With the witching hour nearly upon us, you’ll be thinking about great costume ideas to impress friends and acquaintances. Whether you’re going all out in a spectacular costume or keeping things simple as a ghost or a cat, the special care required to keep Halloween costumes clean can easily be overlooked.
Costumes are often made of inexpensive materials, like acetate or acrylic, and feature basic structure and stitching that are designed for one-time wear. So what happens when you find a great costume that deserves some extra mileage in future years? Carefully cleaning and storing your costume will ensure it can be re-used for the next spooky party.
Our guide will help you properly care for your Halloween costume so that it continues to trick without getting ruined by any treat-induced stains.
Pre (trick or) treat
While you’re enjoying some candy, a melting chocolate bar or dripping caramel from a candy apple may make its way onto your costume. To take care of any Halloween food stains, pre-treat with a stain remover formula and let it soak for about 30 minutes. Costume fabrics usually aren’t particularly breathable, so you’ll also want to pre-treat areas where perspiration stains have occurred (such as under the arms and around the neck).
Check your costume’s label for recommended washing instructions. If your costume is made out of cotton, polyester, acrylic or nylon, and doesn’t have special embellishments, it can likely be machine washed in cold water on the delicate cycle.
Costumes made of tulle or spandex can be gently hand-washed at home, even if they have sequins or plastic attachments. However, careful consideration must be taken when you’re cleaning these items yourself.
- Flip the costume inside out before placing it in cold water with a gentle laundry detergent.
- Knead the material in the water for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
- Gently squeeze the costume to remove excess water, but take care not to wring it, which can weaken the stitching.
Costumes labeled as “dry clean only”—especially with special embellishments or trims made of fur, leather, suede or feathers—should be taken to a professional, who will be equipped to provide a thorough cleaning.
Dry and iron
Avoid the dryer, which can shrink a costume made of inexpensive fabrics (like acetate and polyester) by up to two sizes or ruin the material altogether. The dryer can also loosen the elasticity in spandex or nylon. Most costumes should be hung to dry, but ones with a distinct structure should be laid flat to dry in order to preserve their shapes.
If you need to remove any wrinkles, iron on the lowest heat setting. High heat can damage fabrics like acrylic, rayon and polyester. Always keep the iron moving so that you avoid overheating and ruining the fabric
Next season storage
To ensure that your favorite Halloween costume looks just as good next year, be extra diligent about storing it properly.
- Delicate costumes with attachments or different parts should be hung so the material doesn’t stretch. Place them in a plastic garment bag and store in the closet until next year.
- If your costume is made of a durable material, fold it carefully and store it in a sealed freezer bag to keep dust and mold out.
- Costume accessories like broomsticks or wands should be wrapped in bubble wrap and kept safely in a box.
- Stuff hats with paper to maintain their shape.
- Place wigs on a styrofoam wig stand and keep them tucked in a sealed bag or box.
Halloween costumes aren’t meant to be worn all the time, but you might want to keep your favorite outfit on hand for future parties. By taking special care of your costume, you’ll make sure it gets a chance to scare again.
Photos: Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock.com, jp26jp, Tarzhanova / Shutterstock.com
Warmer weather means that wedding season is officially in full swing. While you want to look your best as a wedding guest—or as a member of the bridal party—purchasing a new suit or dress for every occasion this summer may not be practical. Regardless, no matter how many outfits you have to choose from, you want to keep them in the best shape possible. From wedding guest style tips to clothing maintenance, here’s a fuss-free guide to taking care of your best pieces so they last beyond the cake and champagne toast.
Invest in a timeless dress or classic suit
As tempting as it is to purchase a unique dress or suit for each event you attend, it makes sense to invest in timeless pieces that you'll use for other purposes. When choosing your wedding season attire, opt for a classic silhouette that will serve you well on date nights or other dressier events.
Style tip: For ladies, a classic choice like an LBD (little black dress) is always a great option to have in the closet, but the wedding season can be a reason to explore new styles, trends and colors that you may not wear as often. For the gents, most suits can be repurposed for all occasions—business or pleasure. Dress up each with unique accessories depending on the event.
Choose the right fabrics for a touch of personal style
Occasion dressing doesn’t have to strictly translate to formal wear (unless the invitation reads black tie). For a modern approach to cocktail attire, introduce a casual element to the ensemble through unconventional fabrics or accessories. Try mixing dressier silhouettes with more laid-back fabrics for cocktail-appropriate wear with a hint of cool. Choose fabrics that are durable, wrinkle-free and easy to clean. That way, you'll remain unfettered from the ceremony to the after-party.
Style tip: Consider an easy-care fabric such as acetate, jersey or rayon blends instead of pure silk for effortless style that will keep you feeling both polished and comfortable. These fabrics have the added bonus of being easier to clean, for either you or your dry cleaner.
