25 July 2009

In Season

Subtitle this post "Perils of Thrifting 2" (see "Perils of Thrifting")

One day it's tweed, the next it's cotton madras, the bleeding kind, from India:

I picked this one up a few days ago. It was a good fit, but the white was looking a little bit yellow and dingy. But's it's cotton and not too structured, so I had a good feeling that a run through the machine with a bit of Oxy-Clean might brighten it up. I was right, but getting it wet brought out the stench of 10,000 cheap cigars smoked over 40 summers on Cape Cod. Now I like a good stogie on an occasional basis as much as any guy but damn, did this thing stink!


So I washed it again, but the offending smell was just unstoppable. So I did some home work and gave it another try. Wouldn't you know, our two old friends in the kitchen cabinet, baking soda:
sodium bicarbonate

and plain old distilled white vinegar:
acetic acid
make quite a handy pair when removing an old stench. I filled the kitchen sink with hot water, poured in a hefty helping of vinegar and a ton of baking soda, stirred with a wooden spoon to disolve the soda, then soaked the jacket in it for 3 1/2 hours. As for bleeding madras, the water turned the color of purple Kool-Aid, and the jacket gained this fantastic faded, almost denim-like quality. I hung it too dry overnight in the shower, then left it hanging outrsdie for 4 hours the next day. Things fresh as a diasy now.

You might think that's an awful lot of pain-in-the-a** trouble to go to for a crummy thrift store jacket, and you'd be right. But this kind of fading, bleeding old fashioned madras is getting hard to come by in the days of colorfast dyes and non-iron shirts, never mind in a three button sack cut. And when you do manage to find one new, they tend to cost a lot more than $7.49.


ADG said...

G. Great story....your Baptismal-Christening-Purging-Exorcising process makes mine seem like nothing.

And finally-I might be wrong-but bleeding madras is a thing of the past.It's my understaning that manufacturers and retailers don't want to deal with explaining the process to customers and risk a ton of returns to the store.

Andrew M. said...

I would have suggested the vinegar and baking soda, but you found it on your own. Once again, I am envious of your fancy Boston thrift stores.

P said...

Congratulations on the mad jackets - especially your "jacket stew" so to speak. The results is what counts and at 7.49 you're the winner all around. Enjoy the jacket. Wear it to church and see what happens.

All the best -- Paul

Anonymous said...

Totally worth the effort (easy for me to say - it was your effort!).

That Madras jacket will look great with jeans or chinos. They should sell Madras jackets as a kit with Topsiders and a Gin and Tonic. It begs for both!

Young Fogey said...

Great find and great cleaning tips. In addition to Oxy-Clean (a laundry staple in my household, where it keeps the kid's clothes free of stains, to say nothing of my shirts), I use and recommend Bac-Out. Available at health food stores, it's great for spot cleaning. I take a wee vial with me thrifting. That way I can try it on a potential find, to make sure the stains will come out (or are at least likely to).

Dhr. DeLuxe said...

I remove stench by spraying my thrift store clothes with a mixture of 2 parts water and one part wodka.
Works great!

Patrick said...

Nice job. In my case, I am polluting my jackets with my own cigar smoke, so it's not as irritating.

My big ol' Whirlpool steamer takes care of almost everything anyway.

Nellie said...

Just discovered your blog at work. Read all the way to December (bad-ass or bad employee?) and I relished every word.

All I can say is, if you can find any 19 or 20 year olds who are basically you--penchant for dressing well, appreciation of Trad style, gets along well with kids, musically talented, loves jazz AND punk rock (full disclosure: I, too, am a former punk rocker, all cleaned up, but still love the sound of Minor Threat or Richard Hell... on vinyl of course), enjoys cooking and earnestly wishes he were born a few decades earlier--except younger and single, please give me a call.

Wonderful blog, such a joy to read and follow, and so stylistically inspiring. Even though I'm a 19 year old girl who loves her sundresses, heels and pearls, few things are as fascinating to me as menswear. I probably know more rules of men's dress than I do of females. Alas.

Can't wait to read more.

Also, what are your thoughts on seersucker? I haven't seen any on your blog.

Giuseppe said...


I'm blushing. Next twenty year old family loving ex-punk in a bowtie that I meet, he's yours.

I love seersucker, just don't own any. Nevr seems to turn up cheap. I think it gets worn out before it gets donated, probably.