Services such as eBay and Craig's List have helped the market for used evening gowns really grow in the last few years. If you are going to resell your gown you want to keep it in good condition in order to get the best price. This combined with the huge expense of purchasing a new ball gown has made caring for your precious purchase all the more important.
Here are some valuable tips for caring for your dress. Storing Your Ball Gown There are two recommended ways of storing your ball gown. One is to fold it carefully in tissue paper and store it in a box with a few cedar balls and/or a few fabric softener sheets. OR you can fold it over a hanger at the waist (back side over the hanger) and place it inside a garment bag. Remember, this is a long, heavy dress.
Hanging it up by the shoulders or straps may cause stretching of the straps or the fabric in the shoulders. You can also hang it by the straps and ribbons and then drape the rest of the dress over another hanger-at about the knees. This will also prevent stretching. Personally, I take no chances.
I fold my all dresses. Coming Out of Storage You'll need to bring the dress out of storage several days before your event. There are several methods for removing wrinkles and restoring freshness. One is to hang the dress in the bathroom while a hot shower steams the wrinkles from the dress. I prefer this method to using hand steamers. Hand steamers require a little bit of salt in the water to make them work properly.
Salt is very corrosive and can damage the fabric over time. I just don't risk it. Another way to remove wrinkles is to liberally mist the dress with a mixture of water that contains a splash of fabric softener.
Then hang the dress up somewhere out of the way. Allow the water and the weight of the dress to slowly remove the wrinkles. Some dresses just have to be ironed-silk, satin, etc. Ironing with steam is acceptable if you don't use any salt. But be very careful---some fabrics will change color slightly when ironed with steam--especially those that are of a lighter shade. So test a small portion first.
This is typically not a problem for black dresses. For extra protection you can place a piece of unprinted grocery sack between the dress and the iron. After the Party The day after the party use a warm washcloth to remove and deodorant stains under the arms. You really want to do this as soon as possible as some deodorants can lighten or discolor fabric over time. Let your dress air out for a day or two before you store it.
This is also a good time to mist it gently with the water/fabric softener mixture. Dry-cleaning I don't dry-clean my dresses every time that I wear them. Dry-cleaning chemicals are very harsh and can shorten the lifespan of very delicate fabrics.
If you take care of your dress as described above it should not need to be dry-cleaned that often. Remember, you are only wearing it for one night once per year. Unless you are standing near smokers, spill something on it, or are dancing to the point of heavy perspiration the dress shouldn't be that dirty.
I try to dry-clean white dresses only a few times during their lifetime as dry-cleaning fluid will yellow as it ages.
Mischelle Weedman-Davis is a freelance writer and an authentic southern belle from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who now lives with her husband and son in Seattle, WA. Her husband is respected attorney Christopher M. Davis. Recently she left her 15-year high-tech career and closed her baby food catering business to use her talents to support her husband's law firm, the Davis Law Group. Learn more at: http://www.InjuryTrialLawyer.com.