The Ultimate Guide to Shopping and Caring for Clothing: Everything You Need to Know from Blue Jeans to Ballgowns

The Ultimate Guide to Shopping and Caring for Clothing: Everything You Need to Know from Blue Jeans to Ballgowns

by Steven P. Boorstein

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Overview

How This Book Is Organized

Part 1: Shopping I started this book with shopping, and the options that we all have available to us-but that many of us never knew existed. I have a powerful appreciation for outstanding customer service and deeply believe that you deserve nothing less.

Part 2: Basics for Men and Women Here I delve into all the "silent" components of the fabric of our lives-the buttons, linings, pleats, belts, stains, and a basic knowledge of fabrics. These are the stepping stones to knowledge, awareness, and, ultimately, to gaining control of our clothing investment.

Part 3: Steaming and Pressing The steaming and pressing of our clothing is as important (and perhaps more challenging) as the cleaning and washing of it. Most consumers know little about the subtleties of this part of the process-the "finishing" of a garment. But it is a key part of the maintenance and care of clothing. It affects every piece of clothing we clean.

Parts 4-6: Shopping and Caring for Men's and Women's Clothing Now, on to the rudiments of buying men's and women's clothing: everyday clothing, formalwear, bridal gowns, leather, suede and fur, and clothing accessories. All the information comes together here like an "ensemble" when we begin to care and clean these valuable possessions.

Part 7: Home and Storage: Ironing, Closet Care, and Reweaving Good habits extend the life of our clothing. Rather than dispose of clothing due to wear, abuse, or old age, we can embrace the basics of clothing restoration. Whether we are repairing, reweaving, cleaning, or storing, our clothing deserves extra attention-it often beats buying new clothing!

Part 8: What Is Drycleaning and How to Select a Drycleaner Drycleaning is required for much of the clothing that you wear. Drycleaning, and how to make the best of it, is a common thread running through the fabric of this book. Selecting a drycleaner can be an ongoing process as you search for the right fit. The chapter on selecting a drycleaner describes the scope of services available to you; helps you assess your needs; and provides you a basis by which to judge a drycleaner's performance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780971766907
Publisher: Boutique Books
Publication date: 09/01/2002
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

First Chapter

Shopping in the Retail World

Care Labels, Coping with Stores, Shopping by Appointment,

Interviews with Personal Shoppers

How many times have you walked into a store, been unable to get help from a salesperson, and roamed around aimlessly hoping for assistance? Of course, it depends on the type of store, but this experience is a familiar one for most of us. Once you've found a person to "help"you, he or she seems capable of finding a garment for you or locating a different size or color, but rarely openly shares important information, such as: fabric content, wearability, or care instructions. How many times have you asked, "Do you think it will shrink much?" all the while feeling almost silly about asking someone probably less informed than yourself?

Wouldn't it be helpful to know what will happen to the garment after washing or drycleaning? As a consumer, you need to gather the information yourself, know the questions to ask, and know where to find the answers. This is where I come in. In Chapter 2 you will learn about fabrics as they pertain to fabric content labels;but let's now examine what you can learn from care labels.

Reading Care Labels

From my experience, too many people still do not read care labels before they buy. Every garment that you purchase, by law, is supposed to have a sewn-in care label that supplies at least one safe method for cleaning. As a fabric-care specialist and sleuth, I've had the opportunity to experience care labels that are inaccurate, incomplete, and unsafe. You and your drycleaner should be able to trust the written instruction or international symbol on the label and assume that it provides a safe method for processing.

Most "basic" wool suits, blue jeans, and cotton dress shirts have dependable care labels. It is not necessary for you to read every label as you shop, but most certainly you should before you buy. For unique garments �such as designer clothing, most outerwear, ski outfits, blended fabrics, and specialty pieces- I would suggest that you do not purchase a single garment without first reading and understanding the care-label instructions.

