January 13th, 2021 / posted by paularath

Your favorite lingerie needs special care.                             Photos by Jerry Mayfield

After ten months of COVID-19 and the changes we have made to the way we are living, our closets probably look (or at least feel) quite different to us.

We are undoubtedly doing a lot more shopping in our closets now, and when we do seek something fresh and new, I hope we are seeking out local designers, as they need us now more than ever.

I am finding that I really love some of my clothes, even clothes I had sort of forgotten about for awhile. Are you rediscovering old “friends”?

If you truly value the things you wear, then treat them that way. Once a treasured garment makes it into your closet, there’s the necessity of maintaining it. You may have to invest a little more time into making good garments last, but isn’t it worth it for our faves?

Over the years I have interviewed experts on clothing care. Having adopted many of their tips, there has been a measurable improvement in the life of my clothing. Maybe some of these tips will help you maintain your clothes too.


Bras last much longer when they are hand washed, preferably in a gentle soap. (I love The Laundress Delicate Wash which I buy at fishcake in Kakaako.  It’s also wonderful for hand washing masks, as it makes the whole world smell better! I have friends who swear by Dr. Bronner’s lavender soap as well, which I think is sold at Whole Foods.) Attention please: a dryer is the very worst enemy of delicate undies, even when you put them in a lingerie bag. The heat will destroy the elastic.


The elastic rule – no dryers – extends to workout clothes as well. Those special fabrics that make exercise more comfortable to do, also contain a lot of high tech fibers and at least a little elastic. Preserve them through washing by hand or in the washing machine in cold water. If you have a place to hang them, that’s ideal. If that’s just not possible, tumble dry using the lowest temp.


T-shirt care depends on the fabric. I have some T-shirts that are more precious than others because they are hand-dyed in natural dyes; those I wash by hand. For most T-shirts, though, it’s fine to wash them in the machine in cold water and use a dryer on the permanent press cycle. Do not hang them on a hanger. Just fold them carefully and keep them in a drawer.

Some silks require dry-cleaning, others can be hand washed.


While silk used to be a high end fabric used only in evening wear, it is now found in everything from men’s shirts to women’s tropical dresses. And while in the past dry-cleaning was always recommended for silks, washable silks have changed the rules. The Silk Institute makes the following recommendations for care of silks:

  • Some dyes used on silks are susceptible to bleeding. Check by wetting a small, inconspicuous spot and blotting the damp area between paper towels, pressing hard. If color appears on the towel, the fabric is not colorfast and should be dry-cleaned.
  • Certain types of silk generally require dry-cleaning: chiffon, georgette, organza, taffeta, silk satin and charmeuse. Dry-cleaning also is advisable for dark solids or bright prints.
  • Among the silks that can be hand-washed: China silk, India silk, crepe de chine, shantung and doupioni. When washing silk items by hand, use a mild detergent in lukewarm water. (I use The Laundress Hand Wash for silks.) Do not wring or scrub. Rinse garments thoroughly and roll in a clean bath towel to absorb excess moisture. If the label says to machine wash, use a gentle wash cycle with lukewarm water and mild detergent. Do not tumble dry unless the care label says to, as the surface may be abraded or the fabric may shrink.

Wishing all your favorite garments a long and happy life!

Paula Rath



What are they saying?
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Linda Arthur
January 23rd, 2021 at 1:59 am

Hi Paula,

Remember me from my days as a professor at UH Manoa’s clothing program? I’d love to chat with you about and idea for an article about what’s happened to the mu’umu’u…

Linda Arthur Bradley

January 25th, 2021 at 8:26 pm

f course I remember you! Would love to connect. Do you have my email address?

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