The nice thing about vintage clothing is that it rarely goes out of style—and even if it does, it comes back around again. This is why it’s worth storing correctly.
You might think that storing vintage clothing is similar to storing your modern wardrobe, but if you store your retro pieces the same way you store everyday jeans and t-shirts, you might not be happy with the results. Depending on the era, vintage clothing is made of different textiles than current styles and is often handcrafted, delicate and more one-of-a-kind than items manufactured in mass quantities at factories.
Because it’s unfortunately impossible to hop in a time machine and go back to the decade when your favorite pieces of vintage clothing were actually on sale in stores, here is a quick lesson in how to store them so that they’re around for years to come.
It might seem silly to rent a storage unit for your vintage clothing when you’ve got a perfectly good closet at home, but doing so might be the best investment you can make in the future of those rare and collectible pieces. Storing your vintage clothing in a closet, attic, basement or garage can cause them to come into contact with other fabrics, materials and contaminants that will damage them. It’s also difficult to control temperature, humidity and light exposure in home storage settings. Vintage clothing is susceptible to mold and fading and needs to be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. A climate controlled storage unit is perfect for this.
The choice is yours whether you want to clean your vintage clothing at home or have it professionally done, but either way, be sure that all items are freshly cleaned (and completely dry) before storing them. Even a tiny drop of wine on a vintage wedding dress can eat away at delicate lace over time.
After cleaning your vintage clothing, store each piece separately in an archival box with acid-free tissue paper. Each piece must be stored flat. Never store vintage clothing on hangers, as this can cause permanent damage.
For special articles of vintage clothing, you may consider utilizing a preservationist to safely treat stains and complete mending in a way that maintains the integrity of the item.
Once you’ve chosen the right size storage unit and prepared your vintage clothing for storage, you’re ready to head to your climate controlled storage unit and drop off those boxes. Never place the boxes containing your vintage clothing directly on the floor of your storage unit, and avoid stacking too many boxes on top of one another. Vintage clothing needs to breathe, and following these two steps will allow it to do so.
Things to Look For in a Storage Facility
In addition to the previously mentioned climate control feature, the number one thing you want in a storage facility is excellent pest control. Ask your potential storage facilities about what they do for pest control before signing a lease and never store at a facility where you notice rodent droppings, excessive trash, bugs or other signs of pests.
If your vintage clothing is expensive, you’ll also want a storage facility with good security features including high walls, surveillance cameras and gated access. You may be required to get self storage insurance by the facility, but even if you aren’t, you might want to consider purchasing it.
Most importantly, trust your gut. Store at a facility that you feel comfortable leaving your vintage clothing at. If you trust your instincts—and follow the advice above—your retro dresses, shirts, pants and jackets will be in style forever.