18 March 2021

Caring for your Vintage Part 1 - Vintage Leather

Tips and Tricks on Caring for your Vintage Gems

Caring for vintage clothing is an art form. I'm going to share with you a few important tips to help you keep your vintage looking like new!

Leather care

Caring for Leather

There’s nothing more satisfying than finding great leather pieces in the wild. But, like any natural material, leather’s ageing process means that it inevitably dries out and can become brittle.

There’s a great story behind one of the gems I picked up in the wild, and lots of care went into restoring her to her full glory. 

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Leather gets dry with age if not regularly moisturised. It needs a regular cleaning, perhaps three times a season if you're wearing it a lot, which involves using a good leather moisturiser or conditioner, a soft chamois and some elbow grease, and a solid air in the sun. I spray the lining with a diluted mixture of eucalyptus oil to freshen it up, not so much that it saturates, but just a light spritz is generally enough. Then comes the outside air, sometimes turned inside out, and once you bring it back inside, a gentle polish with leather conditioner or a restorative colour polish. I try to stick to neutral restorative polishes, as these tend to keep the integrity of the original colour and don't create streaks.

If you have the cash, and you have something really special, I recommend getting a professional restoration dry clean. Not all dry cleaners offer this service as it's quite specialised, but those that do offer a full steam clean on the lining and a proper oiling on the leather, which brings out the shine and the colour.

Never put your leather away damp. Always let it dry naturally in the air before storing as this will prevent mildew. leather coats and clothing are best stored on hangers with a bit of padding so they aren't put under a lot of pressure around the shoulder seams. These are often the first to wear, and the seams around the armholes where they get a lot of movement.

Don't buy your leather coat too fitted as with furs, because if they are tight and movement is difficult, the seams will tear. unfortunately it's usually the leather near the seam, not the seam itself, that splits, and that's an expensive repair by a professional! Best to buy a size up to allow for winter weight garments to be worn below. This is not the case for vests, pants and shorts. They do need to fit nicely, but you also need to be able to move in them!

If you want to oil your leather coat, refined rapeseed oil is excellent, but needs to be applied via a lint free cloth rather than poured on. Never pour any liquid onto your leather items, as it can result in an uneven colour. Leather remember, is quite porous and absorbs lots of oils, so they need to be applied evenly. None of this can be done with suede.

Suede needs a small brush and dry treatment. Never put any chemical on suede, but dirt and stains often lift a little with some gentle and persistent brushing. Suede is also very prone to colour fade, so don't store it in a hot or light place. it's also quite sensitive to humidity and moisture, and will develop mildew if left damp or stored in a damp cupboard. If your house is damp, I recommend getting some Damp Rid for your wardrobes and changing it a few times through the year, especially over the winter months. Don't store your leather, or any other garment, in Dry Cleaner's plastic. It isn't good for the clothes. Fabric and skins need to breathe, and the plastic film is only designed to protect the clothing from the Dry Cleaner's premises to your home. It increases humidity and stops airflow.hree times
Different leathers need different treatments, and treating bags and shoes is different to coats. If in doubt, check with a specialist, especially if the item is valuable.

Size Guide