As a fashion designer and as a person who values her garments, a professional dry cleaner in not a simple vendor, they are like a trusted friend; one who can truly appreciate and value my wardrobe while taking pride in their work is a match made in heaven.
When we invest in our wardrobe (link to personal style post) and in our closet (link to closet post), we need to feel like there is a clear understanding between our dry cleaners and ourselves. A realistic expectation is that the garment(s) will be returned in the best possible condition.
Here is a short personal story. I had been using a certain DC for a number of years and although the last couple had not been measuring up to their standard, I continued to support them. Recently, I did a photo shoot for my business; one of the dresses I wore was brand new, and a favorite of mine – and, oh, did I mention never been worn? Unfortunately, during a hair touch up a hairspray stain appeared on the top left shoulder.
Through hair and makeup these things can happen and my hairstylist was devastated. I reassured her that my trusted dry cleaner would look after this. I spoke to the DC and stated my case, and that this was an investment piece, and never worn. “Please look after it,” I pleaded. Much to my disappointment, I didn’t hear back for 10 days until I called to check when this dress was going to be delivered in what I’d hoped would be perfect condition. The response I got was: “I’m sorry. It is damaged and we cannot fix it.”
I would have expected a call to notify me of this, not wait for me to call them to only then give me the bad news. After all the years of loyalty and trust, things did fall apart. My fault was that I saw the service starting to unravel, so to speak, but I didn’t make the change. After some tears were shed that this wonderful Alexander McQueen piece would not be returned to its special place in my closet, the decision was made. I did get reimbursed for the dress in the end, but that was not the point. And that, my friends, was the end of a 10-year relationship with my DC.
Garments are replaceable, but your hard-earned money spent on your wardrobe should be valued by any supplier you use. Ask yourself: Is your relationship with your DC solid? Or should you break up like I should have when I saw trouble?
Tips to finding the “right” dry cleaner and questions to ask yourself:
- Do some research on their services and reviews – ask trusted friends who value their garments as much as you do or your trusted seamstress (link to article)
- Be weary of a broad price list. Each type of garment should be listed with their price
- Does the staff understand and listen to your needs?
- Am I using this dry cleaner out of convenience or for inexpensive rates?
- Have I ever noticed wayward pressed seams?
- Have they asked what level of starch you may want for your shirts?
- When there is a concern with a garment, do they know to call first and get your permission to move ahead?
- Are the knits coming back on hangers? If so, are you comfortable with that? Do you want shirts folded or on hangers?
- Have any buttons, zippers, snaps come back damaged without them pointing that out?
- If stains have not been removed, are they bringing that to your attention, or returning as if nothing happened?
- If you have special requests, do they listen? (Side note: With my ex-DC, I had exhausted the request of having my husband’s shirt collar buttons buttoned at all times – it was a small sign that they were not listening.)
- Do not be afraid to have a conversation outlining exactly what you want. For example ask about the equipment they use. Find out if they can handle specialized items; you may need fine knits, beaded appliqués, fine laces, items with fringe or florets dry cleaned. Equipment for pressing pants is different from a professional steamer that would be used for fine fabrics that would eliminate any creases.
- If you any sensitivity to detergents and require hypoallergenic products, is that option available and is there an additional cost?
- If you have household items to be dry cleaned or pressed, for example bed linens, ensure they give you the price for wash and press or the option to press only.
Personally, since my unfortunate incident with my dress being damaged, I now use two different dry cleaners. The one does the majority of our garments that require dry cleaning and the other is strictly for the “special pieces”. Yes, the second is at a higher price point, but they understand investment pieces. I will not lose yet another fabulous treasure!
Good luck in your search!