Treat stains in a timely manner
Ernest Hemingway once wrote that Paris is a moveable feast. Weddings often translate to another kind of moveable feast, so the tricky part about formal dressing is tackling the various accidents that can occur during your fine dining adventures. Whether it’s an unwanted souvenir from the reserve wine or that niçoise salad, make sure you treat any stains as soon as you get home, as they become harder to manage once they settle into the fabric. Weddings are messy business, so don’t let those stains sink in!
Style tip: If you're concerned about letting something slip, it doesn't hurt to stick to white wines or champagne. (Even though these spills are less noticable, they do still need to be treated! Apply a damp towel to absorb what you can of the stain, and then have it treated professionally when you get home.)
Employ a dry cleaning service to keep your garments pristine
Even if you've managed to leave the reception stain-free, the best way to care for your choicest pieces are to entrust them to a professional cleaner before putting your clothes back in your closet. This takes care of any potential odors or wrinkles; it also ensures that your suits and dresses are in perfect condition for your next celebrated affair.
Style tip: For best results, store your clothing in a garment bag post-cleaning. Your timeless pieces will always be good to go with these simple steps. Stay stylish throughout the season (and be ready for the next) with these tips for wedding guests.
Photos: Josh Felise, Michal Kulesza, Milada Vigerova, Jay Wennington, Kekyalyaynen / Shutterstock.com
While there may not be a one-size-fits-all rule for occasion dressing, destination weddings call for some additional considerations. Here's your guide for selecting and caring for your next destination wedding attire.
What to Wear: The garden wedding
Think fairy lights and champagne over freshly cut grass—there's nothing quite like a garden wedding during the warmer months.
Keep it romantic yet practical. Pair floaty dresses with flat sandals or wedges; try a dress with texture so you won't be fussed about keeping it wrinkle-free. If floral motifs are too literal for you, opt for neutral lightweight fabrics with interesting details such as a lace overlay or an embroidered collar (but be careful not to encroach on the bride's exclusive color palette). The discerning gentleman looks for a slim-cut suit with well-ironed details. Pants should be slightly tapered but still comfortable; same goes for the suit jacket.
What to Wear: The beach wedding
Whether you're in Bali or St. Bart's for the summer, a beach wedding makes for a memorable trip. Pull together a look that's both laid-back yet polished for a great seaside ensemble.
If you've been eyeing that bohemian dress for months, here's the time to scoop it up. Play with longer hemlines and go for midi or maxi lengths; they're ultra chic and highly beach appropriate. Don't be afraid to try something new—beach weddings are easy (and fun) to dress up for. For the men, lighter options such as cotton, linen or seersucker are your go-tos for the ceremony.
What to Wear: The city wedding
Your best friend just booked her dream wedding at the Met—attending a reception against a backdrop of Rembrandt paintings requires flawless attire that's on par with the artwork.
The art of mastering black tie dressing is simplicity: less is more. When in doubt, opt for black or muted tones. Look for a gown or suit with a simple silhouette: off-the-shoulder or side drapings are particularly striking for this occasion. If your hemline is too long, take it to a tailor for a custom fit, or invest in some heels. And ladies—it's time to bring out the heirloom jewelry (only a few carefully chosen pieces, of course). Dressier options such as a tux or three piece suit are classic choices for gentlemen.
How to Keep Your Outfit Wedding-Ready
Traveling with formal wear can be challenging, but following these storage tips can help reduce the chance of wrinkles or stains on your carefully selected new outfit.
- Keep dresses pristine by rolling them up and tucking them away in a garment bag
- Purchase a packing envelope for suits
- Pack heavier items on the bottom of your suitcase to help avoid wrinkling
- Roll ties around your finger (starting with the narrow end) and slip them into a sock before packing
- Use hard case luggage if possible to avoid damage from outside pressure
- Keep finer fabrics such as silk and chiffon in a separate compartment—and away from liquids—during travel
- Pack all liquids in separate plastic bags to contain any possible spills
- Pack rolled clothes tightly so they don't unravel
- Hang your clothes immediately upon arrival
- Place your clothes on the back of the bathroom door and run a hot shower for a quick steam clean
- Consider purchasing a portable steam cleaner
- Look into the services available at your hotel, such as suit pressing
- Travel with extra plastic bags to separate dirty and clean clothes (consider an odor eliminating laundry travel bag)
- Visit your try cleaner to help your clothes recover from their long journey
Destination weddings are exciting, but they're also a big investment; from the plane ticket, to the hotel, to the outfit. But by packing and caring for your clothes correctly, you can make sure that at least one of those investments outlasts the journey.
Made a mess out of your cocktail dress? Head over to our cheat sheet for stain treatments on-the-go for an instant remedy.
Photos: Nick Karvounis, Haystaak Sweet Ice Cream Photography, Scott Webb