From sun and bug protection to woven metals and resin finishes, summer fabrics have gone high tech. Once you've invested in such a groovy garment, though, it helps to know what's gone into making it and how to care for it. In the case of clothes that have an SPF - sun protection factor – the clothing actually helps shut out the sun's nasty ultraviolet rays, the ones that cause wrinkles and skin cancer. The fabrics are very tightly woven, or in some cases treated with sun-blocking chemicals. They'll help keep you cool, too. The most common SPF material is nylon, which calls for a gentle wash in warm water, and air - or very low-temp drying.
Whoever invented the crinkle look is pure genius; easy to care for and flattering, it gives even the most basic piece of clothing texture and a look-at-me pizzazz - which may explain why it's one of the hottest celebrity clothing trends. It's easy to obtain, too: By day, look for simple crinkle tops; by night, try a skirt or even a short crinkle dress. Care for crinkle by addressing first the type of fabric - the most affordable items might be linen, cotton or rayon. Wash following the manufacturer's directions, then roll the item tightly, turning corners in on itself, so that the crinkles are dried right into the garment. When you unravel it - viola! - pleats galore.
Mercerized cotton is made from a thread that's specially treated with chemicals to give the final fabric a lustrous appearance. It gives evening wear that special shine, and day wear a pop. Simple but classy, it’s a working girl’s best friend. Take care of mercerized items as you would any fine cotton clothing, by hand-washing or a gentle machine cycle, preferably in a laundry bag. Dry flat. Mercerized material has a great love for lint, so you may want to fluff the item (without heat) in the dryer when it’s dry to help remove stray fibers.
Antimicrobial fabrics are treated with nano-particles of minerals to kill lurking bacteria, including those that kill odors, a capability especially welcome for workout or travel wear. It hasn’t quite hit stores for day or evening wear, though a dress that kills cooties sure wouldn’t hurt on a sweaty dance floor. Check labels to make sure, but otherwise you can launder these pieces as you would any other workout wear.
Most jeans are colored using chemical dyes, but a few companies are introducing denim made the way it was over a hundred years ago – using the pure dye of the indigo plant, which is one of the oldest dyes ever used by humans. The color is fabulous – and the dye process easier on the environment – but the complicated process means the denim is way expensive, so take care of them! Some fading is inevitable with natural dye and will give your duds a prized distinctive character, but you’ll go a long way toward preserving the prized blue with Tide TOTALCAREamp#153;, which is specially made to help protect fabric color. Turn your denim inside-out, wash in cold water, and air dry to complete the process.
The leathery feel and subtle but luxe texture of washed silk makes it a summer favorite from everything from party dresses to surprise (and surprisingly sexy) uses in sportswear, like cargo pants and even bikinis, and for sheets. Best of all, most washed silk can be hand washed; in fact, dry cleaning can make it look dingy. Do a test in a hidden spot first to make sure the material is colorfast. Wash quickly and press in a rolled towel to remove excess water, then dry flat. A side note: After a few hand washes, sheets can be washed in a machine on gentle cycle.
Embroidered tops dresses are this season's most fanciful trend, both on bohemian styles and more polished looks. Though the items appear delicate, you can wash them in a machine; just wash in the gentlest cycle and use cool water. A garment bag is definitely preferable if you have one. You can even dry and iron the clothing on low heat. Use Tide TOTALCAREamp#153; to help preserve color and help prevent pilling on both the stitching and the fabric it's on.