Instructions That Should Concern You

Do Not Tumble Dry/Air Dry Only

Show this type of care label to your drycleaner at the counter or attach a note for the delivery driver who picks up your clothes to be cleaned. Drycleaners have trouble with this instruction for two reasons: First, due to their experience, technicians don't routinely read every care label;and second, because most dryclean-ing machines clean and dry in one cycle, it is difficult to air dry a garment as a separate step. A "Do Not Tumble Dry"label usually appears on imported cloth-ing, so be aware of this when you shop. Most clothing with this instruction will not be ruined if it is tumble dried, but some shrinkage may occur.

Warm-Iron Only

This label is an accurate warning for pressing acetate and other easily shined materials. It is also accurate for garments trimmed with beads, sequins, vinyl, snakeskin, and leather. This label also wrongly appears on many cotton dress shirts that clearly must be pressed with a very hot iron or on a laundry press in order to achieve a crisp finish. If you follow this label and use a warm iron on your dress shirts, they will look like you just slept in them!

Some poly-blended shirts do require a warm iron and have been melted or torn on a hot laundry press. You will have to police this yourself because 99%of the shirts sent to the drycleaners to be professionally laundered are completely compatible with a hot iron. If you do have a garment with a label that suggests a warm iron, be sure to bring this to the attention of your dry-cleaner so that he or she can make the proper care decision.

Do Not Dryclean, Do Not Wash, Spot-Clean Only

It's true. This type of label is very popular with formal dresses and garments adorned with beads, sequins, or fragile trims. Many of these garments, after proper testing by the technician and with your consent, can be drycleaned safely (usually in ydrocarbon;see Chapter 29).

Many of these garments can actually be spot-cleaned only (without drycleaning), which may be sufficient if the stains are water based. Before you buy a formal garment like this, read the care label.

The care label may be tucked into the deepest recesses of the garment or sewn into a side seam, so be patient as you search for it. If you do not understand the instructions, try asking the salesperson for help. If he or she does not understand the instructions, then ask if the owner or manager is available. You could also call your drycleaner for guidance. If you still don't know the answer, make your best choice and make sure that the garment can be returned for a refund if it cannot be cleaned satisfactorily.

Questions for Salespeople

Standard questions that apply to most clothing purchases will help you make the best of your investment. I would wager that you already have clothing in your closet that you don't wear because of the style or the color �why add improper fit, fragile elastic, or possible shrinkage to the list? Ask more questions.

When buying a suit or a sport jacket, ask about fusible construction. (Pg. 83)

Ask for extra buttons when you buy nice clothing because the buttons may not be avail- able later. (See Chapter 3 on "Button and Trims.")

When buying dress shirts, ask how muc shrinkage should be expected in the collar. You would be surprised at the amount of progressive shrinkage in de-signer and custom shirts. (See Chapter 17, "Men's Shirts.")

For expensive or unique clothing, ask for any care information the salesperson can share regarding washing or drycleaning. Ask the salesperson if he or she has heard any feedback from customers.

Specialty Stores, Boutiques, and Department Stores

I'm sure that you have noticed a higher level of customer service at specialty stores, boutiques, and special departments within a department store. The cloth-ing in these stores may be more expensive (though not always), but there is value in the service you receive. Good service saves time, provides better insight, reduces anxiety, and increases the value of your wardrobe investment.

Every time that you make an effort to build a relationship with the "right" salesperson, it pays off. You build continuity and familiarity, and you have someone on your side in a store that you like.

Shopping at smaller stores or at a certain department within a department store offers you the opportunity to build such a relationship. This type of shopping may be closer to your heart; you shop at fewer places and make better use of your time. You can start to do some shopping by phone, which saves you time and money. Make salespeople think about you and ask them to call when they receive new styles or when a garment that you ordered comes in.

Share your taste with them. Great power is in this approach.

Avoid Inconvenience

How much running around do you do? You drive to a store or mall and put miles on yourself and your car. Then you may find that the size or color you want is sold out and can't be ordered. Just finding a salesperson to verify this information can exhaust you.

In Summary

Make the most of your time and shop smart. Read care labels, ask questions, learn more about fabrics, shop in smaller circles, run around less. Consider shopping by appointment or using a personal shopper.

