Formalwear Tips: How To Store A Wedding Or Prom Dress

Preserving your wedding or prom gown is important if you want to enjoy and share your dress for years to come.

With all of the careful planning that goes into selecting the perfect wedding or prom gown and the special memories that go along with it, many women choose to preserve their dress as a keepsake or with the intention of passing it down to another family member. Using a little tender loving care and proper storage techniques will ensure that the gown remains beautiful for years to come.

For better or worse, storing a clean gown is the first step. Within a few weeks of the nuptials or prom, it's important to have your gown cleaned. The longer stains and soil are left on the dress, the harder it will be to remove them. Make certain you read and follow the directions on the care label as to either wash it or dry clean it. Be careful of trims like sequins and some beads because some cannot be dry cleaned.

If you aren't certain of what services might be best for cleaning, take the gown to a dry cleaner or a preservation specialist or expert who has been trained in cleaning and preparing gowns for storage. They can identify all the stains and spills, even those you can't see. If you don't know any one or can't find one in the telephone book, you might ask a friend or relative for a referral.

Storing a gown is a lifetime commitment, so make sure you get it right the first time. Do not store your gown in a plastic bag. Plastic can break down over time and release chemicals and fumes that can discolor and destroy the fabric. If you are boxing your gown for storage, be sure to wrap fabrics in acid-free white tissue paper. Bodices or curved areas of a garment should be stuffed with tissue to prevent creasing. If you use an acid-free cardboard box, you'll need to change the box every three to five years. Cardboard is absorbent, and even acid-free boxes can re-acidify over time. Some companies even sell units, appropriately called wedding dress boxes, which are made specifically for storing these precious gowns.

It's also important to store your gown in a cool, dry place. A damp basement or a hot, musty attic can cause mildew and yellowing of fabric, so you probably want to avoid those areas for storage. You also might want to keep your gown packed away from sunlight and any artificial light. Most light sources can cause degradation and fading. The back of a roomy closet in a spare room or rarely-used closet will make a great home for your gown.

You've made a vow to honor and cherish a loved one, so why not care for your gown as well. If you are hanging your dress, wrap it in a white sheet, and hang with the inside loops that are connected to sturdy side seams. Never hang it by the fragile shoulder seams that can cause it to either stretch or sag.

Once you have stored your gown properly, you should check it periodically for damage. Stains that weren't initially apparent can appear at a later date and should be treated immediately. Preserving your gown is important if you want to enjoy and share it for years to come.

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