Dawn O’Porter On How To Store Your Vintage Clothes

Wire coat hangers are the work of the devil

Dawn O'Porter On How To Store Your Vintage Clothes

by Sophie Wilkinson |

Dawn O’Porter, the TV presenter and boutique shop owner who’s got a bit of a penchant for zuzhing up vintage items with a modern twist, has got a new capsule range called The Equality Collection. Featuring colourful prints on classic vintage cuts, it’s a nod to past revolutions for sexual equality and liberation that, she insists, must whirr on. So we thought who better to tell us how to store our vintage clothes?


Hi Dawn! We now tend to be living in increasingly small places. How important is it to get super organised with storing clothes?

I’m going to give a load of advice here, but I’m such a hypocrite, because I’m a massive hoarder. My wardrobe is just a mess because I buy loads of cheap vintage clothes and sell them six months later. But tidiness is one thing, and making sure everything’s in the right condition is another. So I have an absolute ban on wire hangers. You need quilted or velvet hangers - or plastic, any that are thick and round and smooth - and it’s worth investing in them. Otherwise they will just ruin clothes, especially vintage clothing which is old and made of soft fabrics. And your clothes need air, especially if you don’t wear them that often.

Yeah, what is that smell that wafts around in vintage shops?

You get the same smell in an old book, it’s just old and used. One of my favourite pieces of vintage clothing is from a flea market and it had so clearly belonged to an old lady whose cat had slept and pissed on it for years. But it was this amazing piece of fabric and I loved it, so I pincered it between two fingers, dropped it in a bag, dry cleaned it twice, washed it loads and it’s absolutely amazing and I wear it all the time and it would have been a tragedy if it had never seen the light of day. You have to care for these things. But if it does have that smoggy musty smell, it’s a good idea to air and clean things when you get them. Hang lavender in your cupboard - it smells good and keeps the moths away. And remember to check if there are any signs of holes before buying something.

And what would you say to someone who said this is needless drudgery women have to do?

I guess that’s fair enough, but suggesting that you store your clothes properly so that they don’t get mouldy or moth eaten or fall apart is just for yourself, it’s not saying go and have your labia waxed!

Are there any particular eras of clothing that are harder to look after?

Everyone says the 60’s polyester is disgusting but so much of what’s on the high street is polyester so I don’t know why they’re complaining. But they’re so easy to store and wash; we can’t all have all silks, that’s why I think it’s important to have mixes of fabrics in your wardrobe. That said, 1920s clothing is so delicate because there was no such thing as man made fibres, so it was the purest wools, the purest silks also if you’re going to invest in an item like that you have to commit to looking after it properly, it’s sacrilegious not to. A piece of vintage clothing is a piece of history, you have to be responsible and take care of it.

When did our attitude to clothing change so drastically?

I guess it changed in the early 60s. It wasn’t just polyester, but the pill came into use and the Youth Quake started. Women and young girls didn’t want to be their mothers and expressed themselves through sex and drugs and music and art. Fashion took a massive turn. It was available, but it wasn’t taken for granted…but now? I get so sad about the high street, any town any street anywhere in England and it looks exactly the same and for someone with an independent clothing company it’s a constant battle against the bigger brands, I do these pop up shops because to have an actual shop in a great location, brands like me just can’t afford it, it totally breaks my heart.

There is an element of change, though, just as people care about food standards and where their meat comes from, they’re starting to understand that we have to be more ethical about clothes because the high street is stamping out individuality completely and it’s also stamping out small business.

Is online shopping getting in the way of people realising how depressing and crap the high street can be?

When it comes to online, buyers are more cautious, they don’t want to have to send it back, they really want to get something that’s right. I think online shopping is brilliant and also you have so much more choice. You can find all these fun and exciting things that not everyone else has!

What inspired you to do the Equality Collection?


Back in the 60s, design and politics worked together. Women were sexually liberated for the first time and suddenly the designers thought - we need something to represent this and they’re in miniskirts. Fashion and revolution worked hand in hand and you don’t see that so much anymore, But I’m now in this position to say something myself so I feel I can take those classic vintage styles and put a modern twist on it and I thought why not cover them in prints that I can think about sexual equality. So there’s a Love Wins skirt, a Woman Are Boss skirt and a Boys Toys dress - a skirt with ‘boys’ stuff on it - after having my son, I couldn’t believe how pink and blue everything is!

Some people might say there’s a lot of brands doing feminism to be able to sell it back to women. What makes your products different?

There’s a lot of hypocrisy in fashion very often and this is just how me and my mates feel, this is what the women who buy BOB feel. That’s what i love about having my own brand i just can say anything I like!

And…back to storage. What are your hard and fast rules about keeping vintage clothes well?

Right, let’s get this right. The hangers thing, the lavender thing and air, always make sure clothes can breathe. But don’t leave them in sunlight!

The Equality Collection by BOB by DOP is out now at www.bobbydop.com__. Find storage solutions at IKEA.com

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @SophWilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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