Most of us have been there. You're searching for something to wear, you find an old stand-by piece that you love, and you put it on. Then, when you go look in the mirror, you're crestfallen. That piece that once seemed blacker than night is now just gray. Somehow, one of your favorite pieces managed to fade while you weren't paying attention. In this post, I'd like to help give some advice on what to do to prevent your favorite items of clothing from fading to an unintentional gray.
My first tip might seem strange to some, but it is to carefully consider whether certain items really need to be washed before they can be worn again. Trousers (especially jeans) can be worn multiple times before they need to be washed and most outwear will only need to be washed when it gets a stain on it. Reducing the amount of times you wash your clothes will make the dyes fade less, so your blacks stay black longer.
Another trick that has been used for a long time is to turn dark items inside out while you are washing them. This ensures that if there is fading from the clothes rubbing against each other and being exposed to the water, it will be mostly on the inside of the garment. However, if you have dirt on your clothes, this may prevent some of the dirt from getting washed off, so that's something to consider.
Next, you might want to reconsider what you're washing your clothes in. Using cold water will cause the dye to run less, and a detergent specially formulated for dark and black clothing will keep your blacks blacker longer. A popular choice is Woolite Extra Dark, which contains no bleaching agents often found in other detergents. Another option is to add a bit of vinegar (no more than one cup) to your wash, which helps "set" the dye. This is especially helpful the first time you wash your article of clothing, which is the time when most of the dye is going to run.
How you dry your clothing is also going to determine how much it fades. In general, using a machine dryer is always going to cause some sort of fading in your clothing. For best results, take your clothes out of the washer and hang them up somewhere. While a clothes line outside seems like a good (and eco-friendly!) idea, it's important to remember that the sun will also fade dyes overtime. Hanging them up in the shade to dry, or in your home, will keep dyes from fading a lot.
When all else is lost (because even these tips will not help a garment last forever), it might be necessary to redye your faded clothes. This is generally fairly simple. Just purchase a brand of black dye that is formulated to work on the type of fabric your garment is made of and follow the instructions. However, extremely delicate pieces and pieces with appliques, embroidery, or beading on them might be damaged by the dye, as well as any pieces that have lighter colors on them, so use your best judgement here. If you're not comfortable redyeing pieces on your own, ask your local tailor if they can help you out. While it's not a typically offered service, you'd be surprised at what tailors can do.
And, speaking of black clothes, have an outfit post!
While I was in Richmond last weekend, I had a conversation with my father about the infamous Goths Up Trees tumblr blog. He found it oddly hilarious and thus decided that he had to take a picture of me for that blog. Up in a tree. Okay, dad. While I won't be submitting this picture to the Goths Up Trees blog, I thought I'd share it with you all.
Shoes - Payless
Skirt - Fanplusfriend
Shirt - Old Navy
Capelet - Victorian Trading Co.