Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Hell For Leather

I have a love affair with all accessories, but especially unique, vintage items. However—and this should be obvious—vintage textiles can be very fragile, and require more care in wearing, storage, and laundering than new things.

The definition of vintage includes items that are more than 20 years old, while antique items are at least 100 years old. Most of my belts are either new or secondhand, and probably not older than ten years, so they are one accessory I need worry less about. Or so I thought …

What Not to Do

I used to keep my belts neatly rolled up in a drawer, which worked fine for quite a while, until my collection began growing, and the drawer began shrinking. Over a period of time the drawer began to resemble a jumble sale that had been enthusiastically rummaged through.

The disgraceful drawer-cum-jumble sale in question – you can actually see the belt in question in the centre, with one piece of leather already coming away from the buckle! A portent of tragedy to come … and I never noticed at the time.I am always hurrying in the morning to dress, and one day, keen to wear a new secondhand plaited leather belt with a lovely rectangular silver buckle, I went to pull it from the drawer. I could see its end sticking, snake-like out of the tangle, and I pulled. It resisted, and I tugged harder – and a moment’s impatience made this as-yet-unworn belt snap in half! Cue lamentations …

a moment’s impatience made this as-yet-unworn belt snap in half! Cue lamentations …

The belt had clearly become brittle during its short lifetime, and it could not stand the pressure I had put it under. I have since tidied up the drawer, and hung my belts on hooks in my closet, which is much more practical, and less wearing on them.

How to care for leather

Leather can deteriorate if left in the sun: it will dry out and become brittle, making it prone to cracking and eventually breakage, which is probably what had happened to my belt. Combat this by regularly moisturising the leather with a dressing or cream.

Always store leather items in a cool, dry place to prevent mildew growing on its surface (mildew loves a humid, wet basement). Don’t keep leather in plastic either – it needs to have some air to breathe.

Keep abrasives from it that will scuff or mark the leather as much as possible –although wear is inevitable, so there’s no sense in obsessing over it.

Don’t stretch leather (such as over-stuffing a wallet) as it will not go back to its original shape.

You’ll notice the stretching of shoes made from especially soft leather. I had a beloved pair of wedges by Australian label Habbot made from Italian glove leather that eventually took on the shape of my toes! Rather unsightly. That was after they had suffered from water damage after an unexpected shower too.

However, I am firmly of the opinion it is better to use and enjoy these delicate items for as long as they last than to keep them forever wrapped in cottonwool. Let them have their time in the sun – just not too much sunbaking!

Photos: December, August 2015

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