True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

The cleaning and restoration of a 1943 wedding dress

Our client's aunt got married in St. Louis in 1943, at the height of the war. Given the scarcity of resources at the time, the dress is a testament to both her aunt's fabric procurement skills as well as her dress making skills.

Unfortunately, the dress had been stored for almost 69 years in a brown kraft box and exhibited all the issues associated with storing an heirloom garment in a highly acidic environment:

  • the dress had a "left-in-the-attic-for-way-too-long" musty smell
  • the fabric was weak in places
  • the fabric had turned a "dirty yellow"
  • the creases were deep and pronounced.

On the positive side, there was minimal staining, evidence that the dress had possibly been cleaned at some point or evidence that the wedding ceremony and other festivities was relatively uneventful.

For our client the issue was simple: could the dress be restored, and, if so, what were the odds of success?

When she left our facility, our client commented: "I'm not expecting miracles - but please do the best you can."

Well, Mary, we assessed the challenges posed by this dress, we harnessed our skills, we took our time, and we did "the best we could." I'm sure you'll agree that the result was spectacular: The fabric had been transformed from a dirty yellow to off white; the beadwork and the fabric covered metal buttons were perfectly intact; the musty smell had been completely removed; and the heavy creases had been eliminated.

The following before and after photos reflect the transformation ...


Front full before Rear full before
Front half before Back half before
Trim before
Cuff before



Full front after Back full after
Front half after Back half after
Train after


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1 comment(s) for “The cleaning and restoration of a 1943 wedding dress”
  1. Gravatar of Red Wedding Dresses
    Red Wedding Dresses Says:
    Amazing work, these old things are priceless and should be handled with proper care and attention.
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