Frequently Asked Questions:
(Should you have any questions not covered here, please feel free to e-mail us and we will do our best to answer them.)
A. No. A little bit of arithmetic will quickly show why. At the Earth's surface there is a little under 15 lbs per square inch of atmospheric pressure. If you were to remove all the air from a soda can, there would now be about 15 lbs of pressure bearing against every square inch of the can with nothing to support this pressure from the inside. Using approximate measurements of 6 inches tall by say 2.5 inches in diameter, that is a total surface area of roughly 47 square inches not even counting the top and bottom. There are therefore over 700 lbs of pressure exerted on the side of the can. That is almost a third of a ton! Obviously a container big enough to hold a wedding gown would be many times the size of a soda can. Think about it - that means there will be several TONS of pressure exerted directly on your gown unless its container can support this pressure. It is obvious that such a container would have to be very substantial indeed - like a small submarine for instance!
So if someone tells you that they can vacuum-pack your gown in a sealed cardboard box, they are, quite frankly, misleading you. Our simple thought experiment above proves that no cardboard box could ever come anywhere near the strength needed to support the many tons of force exerted by a true or even a decent partial vacuum.
If you were merely to place your gown in a plastic bag and remove all the air, the gown would be crushed by the same 15 lbs per square inch pressure and probably ruined or at least badly creased. Thankfully, vacuum packing has fallen from favor in recent years.
A. It is difficult to see what is to be achieved by this method. If it is an attempt to protect the gown from "oxidation" by protecting it from oxygen, there is exactly the same concentration of oxygen inside the bag and box as outside. Unfortunately, now the gown cannot breathe and is forced to languish in the same stale air continuously. Thus if the gown was drycleaned shortly before storage, it is now constantly bathed in the harsh gases given off by the drycleaning chemicals. Worse still, the box and plastic bag themselves can give off damaging fumes. Unless you use a special (and very expensive) pH-neutral box, the natural acids in the cardboard will attack the fabric structure of your gown.
Plastic bags give off fumes in the form of plasticizers. These chemicals are used to stop plastics from becoming brittle. They are given off by most plastics over time - especially when new - which is why plastics tend to become brittle with age. Incidentally, this is the source of that greyish coating that builds up on the inside of the windows of a new car. These fumes will also coat and discolor your gown. It is far better to allow the gown to breathe and naturally rid itself of damaging fumes.
Plastic bags have one other notable trait - they are very good at sealing in moisture. Great for some food items; disastrous for clothing. They provide an almost ideal environment for the growth of mildew and mold.
A. Yes. This is always a good idea and becomes almost essential for long-term storage such as that of a wedding gown. Natural body oils from the skin can discolor a fabric over time, especially natural fabrics such as silk and cotton. Sugar-based stains from food or drink tend to turn brown with age, and are not readily removed by drycleaning alone. Ideally, you should go to a cleaner who specializes in cleaning in preparation for long-term storage. They will be familiar with the types of stains that can discolor a gown over time and the processes that should be used to remove them.
A. Yes it is - especially ultraviolet light. The best way to visualize this is to use an analogy. Light can be thought of as tiny bullets, smaller than atoms. The amount of light (how bright) is how many bullets; the color or type of light is how powerful the bullets are. The redder the light, the lower the energy - the bluer the light, the higher the energy. Ultraviolet light has a lot more energy than visible light (the bullets are magnums!) so for a given amount of light, ultraviolet can do a lot more damage. It is the ultraviolet component of sunlight that is responsible for giving your skin that healthy looking tan. The ultraviolet "bullets" damage your skin's molecular structure; a process counteracted by a protective pigment released into the skin. Even so, you have to be careful how much exposure your skin gets before serious damage ensues. The same is true of fabrics. The exposure - or the number and type of bullets in our analogy - determines the damage that light can do to the structure of the fabric. For some delicate fabrics such as silk, exposure - especially to ultraviolet light - should be minimized, whereas some man-made fibers can take a lot more of a beating.
A. No. The most perfect vacuum known to man is that of space, yet sunlight streams through it effortlessly. In fact a vacuum is the perfect medium for transmitting ultraviolet or any other type of light. Witness the light from stars. Depending on distance, that light may have left the star millions of years ago on its journey through the vacuum of space.
A. It is much preferred not to fold a garment for long-term storage if it can at all be avoided. Folds tend to become permanent with time and where folds occur, the fabric will tend to weaken. If a fold must be made for whatever reason, make sure that the radius of the fold is as large as possible and support it with acid-free tissue paper.
A. Not necessarily. It depends on the gown. If you have a one-piece gown with a heavy skirt and a light, delicate bodice, the weight hanging directly on the shoulders could stretch or distort them. However, a well designed gown should have loops sewn inside the waist area where the bodice joins the skirt. These loops are there specifically to hang the gown so the skirt hangs at the same height as if hanging from the shoulders of the bodice, but without hanging the gown's weight on them. By doing this, there is no strain on the bodice at all. This then is the preferred way to store a gown as it allows it to drape naturally and also avoids creases caused by folding your gown or laying it flat. If your gown does not have these loops, you might consider having them sewn in.
If your gown is of a lighter design, you may be able to hang it even without special hanging loops. If so, you can greatly reduce the risk of stretching by using a well padded hanger or a hanger heavily wrapped in acid-free tissue or washed, unbleached, undyed muslin. This will spread out the load over a larger area greatly reducing the risk of distortion. Of course if your gown happens to be a two-piece affair, you should have few hanging problems!
A. All of the care needed for garment storage apply equally both before and after the big day. The only difference is that afterwards, you should pay even closer attention to the cleaning of your gown. It is easy to miss dried-on clear drinks such as champagne, but these will turn brown over time.
A. Absolutely. In fact Garment Sentry is specifically designed for quick and easy access while still providing ultimate protection. So you can safely store you gown short-term as well as long-term without compromising access to it.
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