want to make an offer, ask the cashier. They will call the dealer and get an approval or rejection. Many times the dealers just want to move some inventory, and if your offer is reasonable, they will accept. But please don’t ask for a 50% discount because a dress has a broken zipper. The keyword here is REASONABLE.

4. Visit your favorite dealers frequently

Good dealers will replenish and merchandise their selections weekly. If you have purchased more than one item from the same dealer, visit them regularly to see if they have any new items. I visit one dealer at a small antique mall regularly because I always find at least one designer vintage item, very reasonably priced, each time I visit her space.

5. Got on the dealers mailing list

A smart dealer will include a website or email address on their signage in their booth or on their price tags. Get on that list to find out when the dealers has restocked or when they might be having sales or selling at flea markets or fairs. It’s always a good idea to stay in touch with dealers you like and trust.

Do you like shopping at antique malls as much as I do? Tell me about it! Leave a comment below.



June 4, 2013   2 Comments

Spring Cleaning Your Vintage Closet


It’s that time! Time to spring clean. And closets need a good cleaning out as much as the rest of your home. Carolyn Schneider, expert bargain shopper and author of The Fifth Edition of The Ultimate Consignment & Thrift Store Guide, offers the following tips on how to efficiently clean your closets

1. Separate Your Clothing Into Four Categories:

Category 1-To sell to a consignment store. Is the item classic, a high-end brand, and in great shape?

Category 2-To donate to a thrift store. Is the clothing older, or from a less well-known brand?

Category 3-To reconstruct. Do you love the fabric, color, or pattern? Do you enjoy crafting, and/or having one-of-a-kind pieces?

Category 4-To keep. Some clothes are timeless staples or have emotional attachment, and belong in your closet for good.

2. Organize Your Closet by Seasons

this will make year-round cleaning easier. It will also give you a better sense of what you need to shop for, and what you may have too much of–in which case, see steps 1-3 above!

3. Know What to Consign for Maximum Profit

When choosing items to consign, designer labels will reap most profit. Items for consignment have to be cleaned, pressed, on hangers, and no more than two years old.

4. Learn How to Give and Receive

When donating to thrift shops, put the items you are donating into large plastic bags. At the store, request a receipt for tax purposes. The IRS allows you to deduct fair market value for items, which is the price the items will sell for in the thrift store.

5. Keep an Inventory List of Items you Would Like to Consign and Donate

Getting your different clothing to its new home may not happen all at once. Keep a running list to stay organized, and so you are not cleaning them back out of your closet next spring.

6. Recycle with Style

Don’t throw out those ripped jeans, turn them into a new and unique handbag! Reduce waste, save money, and update your style by creating new pieces with old clothing. Browse Pinterest or DIY blogs for ideas and directions.

image source: Dear Pao

May 13, 2013   4 Comments

Dressing When You Are Down – How Do You Fake It?

I’m a pretty tough cookie. I can handle most of life’s problems with strength and I persevere. But sometimes, when so much is testing me, I have to give in and accept I can’t handle it all. I have to accept the feeling of being vulnerable and a good batting around from life.

These are the times that I want to stay in bed all day and wear my pajamas out in public. I know. Some people do. But I know that, just like the weather, what I wear has a huge impact on how I feel. So I have to find ways to fake it. I’m digging through my closet for something to go with jeans – something in a bold color. I realize I have nothing that will kick me out of the dumps and at least give me the costume to fake it! I need color!

How do you dress when you are in the dumps? Do you fake it till you feel it? Leave a comment. Let me know!


image source: adorevintage via Noir Facade

October 20, 2011   8 Comments

Vintage Links | The Week in Vintage


Gorgeous pictures of vintage finds at Brimfield vintage show – Design Sponge

Vintage fashion predictions from Sammy Davis Vintage – Sammy D Vintage

Vintage Textile show at Pickwick Gardens this weekend – NBC Los Angeles

Guide to thrifting, marathon style – Goodwill NY NJ

LACMA’s Costume Council and Cameron Silver honor Judith Leiber – All the Rage/LA Times


May 27, 2011   No Comments

Vintage Style | How to Shop for Vintage Eyewear


I just scored a pair of amazing vintage YSL cat eye, tortoise shell sun glasses from Market Publique. I can’t wait to get them. I recently wrote an article for Today’s Vintage Magazine, my monthly vintage fashion column, about shopping for vintage eye wear. I interviewed Robert Alvarez, who is not only an optometrist, but also the co-owner of the Vintage Fashion Expo in Santa Monica.

Check out his tips on how to shop for vintage glasses and sunglasses. He even recommends a few brands to be on the look out for, especially if you will need a prescription like me! Enjoy!

today's vintage vintage eyewear

May 19, 2010   1 Comment

Book Review | How To Never Look Fat Again & Giveaway!


