Beyond Retro

Vintage, thrift, second-hand, retro, upcycling - whatever you call it, wearing older clothing is affordable, eco-friendly, and stylish. However, the materials that these clothes are made from have changed considerably over the years, and detergents and stain removers have evolved with them. Because of this, it isn't advisable to just throw them in the washing machine with the rest of your load, and some of them may require special consideration. We're going to take a look at some of the most common fabrics used in past fashions that might require special care when removing food, dirt and sweat stains.


This is a fabric that was first produced in the early 1900s, and whilst still commonly used in a blend, it has fallen somewhat out of favour as a primary material. The fibres are made from cellulose, taken from wood pulp, and was the preferred cloth for the Hawaiian shirts popularized in the 1940s and 50s America. It's important to check the care label before attempting any stain removal, as rayon can be quite sensitive. When washing, take care not to scrub too vigorously, and always use cold water.


These are both fabrics of a loose cotton weave, with muslin being finer and cheese cloth much heavier. These are both still used to make clothes from today, but found the height of their popularity in the 1960s and 70s. Because of the way they are made, these garments can become very delicate over time, so extra care has to be taken whilst washing. It's recommended that you wash muslin by hand in warm water, with a scoop of Vanish in the water, being sure not to wring it out during washing, as it can stretch and lose its shape.


Crimplene is a man-made fabric made from polyester yarn, which results in a heavy cloth that is wrinkle resistant and retains its shape. Because of this, it was popular as a ready-to-wear material in the 1950s and 60s. It fell out of popularity in later decades, with people favouring lighter polyesters, or natural fabrics like cotton. Crimplene is easy to clean, as that was its design, and can be washed below forty degrees and drip dried. Synthetics are all heat sensitive, so it's important to follow the instructions on the care label.