Cool, elegant, and lustrous, silk is the queen of summer fabrics. It's relatively easy to care for, too - most silk can be hand-washed or laundered on the delicate cycle, and can be pressed with a cool iron. It's storing silk where you need to be most careful. Like any natural fabric, silk needs to breathe, so don't encase it in plastic at the end of the season. Fold silk items loosely, then wrap in tissue paper or thin cotton to prevent stains or pills.
How we love our cashmere, even in summer. Here's how to make it last: After hand-washing cashmere in gentle soap, or in a laundry bag on the delicate cycle, gently roll it in a towel and squeeze out excess moisture. Dry your treasure flat, and store folded. Never hang cashmere to store, even super-thin summer weight, as it may distort the shape. You'll look like you're wearing little shoulder pads.
Smooth, shiny and luxurious, satin used to be made exclusively of silk. These days, it can made in a number of fabrics, from cotton sateen to polyester and nylon, and we love it just the same. Care for cotton sateen with Tide TOTALCAREamp#153;, which is formulated especially to help keep fabric from pilling - a must with sensitive sateen. TOTALCAREamp#153; will help keep your cotton sateen new for 30 washes, or your money back.* Then hang it so that it doesn't rub against other garments, to further protect it from pilling.
*Call 866-772-1037. Must send dated receipt amp cap. Limited to one coupon per name, household or address. Through September 30, 2009.
In general, the less heat the better, just as in the clothing drying cycle. Iron clothes, especially those made of cotton, rayon and silk, while they are still damp by removing them from the dryer before they are completely dry. If that's not convenient, dampen dried clothes with a steam iron or sprinkle with warm water. Allow the moisture to permeate the fabric.
Linen is made of fiber from the stem of the flax plant, and is remarkably strong. It won't shrink or discolor in sunlight, resists pilling,and softens as it ages. We love it for summer, as it feels cool and comfortable in hot weather, dries quickly and doesn't lint. What it does do, notoriously, is wrinkle. Always air dry, unless it is a linen blended with a man-made textile and specifically says it can be machine dried on the label. Avoid folding or hanging the garment the same way all the time, as this will set the wrinkles for good.
Light and easy to care for, cotton is our favorite summer fabric. It also breathes well and absorbs moisture easily. It goes running; it goes casual; it goes dressy. What scares it, though, is fading, shrinking and stretching. To keep cottons looking great, separate them when washing by color and weight - jeans in one pile, cotton PJ's in another. And protect cotton from direct sunlight; when the season is over, cotton should be stored, folded, in a dark drawer, preferably in a space that's not too damp and not too hot.
Clothing gets dusty just hanging in your closet, so give everything a good overhaul at least yearly. Get ready for the next season by cleaning things you know you'll need first, and then work your way down to lesser-worn items. If you haven't worn something for at least two years - donation time! Your clothing needs room to breathe and to hang freely. Then, make sure your summer wardrobe is clean before storing it carefully until sunny days are here again.