I met Elissa from Dress with Courage in Texas for the Style conference this March. I am pretty sure I didn't even really start our conversation normally, I just leaned over and pet her sequin jacket. As it turns, we both love thrifting and sequins and so we ran off into the sunset together. Or... she's here this week, guest posting for me about her (our) obsession with the shiny. Check her at her own piece of the www for much more thrift advice and wisdom here.
I possess a very strange and passionate attraction to evening wear. Despite the fact that I am not a 1980's soap opera star, minor celebrity, or teenage contestant in the Universal Royal Beauty Pageant, I lust for sequins and gowns. I have very rich fantasies of pulling on a sequin-encrusted dress so heavy the weight of it bends hangers into submission, and wearing it while strutting through the halls of an ostentatious marble and onyx mansion, preferably decorated by Donald Trump. I'd gracefully tuck the train underneath me while sitting through tedious cocktail hours. Sweeping yards of fabric would trail behind me as I climbed the steps of The Metropolitan Opera, or waltzed into the supermarket. Perhaps I'd wear it while washing the dishes. In such a garment, I'd use words like "darling" and "scandalous" and attend obscure charity events for causes like amoebic dysentery and sharpen my nails into glossy red talons and get into long-winded debates regarding which private club is more exclusive, Shinnecock Hills or The Maidstone and we all know The Maidstone is the best, don't we darling.
It's likely I'll never attend a charity event, or own a mansion. But I can play the part in my sequined top or glitzy bed jacket. Even a novelty vest has the same effect. Wearing sequins makes me feel like a pretty pretty princess. They're colorful, eye-catching, and surprisingly versatile. Thrift stores offer a load of options when it comes to sequined garments. Whether used as trim on a blouse, applied in rows on a vest, or entirely covering a minidress or skirt, there's no shortage of choices.
Given their delicate nature, vintage sequined clothing requires extra care and attention. Often, professional dry cleaners will provide special care for sequined clothing. But occasionally they refuse to dry clean this type of garment because of the fragile nature of sequins. Dry cleaning sequins is always a risk because the sequin itself could get altered.
However, if you want to try and care for your sequined clothes at home, here are a few tips:
For starters, if you see a loose thread, don't pull on it! This is good advice when it comes to any garment as it could compromise the make of the clothing. Sequins are often held together with a delicate length of thread, and pulling the thread from one loose sequin could unhinge an entire row.
As soon as you take off your sequined dress, shirt, or skirt, hang it up immediately, preferably inside out. Throwing it over a chair or onto the floor will make it more susceptible to snags, and could even bend the sequins if stepped on.
Be careful when spot-cleaning a sequined item. Surprisingly, some sequined garments may require less dry cleaning than other clothes because sequins act as a protector to the fabric. A small spill can usually be taken care of with spot-cleaning, but if you rub the garment too roughly or vigorously you could cause further damage to the sequins or the fabric.
Pay attention to where you are walking, and avoid corners and sharp edges. Snagging that pretty sequined blouse on something is a sure way to stretch, rip, or in other ways compromise the fabric.
Notice whether the sequins are sewn in or glued on the dress or blouse. Sequins that are sewn on are more stable and likely to last longer with proper care. Sequins that are glued on can more readily fall off if cleaned in hot water. If the glue melts, the sequins will fall off. So try to use cold water whenever the care label allows.
If you'd like to try cleaning sequined clothes at home, hand wash with a gentle soap such as Woolite. Sequins can get snagged easily so it always best to wash by hand. Air dry the garment flat.
(It's Yen again... seriously, Elissa's vest has a sparkly golfer on it... I am in awe.)