How archive designer garments are stored, plus storage tips to help your clothes last longer

Photographed by Kelsey Marie
Photographed by Kelsey Marie

In the midst of the resurges of the slow fashion wave in fashion, keeping clothes you already own for as long as possible is important. In attempts to slow down clothing turnover, your first instinct might be to buy high-quality clothes that can often come expensive.

But, what good is it buying quality clothes if their life cycle will be cut down because of damaging storage habits?

Simply looking at how the world’s top designers store and care for their prized archival gowns that can be decades old, you'd be able to draw some real lessons you can apply to your valued wardrobe.

Recently, designer Harris Reed – who has dressed Solange, Sophie Tuner and most notably Harry Styles – shared how he preserves some of Harry Styles' memorable looks. Published on W Magazine, the designer says one of Harry Styles' custom suits is stored in a “frozen vault” like a “giant refrigerator”.

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The archival Thierry Mugler pieces Cardi B wore at the 2019 Grammy Awards were transported from Paris to Los Angeles, some in shallow life-size boxes filled with tissue paper, and others in multiple deep containers.

Former First Lady of the U.S. Michelle Obama has the notable gowns she was gifted by designers stored in the country’s National Archives, her press secretary is quoted saying on Glamour.

While we don’t all have access to archival facilities there are a few lessons we can learn from how precious fashion pieces are stored — keep then dry, keep them cool and know when to store them horizontally or vertically.

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This is what you can do to help your treasured fashion items have a longer life:

Pay attention to hangers

When hanging clothes it’s important to know how the hanger will benefit your items and what harm should be avoided. Firstly, when using clip hangers, have a barrier between the clips to prevent the hanger from digging into your garments. Certain store brands ship their garments with these hangers and the protectors, so it would be advisable to keep them.

Secondly, ill-fitting hangers have the potential to stretch your shirts, blazers and other similar clothing items. Plastic, wooden or wire hangers often accommodate a wide range of sizes, so be sure to use these adjustable types. If you find a hanger that is too small it can stretch out midway on your shoulders and if the hanger is too big it can create protruding shapes on your arms.

Lastly, it can be helpful to use the available hang straps you find inside your garments when hanging them. The straps help reinforce and support your clothes as they hang.

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Storing horizontally

T-shirts and light cotton items are best stored on shelves, folded horizontally. According to the New York Times, folding t-shirts keeps them fluffy and they should be folded with the sleeves toward the back, inwards, and folded once in half. It’s not advisable to hang t-shirts and like cotton clothing items because these items can stretch.

When it comes to drying your clothes, there are certain items that need to dry horizontally. Ensure that you check your care labels and apply the instructions accordingly.

Avoid dampness

To avoid stubborn mould on your treasured garments, make sure you store them dry. Fashion archivist Julie Ann Clauss tells Forbes that clothing storage shouldn’t be situated near bathrooms to avoid humidity fluctuations. The goal is to keep your clothes dry while they are store.

Have you ever experienced a storage conundrum with your wardrobe? Let us know what lessons you’ve learnt here.

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