How to Shop for Decoratively Trimmed Garments
It's easy to be dazzled by the splash of red sequins or the spray of glittering "cracked ice" across the black velvet of a glamorous gown. When planning a purchase of an item that has decorative trims, however, you must let your head rule your heart more than ever.
Before you even lift that gorgeous gown off the rack to carry it to the dressing room, read the label. No, not the one with the size... the one with the care directions. The words you are looking for are, "Dry Clean Only, exclusive of trim." If you see them, run (don't walk) away from that dress! What the label doesn't spell out is that in order for you to properly clean the garment, the trim must all be removed, or it will probably be damaged or even destroyed. Think of the heartbreak of buying that special gown, wearing it once, and having it come out of the drycleaning machine totally denuded of its sequins. It's happened.
This is called "garment failure". Even if the sequins or other trim are solvent-safe (can be treated by drycleaning), if they are glued on or even attached with threads that are not color-fast, there can still be trouble.
When shopping for a formal gown or other decoratively trimmed item:
- Read the care label and make sure it sounds reasonable for the amount of effort you want to invest in the item.
- Seek out quality manufacturers with a track record of good garment construction.
- Ask the retailer if he or she has had any returns of similar garments due to problem encountered in cleaning.
- Go ahead, get the one that matches your eyes! It's going to look gorgeous on you!
Our part in your purchase:
When we receive a garment from you that we have the least concern about, we do a thorough evaluation. First, we read the care label, every time. If it is in any way confusing or ambiguous, we may call the International Fabricare Institute (IFI) to see if they have past complaints about a similar item by the same manufacturer. Then we find a hidden seam on the garment and test it for color-fastness. We find a hidden area of trim and see if the sequin, fancy button or glitter in any way softens or bleeds when exposed to the solvent or spotting agents that will be necessary to clean the garment.
If there is a doubt about the cleanability of the garment, we will tell you. Then we can discuss together the best way to proceed.
Trims that can sometimes cause problems:
- Surface designs that are painted on garments.
- Dyed buttons
- Sequins that are glued on
- Glitter (cracked ice) or other glued on trims
- Dyed suedes and leathers (often the color bleeds)
- Fur trim
- Vinyl or plastic trim or piping
Why do garments get sold that aren't serviceable?
That's one of the touchy questions of the garment industry. As long as consumers buy garments that are not capable of being cleaned by any normal methods and not holding the manufacturer responsible, the practice will continue. Under the Federal Trade Commission's Care Labeling Rules, any garment sold in the US must have a permanently affixed label stating at least one acceptable method of cleaning the garment. Any label that says the garment can be cleaned with the exception of the trim is not in compliance with this rule, and should be left on the rack where it will do the least harm.