Shopping by Appointment

Don't tell me that you haven't agonized while shopping. Shopping is not always fun, is it? But it can be.

In specialty stores, boutiques, and department stores, you will find willing salespeople interested in the appointment concept. Instead of shopping piecemeal, with a suit here and a top there �think about wardrobes. (This concept works when you want to buy one special outfit as well.) As soon as you tell the manager or the appropriate salesperson what you want, then you will have their attention. What's in it for them? They have the opportunity to work with a single client for hours at a time, and you get their undivided attention and fashion sense.

Sales-people crave this type of client. Many department stores �including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman- promote this kind of arrangement.

Once you get past mainstream shopping (discount stores, discount department stores, and generic chain stores), the next level up offers many benefits. Men and women who can afford to make this small leap can experience shopping by ap-pointment. With a little planning, a firm commitment, and a couple of hours, you can enjoy a service that few are aware exists.

Is It Worth the Investment?

Ask yourself these questions: How do you feel about the person who does your hair? Do you tell him or her what you like, what you think looks good? Do you ever ask for this person's opinion? He or she cuts, styles, or colors your hair �what about a trainer or someone who does body work on you? Pilates, yoga, or massage may be close to your heart. How much time and money do you spend on these aspects of your life? Shouldn't you relate on the same level to someone who sells you your clothing? You put this clothing on your treasured and pampered body, the clothing that completes you.

After thinking about the benefits of "shopping by appointment," this arrangement may sound like a sweet deal to you. It doesn't preclude you from "shopping'til you drop" on your own whenever you wish, if that's what moves you, but there may be a place for this approac somewhere in your busy life.

The Next Step: Assessing Your Personal Needs

Sit down, relax, and take some quality time (maybe in the restaurant at the department store where you shop) to ask yourself some questions. I think you will find that some of your answers may surprise you. At a minimum, you will learn some valuable things about your preferences; at best, you may be shocked at the clarity and power of your realizations.

Assess your wardrobe needs. You've shopped your whole life, and you have some definite likes and dislikes.

Write down your favorite colors and fabrics. Write down your least favorite colors and fabrics. Think about what people have commented on and complimented you on.

Your body has probably found its natural weight by now �maybe not your ideal weight, but its natural weight (the one that you philosophically accept, even if your ego doesn't)� and you have a sense of what looks good on you. Or maybe you could use some fashion guidance, and that's all right, too. Write down what styles make you feel good.

Do you have the interest and the inner strength to spend two to three hours with one sales- person? Is the time you will invest with this person worth any more than the hours you spend looking through racks and racks of clothes to find the right style at the right price?

Have you had enough of the shopping rat-race, the traffic, the people, the time invested, the frustration of shopping numerous locations for hours on end and leaving with nothing or little of what you set out to find? Is it really worth all that?

After you have assessed your colors, fabrics, body type, personal preferences, and frustration level and written them down, contact a boutique or two and a few departments that excite you and that you can afford. Go visit the appropriate person and discuss your concepts. You will find that as soon as you express your interest � whether you need a wardrobe or a single outfit- the manager or owner will be very receptive.

Pampering comes on many levels.

A Word About Personal Shoppers

I have had the pleasure of knowing many hard-working personal shoppers �mostly women. They are energetic and focused and really do have your best interest at heart. Many of the previous questions will prepare you for a relationship with a personal shopper. If this more personal approach is a good fit for you, personal shoppers will be with you during your shop- ping appointments, prepare clothing choices, and help you make those sometimes difficult assessments about your tastes and preferences. They can do more than just help with your wardrobe: they can reduce your other responsibilities �such as gift shopping for birthdays and special occasions- and free up more quality time for you to shop in peace.

