Fashion notes: Take care to preserve your precious buys
After ogling the Gucci Soho Disco bag for the past few months, I finally bought it last week, in a neutral beige shade that Gucci calls “camelia”. I paired it with my new navy-blue Cecilie Copenhagen kaffiyeh top from Boutique 1 and white Moto jeans with ripped knees from Topshop.
Quite proud with my styling, I spent all of Friday happily frolicking about Dubai in my outfit, which took me from burgers for brunch at Salt at the Kite Beach to Mall of the Emirates for a spot of shopping in the evening.
Come Saturday morning, when I picked up the bag before heading to a tea party, I was given an excruciatingly unpleasant surprise. The entire back of the once camelia purse was stained with murky dark-blue blemishes. This bag – my first Gucci splurge – that I had bought less than 48 hours ago, suddenly looked like it had gone through at least a year of wear.
I fought back tears as my husband grabbed a sponge and started wiping at the smears – but the more vigorously he scrubbed, the more patent the stains became. Admittedly, we’re Gucci newbies, and while I do own a couple of leather handbags, most are dark in colour – I had never been faced with this problem before.
In hindsight, the fault was completely mine, for wearing a hand-dyed textile, in a dark shade, that hadn’t yet been washed. Being relatively familiar with fabrics, I know that some textiles have “runny colours”, and need to be washed or soaked in warm water a couple of times before their colour stops bleeding. But in my excitement over my new bag, I forgot this critical fact. So that you don’t follow in my careless footsteps with your precious purchases, keep the following tips in mind to preserve your fine splurges.
If you notice staining on your leather bag, don’t go at it right away with a sponge. Wet a microfibre cloth, and test it out on the bottom of the bag, which is least visible when you’re using it, to see what effect it will have. After it dries, if it hasn’t left any marks, gently rub the stained spot with a gentle soap, and take care not to soak the leather. Then wipe it with a dry cloth, and leave to dry for up to an hour.
For leather that has been slightly scuffed or scratched, take a wet wipe and wipe down the whole bag or garment to smooth out the overall texture. Again, test a small section first, as this might hide the scuffing, but in the process could slightly alter the colour of the leather.
Most importantly, when storing or packing your purses or shoes, especially the leather ones, always keep them in their dust bags to prevent any damage. If your bag is lightweight leather, also consider keeping it stuffed with tissue while stored.
When it comes to clothing, one of the most annoying outfit killers is often an obvious smear of red lipstick or an unmistakable patch of beige foundation. When this happens on our whites, it’s an absolute nightmare.
The National’s fashion editor, Sarah Maisey, who has years of experience in solving these types of fashion emergencies while coordinating photo shoots, advises to avoid rubbing in the stain further. Instead, try to lift it off. Her trick is to use a piece of sticky tape to remove make-up stains, and she says that it even works on bright-red lipstick. If this fails, try using stain removers such as Vanish. Finally, when in doubt about a high-priced possession, take it to a professional rather than doing it yourself: head to the bag spa or the dry-cleaners. DIY isn’t always the answer.