The question of whether or not your wedding gown should be maintained in a vacuum-sealed container is one of the most frequently inquired and hotly contested topics. The word "Vacuum Seal" conjures up notions of "freshness," "longevity," and "contaminant-free." While vacuum sealing is a great option for leftover foods and other tasty recipes, vacuum sealing your wedding gown might be a ticket for disaster, turning your prized garment into a faded, yellowed remembrance of an otherwise lovely day.
We've gathered information from the world's most trusted and extensively scientifically tested fabric conservation and museum curators to help critically analyze why services that vacuum seals your wedding gown, or trying the DIY part of vacuum sealing it yourself, can result in disaster. The Smithsonian Institute, The American Institute for Conversation of Historic and Artistic Works, The National Archives, and others are among these sources. Native American Ceremonial Gowns, the Nation's First Flags, and the gowns of America's First Ladies are all cared for by these institutions, who are trusted to look after fabrics that are thousands of years old.
The modern wedding gown has evolved into a stunning, extravagant, and intricate tangle of fabrics. Satin, silk, charmeuse, chiffon, organza, tulle, and lace are just a handful of the various fabrics used by fashion designers to create runway-worthy wedding gowns, each with its own set of characteristics. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all organic. All organic materials gradually degrade with age and are always in a state of decay. It is merely a characteristic of the natural fibers that our bridal gown preservation technique acts to substantially slow down this process to a near-standstill. The breakdown of long-chain molecules into shorter chains causes this deterioration, which, if left untreated, may cause the materials of your bridal gown to become brittle over time.
Did you know that microscopic elements and abrasion on the surface of your wedding gown can really break through the fiber materials of your gown over time? This is only one of the many reasons why you should get your wedding gown professionally cleaned before storing it for the long term. Invisible stains from your wedding day, such as makeup, body oils and sweat, oils from perfumes, and many other pollutants, are another compelling reason to clean. These undetectable stains will tear down natural fibers over time, causing ugly yellow and brown staining as well as weak and brittle materials. The best method to ensure that spot staining won't harm your wedding gown many years down the line is to ensure that these stains are cleaned before storing them.
Textile fibers must be preserved in an environment with appropriate air movement, according to the Smithsonian Institute. To avoid long-term damage from moisture condensation, fabrics should not be enclosed in airtight plastic bags or containers. What happens when moisture becomes trapped in an airtight storage container with your wedding gown? Dry rot. Dry rot is mostly concerned with mold damage and has little to do with rotting. Fabric storage in a humid environment is the most typical cause of dry rot. It's hard to keep microscopic mold and mildew spores off the surface of your gown while packing it into a vacuum-sealed container. The moisture trapped within the textiles of your gown feeds these spores that naturally circulate in the air, breaking down fragile threads. Unfortunately, dry rot and fabric degradation occur over time and are sometimes undetectable until severe deterioration has occurred.
Fragile fabrics, such as the one used to make your bridal gown, like to wear thin in sharp folds. Instead of folding your bridal gown, you should roll it over soft fabrics to avoid harsh creases. Our Wedding Gown Preservation Kit includes a bust that, when paired with acid-free tissue paper, allows our skilled fabric handlers to wrap your gown utilizing a roll-over technique that avoids any fabric creases. The procedure of vacuum sealing your wedding dress causes incredibly sharp and inescapable wrinkles as air is swiftly extracted from the plastic bag.
Many plastics, particularly those that aren't designed for long-term storage, degrade through time. This is especially true of the vacuum-sealed containers you could use to store seasonal items at home. Due to molecular disintegration, these polymers emit fumes as they age. These plastics, as well as the fumes they emit, should never come into contact with your bridal gown, which is impossible with these vacuum-sealed DIY containers. If you've thought of storing your wedding gown in a vacuum-sealed container to keep moths and other vermin away, you may simply do it by storing it in a clean, dry, cold area and inspecting it on a yearly basis.
Let's look at the optimal circumstances for storing your wedding gown once it has been professionally washed and preserved, now that you know why you shouldn't vacuum seal it. This is the common rule where all of our sources agree on, which is that you should store your wedding gown in the same conditions that you would be comfortable in. The musty, humid basements as well as the dramatic temperature swings found in an attic should not be considered as storage area for your wedding dress.
The Effects of Humidity on Wedding Gown Storage
Wedding gown materials are hygroscopic, which means that as relative humidity levels rise and fall, they will naturally absorb and release water vapor contained in the air. Fibers swell, color transfer, and mold can grow at extremely high relative humidity levels. Mold growth on clothes can occur in as little as 2-3 days in an area with humidity levels of 90% and above, according to the Canadian Conservation Institute, whereas humidity levels of 50% and lower completely eliminate mold formation when kept at a constant temperature of 77°F. Mold and the subsequent growth of microorganisms, in the worst-case scenario, generate severe staining that is unfortunately impossible to remove. Mold development can also weaken fibers to the point where they disintegrate. If you have air conditioning in your home, your gown should be OK during the hot, humid summer months. If not, giving your cleaned and preserved gown to a family member or friend for preservation in their humidity-controlled home may be the best option.
The Effects of Temperature on Wedding Gown Storage
High temperatures might also shorten the lifespan of your wedding gown. Chemically unstable materials, such as weighted silk, which is commonly used in wedding gowns, are especially vulnerable to disintegration at high temperatures. Low temperatures benefit textiles in a variety of ways, including minimizing chemical deterioration and minimizing the likelihood of insect infestation. High temperatures might also shorten the lifespan of your wedding gown. Chemically unstable materials, such as weighted silk, which is commonly used in wedding gowns, are especially vulnerable to disintegration at high temperatures. Low temperatures benefit textiles in a variety of ways, including minimizing chemical deterioration and minimizing the likelihood of insect infestation. The rate of fabric deterioration in an optimum temperature of 32°F and 86°F is 20,000+ years and 250 years, respectively, in an extreme case. This is a fantastic example of why you shouldn't store your wedding gown in the harsh circumstances found in attics.
The Effects of UV Light on Wedding Gown Storage
When it comes to long-term fabric storage, UV radiation is one of the worst offenders. UV light causes photooxidation, which is also known as phototendering, which causes materials to become weaker and embrittled over time. Traditional colors can accelerate photooxidation, and silk materials are especially vulnerable to self-destruction when exposed to UV radiation over an extended period of time. Storing your wedding gown in a dark location rather than in direct sunlight can mean the difference between a gown lasting 2000 years and one that only lasts 100 years.
The ideal spot to keep your wedding gown in your home is underneath your bed. When you receive your wedding gown, it will be packaged in a display case that will be preserved within a UV-protected wedding dress storage box. Keeping your wedding gown in this container under your bed will most likely be the best option. The basic explanation for this is that your bedroom is the one space in your house where you spend the most time and where you want to sleep the best. This means that the temperature and humidity levels in your cozy bedroom are most likely to be optimal for your bridal gown as well.
Please contact our fabric specialists if you have any queries about keeping your gown or why vacuum sealing your wedding gown could result in tragedy.