Hanger Damage and How To Avoid It

Hanger Damage and How To Avoid It

clothes on hangers

Hangers; the one thing we all have but don’t really think about. But a hanger is a hanger right? Oh no my friend! If you have seen my latest Tools of the Trade post on the socials you will know that not all hangers are created equal. Let’s refresh the basics:

damaged yellow dressWire – are evil, pure and simple. They rust, snag your clothes, create rips, are too thin to protect you garments. Never ever put these anywhere near your vintage, or you will be haunted by the ghost of vintage past. Fact. (1950s yellow dress shows rip damage to the shoulder and holes to the top of arm from being stored on a wire hanger).

Plastic – marginally better as they are wider than wire, but will still snag and damage your clothes thanks to the edges from the moulding process and easily snap.


damaged dress

Wooden – ‘but these are best right’. Well, they are sturdy which is a plus so they are well suited to heavy pieces like coats and suits. But for dresses and shirts they are not so good as they can cause damage to the shoulders from the oil in the wood, certainly from the unvarnished vintage ones. Over time with the change of temperature in your room, the wood will bleach and stain the shoulders creating irreversible damage. Only use on items with a lining. (1950s grey dress shows bleaching from a curved vintage wooden hanger)

damaged pink dress
Velvet – the cheapest, most easily attainable option, and what I use in the studio. They are covered in a smooth velvet feel coating which stops clothes falling off, limiting damage, and they will not leech colour onto the fabric. You can get wide versions for pieces that are more delicate and need more shoulder support. (1980s pink jumpsuit shows fade from a wooden hanger that was too narrow)

Fabric – the god tier of hangers. You can buy satin covered padded hangers which are great as they support your garment, will not damage them and look dead snazzy. They are also super expensive, so maybe keep for your most prized possessions. Or, go one step further and make some like they used to back in the days! (I have popped a how to link at the bottom of this blog)


Avoiding damage is just a matter of planning and care. Put in the work and your vintage will thank you for years to come. Throw out those cheap hangers and invest in some decent ones that will support your pieces, taking extra care for those delicate pieces. Here is a little check list to help:

damaged black dress

* Make sure the hangers are not too wide for your clothes, other wise this will put stress on the shoulders and the arm hole stitching. 

* If you are using an older wardrobe, they can be built smaller in depth so ensure that your clothes are not rubbing on the back wall otherwise this will cause holes on the top of the arms. (Damage to the 1920s silk dress shown is from being stored on a hanger that was too wide and rubbing on the wardrobe)

* Never hang your knitwear! Or if you have no choice, choose wider hangers and fold the sleeves up onto the shoulders to help with weight.

* For items like beaded dresses, or delicate fabrics like silk/chiffon that might have heavy embellishment to them, NEVER EVER HANG THEM ON HANGERS, even wooden ones. The weight will tear the fabric at the shoulders and pull the dress out of shape (looking furious at you Kim K's stylist team!)

* Don’t double up! Every piece should have its own hanger. (Damage to a 1950s lace suit, from a wooden hanger and having been crammed in a wardrobe, creating stretching and fade)

lace suit

* Skirts and trousers – those plastic adjustable springy ones are death to a waistband. They will stretch out the shape of the garment and stress seams. Use clippy hangers with wither rubber or velvet backed clips to prevent damage and slippage.

* Heavy trousers and skirts – fold them over a hanger if they keep falling off the other kind.

* If something keeps slipping off a hanger, pop an elastic band or hair tie to the end of each shoulder to give it stopper.

* If you invest in padded fabric hangers and your delicates slip off, sew a little ball button to each end for a high end fall prevention!

* Don’t cram your wardrobe – the more you shove in means the more you fight to get things out, which will cause damage. And moths LOVE dark crammed wardrobes……but that is a discussion for another blog!


Want to make your own covered hangers?
You can use pretty much any wooden hanger, and back in the day, they would use old cloth and fabric to pad, and old clothes and curtains to cover them, so that nothing was wasted. You can pick these vintage hangers up all the time in the charity shop. 
Click on the image to see the short easy video.
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