First For Women

Outsmart stored clothing oops


Unpacking our breezy spring wardrobe is a surefire mood lifter…until we encounter some downright depressing wear-and-tear surprises. Here, pro tricks to fix common problems—fast!

Rescue stretched-out sweaters

“I work as a wardrobe dresser for TV, where the show must go on, and most of my job is fixing disasters in a pinch,” says Corin Wright, owner of Style Haven, a mobile boutique in New York and New Jersey. Her save for stretched-out sleeves on spring-weight cotton sweaters: Soak cuffs in hot water for 10 minutes; lay flat to dry. “The heat will shrink the fibers, but immerse only the damaged area— you don’t want to wet anything you don’t want shrunk.”

Restore faded spots

“When wear and tear or other, more mysterious factors leave a washed-out area on a once-vivid garment, break out a bottle of rubbing alcohol, says Wright. Wetting a cotton ball with the alcohol, then rubbing it over and around the faded spot transfers dye from the surroundin­g fabric to restore color, she explains. Let air-dry, then rinse in cold water. “This method works best on deeply dyed dark or bright-colored fabrics such as linen, cotton and rayon.”

Eliminate odors

“Some of the clothing I deal with has been stored away for months or even years—and it can pick up a stale smell,” says Lauren Arkin, owner of L.A. Boudoir Miami, a vintage clothing boutique. The remedy she swears by to remove

“off ” odors from washable fabrics? “I just soak items made of natural fibers like cotton and washable silk in equal parts vinegar and water for 20 minutes—up to 40 minutes for synthetics like polyester and rayon, which can hold on to odors more stubbornly—then launder as usual.” For more delicate items, Arkin relies on activated charcoal (available at pet-supply stores). “I place the charcoal in a paper bag and punch a few holes in it, then lock it—and the garment—in a lidded plastic bin overnight. The charcoal’s porous texture absorbs odor so clothes smell fresh the next day.”

Erase underarm stains

“White tees are a summer wardrobe staple, but they don’t make a polished fashion statement when they’re yellowed under the armpits,” notes wardrobe consultant Diane Pollack, founder of Stylempowe­r in New York City. The method she swears by to remove them: Mix 1 oz. of liquid dish soap with 2 oz. of hydrogen peroxide, add 1 tsp. of baking soda and apply to stains. Wait an hour, then wash as usual. “The mix’s bleaching action removes stains that form when sweat reacts with aluminum salts in underarm deodorants. It works especially well on white cotton-based fabrics,” says Pollack, who suggests spottestin­g before using on colored garments and avoiding on items labeled “dry-clean only.”

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