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 garment: vintage silk coat

About two months ago, I received a vintage silk coat from a client, accompanied by the following note:

Hi Stu:

Here's the coat I talked to you about. I'd like to see if it's worth restoring. If Rave can't do it, I know no one can. You can deliver it to the house or send it to Chicago. If you don't think you can restore it, maybe one of these days (name deleted) will do a movie in Hong Kong and I can have a tailor copy it.

With thanks,


Based on a further conversation with my client, I discovered that the coat had belonged to her mother and was, at least, 40 years old. As it did not have a label or any sign that a label had been removed, I assumed it was custom made for her mother.

From a restoration point of view, this coat presented a number of challenges ...

  • It had a funky, musty smell
  • It was heavily water stained
  • It was heavily soiled
  • It was discolored in numerous areas
  • It was light faded on the shoulders and along the sleeves.

In addition, the lining of the coat was very weak and had rotted in places..

After careful examination, I determined that key to this restoration was to remove the smell, soiling and fading, while simultaneously retaining as much of the original color as possible.

And the results?

The smell, water staining, soiling and discoloration have been removed. A few stains remain but they are so light as to be inconsequential. Unfortunately, the rotted lining could not be saved and we elected to remove and replace it completely.

The results can be viewed in the before and after photos below.


Before 1159 Before 1160
Before 1168 Before 1162
Before 1169 Before 1170
Before 1174 Before 1176
Before 1175
Before 1179 Before 1177
Before 1178
Before 1164 Before 1165
Before 1171 Before 1172



After 3600 After 3604
After 3601 After 3605
After 3602 After 3606
After 3603 After 3607
After 3609
After 3608

No need for a Hong Kong tailor after all.

How can I help you?

Print, share or save this blog post

| More
2 comment(s) for “The cleaning and restoration of a garment: vintage silk coat”
  1. Gravatar of Marianne Cahill
    Marianne Cahill Says:
    Stu--I have two words for you: OMG and WOW! There is no wonder why you are the best in the US--what you did with this vintage coat is beyond gorgeous--astonishing and miraculous is more like it.

    Can you do the same with people?

    Again, thank you, thank you--Marianne Cahill
  2. Gravatar of Jovan Gauthier
    Jovan Gauthier Says:
    Holy crap! This went from something you'd pass over at the local thrift store to something might have jumped straight from Jackie O's wardrobe. Great work!
Leave comment: