May 11th, 2015
On My Mind

Closet Clean Out

Hermes Birkin

I love the fickleness of fashion—in, out, in, out, in, out. Just last year, I was ‘over’ the Birkin but, now, it looks kind of good again.

It all started when I found a moth in my closet (any advice on this would be much appreciated) and decided to take everything out. In the process, I’ve unearthed items that I don’t currently wear but, hold on to. My Birkin falls firmly into that category. In a moment of synchronicity, I saw these pictures on Self Service the same day that I started my closet clean out. Maybe it’s a sign.

SHOP

what's new

MARNI

Shoulder bag

NILI LOTAN

Cashmere sweater

RACHEL COMEY

Cotton trousers

GUCCI

Metallic loafer pumps

ALTUZARRA

Pleated dress

VALENTINO

Tan-go patent pumps

THEORY

Silk-crepe top

GUCCI

Marmont loafers

FRED LEIGHTON

Diamond earrings

LOEWE

Puzzle bag

SEE BY CHLOÉ

Velvet top

view all

  • Don’t wait on dealing with moths – my sweaters ended up RIDDLED with moth holes the year before I moved to Charleston! I’d have your favorites cleaned…and I ended up storing in plastic bins. Don’t wait to address it though!

    Meghan TreziesMay 11th, 2015  9:09 AM

     
  • Terrific that you found the little critter 😉 ! After cleaning, I spray with Slay, let dry in airy place, wrap in tissue and then store in the hard plastic boxes.

    lynn@maturityanditsmuse.orgMay 11th, 2015  9:32 AM

     
  • Dear Preston,

    I am a museum-trained archivist and can definitely offer some advice on dealing with moths. Please feel free to email.

    Cheers,
    JAO

    Julie AnnMay 11th, 2015  9:33 AM

     
  • Looks like a picture of how not to treat a Birkin! On the same note as Meghan’s comment, if the sweaters are cleaned before storing the moths probably won’t bother them. I’ve had the same experience, finding little holes here and there. Upsetting.

    AprilMay 11th, 2015  9:34 AM

     
  • Definitely don’t wait! If you see moths the damage is likely done as was my case. It’s the larvae that do the eating/destroying. I just spent the entire weekend laundering everything washable in our closets, wiping down walls, vaccuming and today will spend a fortune on dry cleaning. Those moths did a lot of costly damage, particularly to my husband’s wool trousers and wool coats. Google pics of larvae at different stages so you know what to look for. I found larvae on several cotton items. They can incubate there then move to the cashmere and wool. I wish I would have acted sooner after seeing the first moth. They destroyed a vintage pony hair purse that belonged to a beloved aunt that I had packed in tissue and a box. Destroyed it! And an Irish sweater I still wore frequently that I purchased on my honeymoon 15 years ago. Act swiftly and go overboard on cleaning, the alternative of a continuing infestation is unfathomable.

    Keri CarroneMay 11th, 2015  9:52 AM

     
  • Okay, first of all, those pictures are fabulous ! And then, I am much more in love with the Kelly (or Constance) than the Birkin, but I think that you can see women with amazing style wear their Birkin : just take Julie de Libran, I still remember the pictures shot in her apartment where she was carrying hers, and she looked unbelievably chic !

    http://www.pardonmyobsession.com/

    CarolineMay 11th, 2015  10:52 AM

     
  • Best to clean and dry clean everything before it is put away, but really you have to stop the lifecycle, some fragrant cedar and lavender won’t do it. You need something like this in the space…http://www.amazon.com/Safer-Brand-07270-Clothes-Alert/dp/B0017M5V9A/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1431365589&sr=8-5&keywords=moth… or the cycle will never end.
    A fellow Andover ’14 mom

    StefanieMay 11th, 2015  12:50 PM

     
  • I soend a fortune dry cleaning my sweaters every April/May and then put them in lavender scented plastic bags until October/November! I am still loving and using my Kelly bags more. But the Birkins are in their dust bags and stuffed with white tissue, awaiting their turn!

    MMSMay 11th, 2015  12:55 PM

     
  • The Birkin is still my favorite Hermes bag – it’s the most convenient to use, and it casual enough for LA.
    I don’t have one, but if I did, I would carry it for sure.

    KathyMay 11th, 2015  4:03 PM

     
  • Personally, not a big fan of Birkin, perhaps because there have been so many knock-off’s and over-exposure for many years. Love Hermes, but for my taste, smaller is better, quieter, & more discreet. The Birkin screams money, something which has never appealed to me.
    We recently ‘refreshed’ the cedar closet by sanding it and then oiling it with cedar oil. Moth balls seem to work, if you can tolerate the odor. Plastic is an enemy to natural fibers; try heavy canvas zipper bags and place cedar blocks or moth balls inside of them regularly.

