Women’s Ivy: Taking Care of Your Clothes (So They Can Take Care of You)

To me, one of the greatest appeals of traditional style is its timelessness. The building blocks of an Ivy wardrobe have their roots in the early to mid-twentieth century, but still look just as good today. This is great news for your wardrobe–you can invest in a few classic pieces and wear them for life. To make sure your clothes last a lifetime, they must be stored properly for the season. Here are a few tips for taking care of your clothes… and how to fix the damage if the worst happens.

Make Sure Everything is Clean Before You Pack Your Clothes

Stains, even small ones, can attract carpet beetles or moths. Make sure everything is clean before you pack–it will save a lot of heartache in the future.

Use Lots of Tissue Paper

This protective layer will help prevent your clothing from wrinkling while stored. Use tissue paper for everything: wrapping your clothes, lining your storage bins, and stuffing your shoes. Make sure the tissue paper is acid-free (available from archival preservation sites or at places like Joann Fabrics).

Do Not Pack Your Clothes in Cardboard Boxes!

Avoiding cardboard boxes is a good rule of thumb for any sort of preservation. For storage, I love Rubbermaid Roughneck containers.* These prevent anything from getting in–from water to insects to sunlight. Not only are they sturdier than cardboard boxes, storage containers also stack well and their contents can be accessed without cutting through layers of tape.

Due to careful handling, this Brooks Brothers chesterfield from the author’s mother is still in excellent shape and is worn every winter.

Store Sachets With Your Clothes

Lavender and cedar help prevent insects from damaging clothes. You can find a number of sachets available; I love the ones from D. Porthault (a nice hostess gift!) and Mrs. Meyers.*

When the Worst Happens: How to Fix It

Moth Holes

If a moth infestation wreaks havoc on your favorite sweaters, all is not lost! Sweaters and other wool clothing can be repaired by a skilled reweaver. If you are in the New York metro area, I highly recommend French-American Reweaving. They have done beautiful work on some of our most sentimental pieces; you can’t even see the repairs. Their contact information is here. A note: the process is expensive but well worth it for special pieces. The proprietor is truly gifted and–a rarity in the modern age–honest.

Musty Smells

There are many articles that suggest adding vinegar to your washing machine cycle will fix musty smells, but white vinegar can actually damage your washing machine. Try sprinkling your dry clothes with baking soda instead, leaving it overnight to absorb any odors. If this doesn’t work, wash your clothes normally, then air-dry outside. 

Stubborn Wrinkles

I am not a fan of ironing and far prefer steaming clothes (this* is the steamer I use and it’s great–I have one at home and one for my office). I find steaming, in conjunction with Downy Wrinkle Release spray,* gets rid of even the most stubborn wrinkles.

A friend recently recommended Nori,* a new steam iron, and I am intrigued. It looks too good to be true, but she insists it lives up to the hype! I’m eager to try it, and will report back.

How do you take care of your clothes? Do you have any tips I’ve missed? If so, please share in the comments below.

Feel free to drop me a line at sarahcooney@ivy-stylemediagroup.com. You can find me on Instagram @fewerandbetterblog or on my blog.

Sarah Cooney

10 Comments on "Women’s Ivy: Taking Care of Your Clothes (So They Can Take Care of You)"

  1. Hardbopper | April 19, 2023 at 4:09 pm |

    A lot of good, usable information here. Thanks! I must start to use tissue when transporting neckties in a suitcase. I’ll stop by at Joann Fabrics.

  2. While not intended as a slight to your spot on advice on clothing care, my frivolous and sardonically juvenile mind takes me to considering how your guide is easily applicable to handling boyfriends and offspring.

  3. Thank you for the steamer recommendation, Sarah! I’ve added it to my Amazon list.

    Kind Regards,


  4. Tips? When traveling, hang your suit/sport coat on a good hanger and use a garment bag. Believe it or not, I still use the free plastic cover with the retailer’s name on it for a navy blazer purchased some 20 years ago. I use that when driving.

    I also have a torso-only mannequin? that sits on a table, which I use for brushing or hanging suit/sport coats. It doesn’t leave hanger marks in the shoulders. It would be perfect for a nice armoire.

  5. Expat Yank | April 20, 2023 at 6:20 pm |


  6. Last fall, I discovered that some moth or other clothing eater made a snack out of the right shoulder of my beloved vintage Brooks Brothers herringbone tweed sport coat. The damage was small but noticeable. My tailor repaired it to near-invisibility with a combination of felting and reweaving. But it’s a reminder to get some proper garment bags and some real pieces of cedar in my closet. One thing that I’ve used since that discovery is Cedarcide spray. It’s a dilution of pure cedar oil. The Cedarcide people (https://cedarcide.com) claim it’s nontoxic to people and pets but that it kills or repels a host of insects that enjoy biting clothes or biting people. I spray it in the corners and along the baseboards of my closet, and sometimes might spray a sweater with it directly. It smells very strongly of cedar and hopefully makes a difference.
    Great advice here Sarah. I am loath to dry clean anything any more than necessary, but once a year is quite reasonable. And if it helps remove the kinds of things pests are drawn to, it’s well worth the trouble.
    I just put away the winter sweaters, even in this extra cold and damp PNW spring. Hopefully my bins are sufficient to keep the wool eaters away.

    • That is always the worst moment! I’m glad your local tailor could fix. Good garment bags are essential (and considering I included a photo of a garment bag in this post, I should have added that!)

  7. GREAT!!! idea with the steamer. Since we live in FL now my wife wears a lot of linen. I just bought the steamer for her . I tried to sell it a a Mother’s Day present, but didn’t get too far. Her comment was “nice try.”She has gone from high maintenance to turbo maintenance on me. She has more Belgium and All Birds shoes than I think they have in their stores. I know “you’re kind of lady”

Comments are closed.