With the maximalism trend going strong, it’s completely normal to show up at the office on a Tuesday wearing a fully sequined skirt. But you can’t just toss all of that bling into the washing machine. Joe Hallak of Hallak Cleaners, New York’s go-to couture cleaners, talks us through the process of caring for a bedazzled J.Crew top like a gown coming down the Chanel runway.
AVOID A SINK FULL OF SPARKLES
First things first: Figure out how the embellishments are attached to the fabric to determine whether you can wash at home. Take a close look at your garments. If you see threads or beads with little holes at either end, it means the embellishments are sewn on. Scan for any loose threads that need mending. “Broken threads should be sewn securely before washing, or you can end up with a sink full of sequins or beads,” says Hallak. If the ornamentation is glued, test to make sure the glue won’t breakdown in a wash. Soak one bead in warm to hot water for a couple of minutes. If the bead feels wobbly, leave it to the pro’s at the dry cleaner’s.
ALWAYS HAND WASH EMBELLISHMENTS
Embellished garments are the divas of your wardrobe -- so you need to treat them accordingly. Skip the washing machine and roll up your sleeves. “Handwashing is always safer, and with delicate garments why would you want to take a chance?,” asks Hallak. Fill a sink with lukewarm water. Add detergent, mix and submerge the embellished piece. Soak for 20 minutes before rinsing. Gently press the water out.
EASY WITH THE RINSING
As for detergent, Hallak likes Woolite or baby shampoo. “If it’s gentle enough for a baby’s skin and hair, it’s safe enough for your knits and blouses,” he says. Another bonus: These two soaps don’t require a ton of rinsing. “The more rinsing you have to do the better chance you have of messing up the garment.”
HOW TO SPOT CLEANING
Spilled something on your sparkly top? No problem -- take a damp towel and wipe it off. You’re basically wiping plastic or metal, which don’t absorb stains. Stones and beads, on the other hand, are a bit trickier. For this, Hallak recommends the spoon method. Lay the item on the kitchen counter. Add a drop of dish detergent on the stain (preferably colorless) and dampen it. Then, using the back of a spoon, agitate the stain to loosen it up. “It’s hard to damage anything using the back of a spoon,” he explains. Gently dab a damp white towel to soak up the stain. “Stains have to be absorbed somewhere or else you’re just moving it around,” says Hallak.
THE BEST WAY TO DRY
Back away from the dryer. “Anytime you deal with ornamentation, mechanical action is what you’re trying to stay away from,” says Hallak. Plus, the heat could melt the sequins. Instead, lay knits flat to dry as explained in our cashmere section. Hallak recommends spreading blouses over the middle bar of a thick plastic hanger to air dry. Just remember: Never hang a wet blouse by the shoulders or you’ll get marks. Plastic hangers are key here because metal hangers can rust, and our favorite fuzzy kind usually contains colors, which can run.
THE BEST WAY TO GET RID OF WRINKLES
There’s no looking frumpy in your embellished numbers, so wrinkles be damned! Stones and beads can withstand a steaming, but sequins are a bit tricky. “If you have plastic sequins the heat can curl them,” warns Hallak. His advice: test a section first. Once you’re in the clear, turn your garment inside out and start steaming from six inches away. “If you see you’re not in trouble (and the wrinkles aren’t coming out) go a little closer,” he says. But make sure to move the nozzle around so you’re applying steam without too much heat. “Don’t keep the steam on one area for 5 or 6 seconds -- that’s trouble,” Hallak says.
THE BEST WAY TO STORE
Sequins, stones (often fastened by prongs), and beads are notorious fabric-snaggers. Avoid any wardrobe snarls by wrapping your embellished pieces in tissue, and storing them separately from other garments in your closet. If you can get your hands on acid-free tissue paper, even better. Fold knits, but hang fabrics that won’t stretch, making sure the weight of the ornamentation isn’t going to drag the garment down. (That’s unlikely unless you’ve got some very heavy ornamentation, says Hallak.) Most garments that are tightly woven (silks, cottons, linens, and rayons) can handle the weight of embellishments, so put those on a hanger.
Now that you've taken care of your extra-special pieces, don't forget about these everyday essentials: socks! Watch how to organize your sock drawer here: