Heir Apparel
5/1/2006
Grandma's wedding gown could be deteriorating as you read this. But if you take these five simple steps now, you can preserve it for your granddaughter's special day.
Wedding dresses, christening gowns and military uniforms are some of our most cherished family heirlooms. So why do we send them to garment purgatory (that is, the attic or basement), where they're subjected to bugs, rodents, mold and dirt? Preserve your antique attire for future generations by following these five easy steps for keeping clothing in good shape.

1. Select a safe storage space.

Chances are you store your treasured textiles in a basement, garage or attic — but those are the worst places to keep them. In such environments, relative humidity is off the charts, leaving your clothes either moldy and mildewy (if the air is moist) or brittle and crumbly (if it's too dry). Or the humidity fluctuates, causing material to shrink and swell, and the fibers to separate. Temperatures are hard to control in attics and garages, and textile fibers break down in a hot environment. Light — especially sunlight and fluorescent light — is another danger to your heirlooms: It's a major culprit in faded color and weakened fibers.