December 09, 2011

Used Clothing Shopping Tip

When I was a teenager, I was so into vintage clothing that I spent my spare time at the library reading stain guides. No kidding.

Here's a general rule I picked up back then:

Water-based stains (like juice or dirt) will be held by natural fibers (linen, cotton, wool, silk) and repelled by synthetic fabrics. Oil-based stains (like greasy food or lotion) are held by synthetic fabrics and repelled by natural ones.

It's come in handy time and time again, when I'm shopping for vintage clothes and need to know whether some stain will likely disappear with a bit of effort. Some stains are merely on the surface, as the fiber is relatively impenetrable to the stain. Others have soaked in and will need soaking in turn.

Then there's also the combination stain, like perspiration or lipstick, which contains both oil-based and water-based components. Most stain types can be figured out with a bit of thought & common sense.

Ladies dancing in vintage dresses, likely cotton or rayon, in the 1950s.
The perspiration created from dancing so gaily would be
combination stains if not washed out - both body oil and water from sweat.

There are plenty of other questions surrounding this principle, such as how to identify stain types (is this dust or dye transfer?) and fiber content (is this silk or rayon?). I'll work on tackling those topics in another post.

Until then, Vixens, happy shopping!

Woman: A Celebration, edited by Peter Fetterman


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