Table of Contents

Introduction xvi
Part 1: Shopping
Shopping in the Retail World
Reading Care Labels .......................................1
Questions for Salespeople ...................................3
Specialty Stores, Boutiques, and Department Stores ...............3
Shopping by Appointment ..................................4
The Next Step: Assessing Your Personal Needs ....................5
Perspective of Boutique Owners and Department Stores ...........6
Interviews With Owners and Personal Shoppers ........................6
My Take ................................................18
Part 2: Basics for Men and Women
2. Fabric Basics 19
Identifying Fabrics ........................................19
Blended Fabrics ..........................................20
Common Fabric Problems .................................21
Synthetic Fibers versus Natural Fibers ........................25
Fabrics at a Glance: Fabric Table ............................27
3. Buttons and Trims 31
Button Styles ............................................31
Button Breakage and Protection .............................34
Melting, Fading, and Resewing ..............................35
Let's Go Shopping: Buttons ................................36
Trims, Beads, and Sequins ..................................36
Designs: Painted, Raised, and Embossed ......................38
Let's Go Shopping: Trims ..................................38
At the Cleaners ..........................................39
4. Women's Accessories 41
Scarves: Silk �Fabric and Care ..............................41
Scarves: Other Fabrics .....................................42
Bows, Flowers, and Sashes .................................43
Specific Stains ...........................................43
At the Cleaners ..........................................44
5. Pleats, Textures, and Linings 45
Before Shopping .........................................45
Let's Go Shopping ........................................46
Textures ................................................47
Linings: Everything You Need to Know .......................48
6. Removable Accessories 53
Collars and Cuffs: Cleaning and Care .........................53
Two-Toned Clothing: (Color-Blocked)........................56
Belts: Construction, Cleaning, and Care .......................57
Underarm Shields ........................................59
Shoulder Pads ...........................................60
7. Silk and Satin 63
Silk ....................................................63
How Silk Is Damaged .....................................65
How to Avoid Damage ....................................69
Let's Go Shopping ........................................70
At the Cleaners ..........................................70
8. Stains and Their Treatment 71
Determine the Nature of the Stain ...........................71
You've Identified the Stain;Now Treat it ......................73
Survival Techniques ..........................................74
Stain Care "At a Glance" ......................................76
Part 3: Steaming and Pressing
9. The Finished Product 77
Steaming ...............................................77
Hand Ironing ............................................78
Machine Pressing ............................................79
In Summary ................................................80
10. Finishing Problems 81
Wrinkles ................................................81
Shine ..................................................82
Fusible Bubbles ..........................................83
Creases .................................................84
Hangers ................................................86
Part 4: Women's Clothing
11. Women's Clothing 89
Save Time, Money, and Frustration ...........................89
Before Shopping .........................................90
Let's Go Shopping ........................................93
At the Cleaners ..........................................96
12. Party Dresses 99
Ve vet ..................................................99
Chiffon ...............................................100
Organza ...............................................101
Taffeta ................................................102
Let's Go Shopping .......................................103
At the Cleaners .........................................103
Special Care for Couture Clothing ...........................104
13. Bridal Gowns 105
Selecting a Gown ........................................105
A New Wedding Gown ...................................106
Secondhand Gowns ......................................107
Last Details Before the Wedding ............................109
After the Wedding .......................................110
Stain Diagram for Gown, Veil, and Headpiece .................116
Wedding Gown Inspection Sheet ...........................117
14. The Christening Outfit 119
Mistakes with Older Outfits ...............................119
Cleaning, Care, and Preservation ............................121
Christening Day Family Diary ..............................123
Christening Outfit Diary ..................................124
Part 5: Men's Clothing
15. Men's Clothing 127
Before Shopping: Sports Jackets and Suit Jackets ...............127
Let's Go Shopping .......................................130
Jacket and Suit Fabrics ....................................131
Suit and Dress Slacks .....................................134
At the Cleaners .........................................134
Casual Clothing .........................................136
Travel Ideas ............................................140
16. Neckties 141
Basics .................................................141
Taking Off Your Tie at Night ..............................146