When I was approached to review the book How To Never Look Fat Again, by Charla Krupp, I didn’t know what to expect. Granted I am always asking my hubby, “Do I look fat in this?”, as I am sure many of you do as well. But the idea of being forced to dress a certain way made me a bit nervous. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the book because Charla Krupp doesn’t assume you are unhappy with your weight or your particular size. In fact, she isn’t a size 2 herself. In her intro, she explains how she feels about her body by writing “even though I think I’m fat, most other people do not.” She has the same hang ups as we do about certain parts on our bodies.

Krupp wonders why women don’t ask Do I look chic? but they do ask Do I look fat?. She goes on to explain that the old way of determining the right look for your body type and trying to fit in to a pear shape, apple shape, etc., does not work because these figures do not take into account frame, height, lifestyle. What her style guide does do is give you ways to look your very best whether you are a size 2 or a size 20 based on your problem areas. Really the book does not strive to make you look skinny, just to help you look your best, but I guess that wouldn’t make for an intriguing book title right?


  • well laid out chapters, organized by common issues that make women feel “fat” such as flabby arms and muffin top
  • real life models to show you the “high fat” vs. “low fat” look – great visual. It’s amazing how slim the models look in comparison to their “high fat” look.
  • doable tips that will help you look your best – tonight!
  • Swap-outs: Krupp tells you which bulk adding culprits to get rid of and what to replace them with.

The only part of the book I didn’t care for too much were the celebrity models. I can look at Beyonce and think her shape is closer to mine, but Sarah Jessica Parker? Jessica Simpson? I just couldn’t relate. I thought the plus size models were beautiful and I learned more from looking at them than looking at celebrities that did not have similar bodies to mine. I think they served as an example of ladies with great style and they were wearing pieces that would look great on you too. Perhaps Jennifer Hudson? Oprah Winfrey? The celebrities are a very small part of the guide though.


Interested in getting your very own copy of the book? Debutante Clothing is giving away one copy to a lucky reader! Leave a comment and you are automatically entered. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, March 26 at 11pm PST. Only residents of the U.S. or Canada are eligible to win.

March 22, 2010   7 Comments

Going to a Vintage Show? Insider Tips & Interview

This weekend, vintage collectors and sellers will be going nuts on both coasts – the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show and Santa Monica Vintage Expo are in town. I’m already making plans to meet up with some of my favorite sellers and shoppers. Maybe I can get some pictures to show you!

In the meantime, if you’ve ever had questions about these types of shows, or are just curious about who runs them, I have a great interview with the co-owners of the SM Vintage Expo, Robert and Christie Alvarez. They share their history with the show, their professional observations, and some valuable insider tips on how to work the show. It’s an older video, so don’t mind the dates they have given.

If you want to see more videos, let me know what topics you are interested in! I promise to show my face in the next one.


February 3, 2010   7 Comments

Vintage Shopping: Customer Service & Etiquette

pretty woman snooty shop clerk

If you want the real deal on a shop, you have to read New York Times writer Cintra Wilson’s column Critical Shopper. She pulls no punches. But there’s no Perez-Hilton-esque snark. She just tells it like it is in a hysterically educated way. So when I read Cintra’s review of infamous Lily et Cie in Beverly Hills, CA, it made me think about what kind of customer service is expected in vintage shops, real or virtual.

Lily et Cie got a well deserved lashing for their shitty attitude. But I do understand owner and curator’s Rita Watnick protection of delicate, and often valuable, treasures.

When shopping for vintage there are a few guidelines you should keep in mind.

1. Know your size

Seriously I cannot stress this enough. If you know your measurements, you’ll know you can’t fit into a smaller size. Forgo the humilation and anger of ripping a vintage garment. Go up one size. Never risk it.

2. Handle the garment by the hanger

Vintage silks and rayon are fragile and so are their seams. Handling by the hanger, rahter than the sleeve or skirt will protect the garment from tearing or shredding.

3. Put it back where you found it or give it to the clerk

This is especially true in an antque mall. Don’t assume that things can just be left laying around. If you forgot where it goes, simply give it back to the clerk.

Now I know this is coming off all preachy and elitist, but shopping for vintage is not like shopping at your local mall. Some care is needed with older garments.

But there is no way I would encourage you to shop with someone who does not value you as a customer. Stay away from virtual and brick and mortar stores with these red flags:

  • Attitude – seriously there is no excuse!
  • Unhelpful – if the seller can’t give you insight about the garment (history, style advice, etc.), then they are just selling “stuff” not vintage. Vintage is an experience.
  • Lack of response – online sellers should respond to you in 1 business day unless otherwise stated.
  • Doesn’t go the extra mile – Are clothes cleaned and in good condition? Do they offer care instructions? Do they call or email when they are having sales or found something perfect for you? These are all small things that show what an important client you are.

In today’s economy, apparel companies that incorporate these four details are faring well. Nordstrom and are two companies I will always shop with because they have earned my customer loyalty through customer care.

What about you? Which vintage shops have earned your loyalty? What will make you shop elsewhere?

January 14, 2010   12 Comments

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