The holidays are nearly upon us, and that means that all of those sequins and sparkles usually relegated to the back of the closet are about to make a reappearance. We gave Jerry Pozniak, managing director of Jeeves New York (a dry cleaner trusted by both celebrities and big-ticket customers like Victoria’s Secret) a call for some tips on how to care for holiday finery, and what to do after someone spills a glass of red wine one all over your silver beaded cocktail dress.
1. Check the label. In the market for something new and shiny for an NYE party? Take Pozniak’s advice: “Read the care labels as you shop.” Although it’s not always best to follow the instructions, “this will give you some idea of how finicky and delicate the garment actually is and how much trouble you’ll have to go though if something happens to it.”
2. Only clean if necessary. “Unless something truly disastrous has happened, try not to clean beaded or sequined pieces at all,” says Pozniak. Remember, in general these are special pieces that are only worn for a few hours, so they don’t require routine cleaning or laundering the way an article you wear all day might—great news considering heavily embellished pieces are often more expensive to have cleaned!
3. Spot check. In the case of a minor spill, your best bet is to clean it quickly then and there. “Blot carefully with a dry or damp cloth – never rub,” advises Pozniak. Delicate pieces need to be treated gently and even rubbing to soak up a spill can be too rough on them.
4. Don’t believe everything you read. If you’ve acquired a stain (or an odor) that does need a little tough love, it’s still best spot treat it by hand-washing with a gentle detergent (look for one made specifically for lingerie) no matter what the care label says. Less expensive garments may say you can use a washing machine, but Pozniak cautions against this: “Even if the fabrics and materials can stand up to the water, you will lose some beads or sequins due to the agitation of the washing machine.”
5. Tie up loose ends. If you do notice missing beads or loose threads, take care of them right away, and no matter how tempting, don’t pull. “Sequins are often attached with a chain stitch,” says Pozniak. “If one comes loose, before you know it you’ve lost a whole row.” If you’re handy with a needle and thread, you may be able to fix this yourself, or take it to a trusted dry cleaner (see #6) and point out the problem.
6. Trust your dry cleaner. Sometimes there’s no way around it and a dress will have to go to the cleaners. Make sure to pick one you trust and feel comfortable talking to. “Ask your cleaner to test a small, unnoticeable area before they clean the whole garment, even if the tag says to dry clean,” Pozniak suggests. “Certain chemicals can alter the color or finish of some sequins” (and in the case of vintage or antique pieces, the sequins can sometimes dissolve completely). A quality, experienced dry cleaner should be able to tell you what’s possible to get your piece clean without destroying it.