Stain Emergencies and Faux Pas ............................147
Let's Go Shopping .......................................148
At the Cleaners .........................................149
17. Men's Shirts 151
What a Well-Pressed Shirt Looks Like ........................151
Before You Buy .........................................151
More Basics Before Shopping ..............................153
Let's Go Shopping: Custom Made and Designer Shirts ..........155
Decisions about Cleaning .................................158
Button Philosophy .......................................161
At the Cleaners .........................................162
18. Shirt Machines 163
Shirt Presses ...........................................163
Collar and Cuff Wrinkles ..................................164
19. Shirt Loss or Damage 167
Holes, Tears, and Lost Shirts ...............................167
Resolving Damaged or Lost Shirts ..........................168
20. Tuxedos and Accessories 171
Before Shopping ........................................171
Renting a Tux ..........................................174
Let's Go Shopping .......................................174
The Cummerbund and Bow-Tie ............................175
At the Cleaners .........................................176
21. Tuxedo Shirts 177
Before Shopping ........................................177
Let's Go Shopping .......................................180
Before the Cleaners ......................................180
Important Incidentals ....................................181
At the Cleaners .........................................183
Part 6: Unisex Clothing
22. Sweaters 185
Before Shopping ........................................185
Fabric Choices ..........................................186
Beads, Trims, and Zippers .................................189
Let's Go Shopping .......................................191
Important Incidentals ....................................192
At the Cleaners .........................................192
23. Outerwear 193
Before Shopping ........................................193
Down-Filled Outerwear ...................................198
Stain Removal for Light-Colored Outerwear ....................199
Know Your Fabrics ......................................200
Linings ................................................201
Let's Go Shopping .......................................201
At the Cleaners .........................................206
24. Suede, Leather, and Fur 209
About Skins ............................................210
Finished or Pigmented Leathers ............................210
Dyed Leather ...........................................210
Suede .................................................211
Pigskin ................................................212
Sheepskin (Sheepsuede), and Shearling ........................212
Nubuck ...............................................213
Care and Stain Removal: For All Suede .......................213
What Yo u Can Do: Suede and Leather ........................214
Leather and Suede: Common Traits .........................215
Let's Go Shopping .......................................216
Repairs, Alterations, and Restyling ...........................217
At the Cleaners .........................................219
Fur Care and Storage .....................................221
At the Cleaners: Fur .....................................221
Part 7: Home and Storage
25. Ironing at Home 223
Your Turn to Iron .......................................223
Creases ................................................224
Ironing Fine Fabrics .....................................225
26. Good Habits �Long Life 227
It's Time to Put Away Your Clothing ........................227
What Not to Put Away ....................................229
Folding versus Hanging ...................................230
27. Reweaving: A True Savior 235
What You Need to Know .................................235
28. Seasonal Storage 239
What Insects Want .......................................240
What You Can Do to Combat Damage .......................241
Conditions in Your Home .................................241
Storing Clothing Outside Your Home ........................244
At the Cleaners .........................................247
Part 8: Drycleaning
29. Drycleaning 101 249
What Is Drycleaning and What does It Do Best?...............249
Characteristics of Drycleaning .............................250
Drycleaning Solvents .....................................251
What is Wet Cleaning?....................................253
Do-It-Yourself Washing ..................................254
30. Selecting a Drycleaner 257
The Whole Process ......................................257
In Conclusion ..........................................259
Story Time � ..........................................260
Nuts and Bolts of a Decision ..............................261
Services Offered ........................................264
How Does Your Drycleaner Rate? � Take the Test!.............265
Business Relations .......................................266
Claims for Damaged or Lost Clothing .......................266
Glossary 269
Appendixes � "The Ultimate Helpers"(Tear-out Sheets)
Wedding Gown Inspection Sheet ...........................275
Wedding Gown Stain Diagram for Gown, Veil, and Headpiece ....276
Christening Day Diary ....................................277
Christening Outfit Preservation Diary .......................278
Questions for a Key Person at the Cleaners: Suede and Leather ....279
Questions for Salespeople .................................281
The Next Step: Assessing Your Personal Needs ................281
Index 283
Resources 304
Your Online Resource 305

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