    PaulaMay 11th, 2015  6:14 PM

     
  • To Julie Ann – I would love to hear your recommendations regarding moths and the care of textiles over time. We could all benefit from your guidance and expertise. Thank you!

    PaulaMay 11th, 2015  8:40 PM

     
  • ohhhh I dream of a claret-coloured Birkin! DOWN with moths !

    disneyrollergirlMay 12th, 2015  3:23 AM

     
  • Cloet clean out = pure wellness
    Do not hesitate
    Milla

    http://turnonchic.com/

    MillaMay 12th, 2015  3:49 AM

     
  • From Julie Ann–

    There’s no fool-proof method or quick and easy answer with moths. The long and short of it is that it’s going to be a major cleaning job.

    First of all, you are right to take everything out of your closet and inspect it all thoroughly. Believe it or not, it’s not the little brown moths that do the damage. It is, rather, their larvae (gross!). So you’ll need to look for signs of the larvae. If there is actual larvae feeding on a garment, they can range from black-brownish to whitish, and are usually squiggly and moving. (So awful to witness — sorry!) Or, you might find a small, white tubular shaped case that the moth has made. You’ll usually find them hiding along seams, inside pockets, under collars, in and on linings, etc., so be sure to look in all of these spots, turn back cuffs, etc. A hole created by a moth will be eaten clean through — i.e. no fabric fibers left in the center of the hole. Furs will usually be ‘clipped’ down to the base and could be exposing the skin. (Moths eat any kind of proteinaceous fiber: silk, wool, fur, etc. They generally don’t bother with cellulostics like cotton or linen.)

    The most practical way to kill the larvae is by dry cleaning, but I have been told by museum conservators that you must use a traditional cleaner that uses Perc — new ‘organic’ cleaners don’t use effective chemicals. Other options including freezing, or leaving the garments in the sun and brushing them out.

    In terms of getting rid of an infestation, you have to thoroughly clean the entire closet. The moths love to hide in tiny crevices along baseboards and cracks in the floors, so you need to vacuum very well. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag after. Best to inspect any cracks / tiny holes with a flashlight. If your closet is carpeted, I really hate to say it, but they can be hiding under or in it (and eating it!). If it’s hardwood, be sure to mop or wipe down the floor as well as any shelving after you vacuum.

    It’s really important not to let any dust bunnies pile up — moths are very attracted to those because they’re usually composed of hair and fibers from clothing. Moths love to hide in the dark (sunlight will kill the larvae), so be sure not to pack things together too tightly, which would give them places to hide. They are also attracted to humidity, so if your closet happens to be close to a bathroom, you should invest in some of those dehumidifying powders that come in little jars — you can just stick a couple in far corners of the closet.

    Another big factor is not storing clothing that is dirty. Seems obvious, of course, but even if you wear a dress to dinner and don’t realize you may have gotten a spot of food on it — it can attract a moth. So now that you’ve had a little infestation, you need to be uber vigilant about how clean your clothing is. Perspiration, food, etc., — even if it is so faint we can’t detect it — can oxidize and attract pests.

    For the time being, I would put your most valuable pieces in cotton garment bags (you can group several pieces in one bag) until you haven’t seen any signs of a moth in a while. Also be on the look out in the fall — they usually emerge in the late spring and again in the early fall.

    Don’t waste your money on cedar blocks or lavender sachets — to be effective they need to be at high concentrations and inside tightly sealed containers.

    Hmm … I think that is it! I hope some of the info is helpful for you. Also — be careful even with new clothing you’re integrating into your wardrobe. I once saw garment moths fly out of the pleat of a brand new Proenza skirt in Barneys (!!!).

    PrestonMay 12th, 2015  4:02 AM

     
  • Preston, can you ask Julie Ann the best way to store sweaters once they are dry cleaned?

    DawnMay 12th, 2015  6:49 AM

     
  • Whilst I believe that the Hermes bag has an intrinsic element of subtlety – I think this picture does a disservice to the Hermes essence- to me it shows a sense of vulgarity and ostentation- the antithesis of what this blog is about.

