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Do 1950's knit dresses usually smell?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by apples, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. apples

    apples Registered Guest

    I recently acquired two 1950's beaded knit dresses (from different sources) and noticed that they both have the same odd smell to them. This isnt the typical vintage smell. Its more like a very strong, odd chemical smell. I thought maybe it came from decades of dry cleaning chemicals. I ended up hand washing one of the dresses (yeah I know, bad idea) and it actually turned out perfect. It looks so clean and the most of the smell is gone.

    The other dress is the one that smells the worst. Its so pungent that I dont think a dry clean will be enough to help it, to the point were it wont bother the wearer. So im thinking about hand washing this one too. But now im thinking maybe the smell is some kind of chemical it was coated with to protect the fibers? Im thinking of putting this one up for sell so I dont want to strip it of its coating if thats what it is. When you guys buy vintage knit dresses do they usually stink?
  2. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Hi there,

    Could you please show us the dress in question? We might be able to tell you if washing would be safe for it.
  3. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Is it a gasoline-like smell? Some old dry cleaning fluids smell very gassy.. It could also be a DDT moth-proofing treatment... and sometimes there is a vinegary smell that off-gasses from rayon (or is it nylon... I can't remember at the moment), and a lot of 50s knits use blends. There could also be a rotten milk smell, which would be the material from which its made, although it would more likely be 40s when they made a yarn from milk solids.
    GemGem, Vintagiality and Midge like this.
  4. My 50s have never smelled, except for cedar closet type of smell. Unless they had mildew, that is another story.
    70s polyester always retains a smell, in m my opinion.

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