    YvetteMay 12th, 2015  7:27 AM

     
  • Preston, congratulations on the closet clean out – I do this for all my friends who think “what if…” and “but if might..” and “It doesn’t look dated…” I’m rigorous – I ask them to tell me WHY they need to keep a particular piece. Usually, they can’t come up with a “real” reason, but one must pick one’s battles. Once I donate/toss/consign the many, many bags of discards, purchase the correct hangers and get their palette simplified, they don’t even remember what they let go. As for your thoughts on the Birkin – I’m reminded of a KiC post a number of months ago when you mentioned that a Birkin wasn’t on your list (of wants) I think you meant. I admit I imagined you already had one. When I was just starting out, there wasn’t an item I wanted more and I remained intent. I did get one – 40″cm basic black Clemence with palladium hardware (that it wasn’t gold tone was shocking to many). I’ve been letting things go for a while for various reasons and a couple of weeks ago, I sold my Birkin and a couple of Jige clutches. And while they do scream money and, in my opinion look best when one is dressed down, I don’t miss it on bit. Now I simply want unrecognizable pieces – or nearly unrecognizable outside the fashion set. I have nothing against Hermes or their lovely pieces; but it was time to start a new chapter. Do others here feel similarly or are there pieces, other than, jewels, that are impossible to part with?

    TabithaMay 12th, 2015  7:46 AM

     
  • Thanks Julie Ann and Preston! The information about moths was very helpful they can be so destructive $$$$$$$

    Sue TothMay 12th, 2015  8:16 AM

     
  • I love these pictures because the Birkin can look so bourgeois.

    PrestonMay 12th, 2015  8:18 AM

     
  • Paula —

    Always take all dry cleaning out of the plastic bags the cleaner returns your clothing in. The plastic traps the cleaning chemicals as they off-gas from the clothing, and can oxidize the garment’s color. (E.g., a white dress will turn yellow.)

    Once sweaters are cleaned, I store them in tightly sealed cotton sweater bags for the warm-weather months. The cotton breathes and allows air to circulate, but will discourage moths from moving in. Make sure you zip them all the way closed.

    Don’t interleave the sweaters with the paper the cleaner wraps them in either — if it’s not acid free tissue, it can be damaging.

    Hope that helps!
    Cheers,
    Julie Ann

    Julie AnnMay 12th, 2015  8:43 AM

     
  • Where does one get cotton sweater bags?

    SusanMay 12th, 2015  9:49 AM

     
  • I’m thinking The container Store. They have some nice hanging ones.

    PrestonMay 12th, 2015  10:06 AM

     
  • Many thanks to Julie Ann for her precious advices!

    Warmest wishes from France,
    Zivile

    ZivileMay 12th, 2015  10:28 AM

     
  • Wow! Thank you for all of this excellent information! Owning fine clothes, like anything well made, is a burden in terms of care of the investment, which is why I encourage my 24 year old daughter to postpone owning pricey clothing until her life accommodates a fine laundry room (or a fine laundress). Like Tabitha, I prefer to live with what I refer to as, ‘discreet luxury.’ It is possible to be incredibly chic without any obvious sign of ‘who’ you are wearing. For me, the most chic is when a woman’s identity is her own, not a designer’s identity.

    PaulaMay 12th, 2015  1:34 PM

     
  • Great information, thank you!
    I have also used moth traps, essentially glue traps with moth pheromones. These work to some extent but only as part of larger scheme. There are two types of moths & it is best to buy both kinds of traps to cover your bases.

    Love your posts as always

    RobinMay 12th, 2015  2:29 PM

     
  • I had a horrible moth infestation a couple of years ago. I had everything re woven and never want to do that again. Now I air everything before I put it away in hard plastic drawers. Also, strangely enough, I found that leaving the closet lights on deters moths – go figure – but I have not had any problems since.

    SusanMay 12th, 2015  9:26 PM

     
  • Why so many comments about the birkin? Preston is cleaning out a closet…no one knows how she got these bags, what if a relative gave her a few of them? At one time, most of us wouldn’t have known what a birkin was…until the modern style evolution..and, AHEM the Kardashians. Saying that having birkins is the opposite of what this blog is about isn’t exactly fair. What this blog IS about is personal style and obviously we like it because we come here.

    ChennillMay 17th, 2015  6:46 AM

     
  • Tabitha
    Love your advice, jewelry and accessories have always been my statement pieces. To me they complete the outfit. I also do not want items that scream money. With my job I interact with many diverse customers, and it can offend them. I am working hard to find items that have staying power, but do not scream money. I would love to find a “friend” like you who could help me to get rid of those “what if…” and “but if might..” and “It doesn’t look dated.

    Preston – great topic, always enjoy everyones comments!

    Beth

    BethMay 17th, 2015  7:13 AM

     
  • For the moth: Cedar chips in a bag and make a spray with cedar oil and make a spray bottle with cedar oil and water to spray clothing. Love your blog – good luck!

    BellaJune 13th, 2015  1:09 PM

     

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