What to do with a destroyed silk shirt…

Aghhhh, I’m so rough on clothes. I wear all my good clothes. There’s no such thing as “too special to wear” in my closet. Once there was, but now there’s not. If I spend the time and energy to make something nice, I’m definitely going to be out there wearing it!

I wear all kinds of fibres, but in Summer, I’m particularly fond of linen and silk crepe de chine. Both of these are pretty hard-wearing. I machine wash and dry most of my clothes (because that is what one does in our neighbourhood). I try to avoid the dryer with my silks but reality means they always end up in there at some point. I’ve completely given up line-drying my kid’s silk garments and the three pairs of silk PJ pants that I own and wear day in, day out (here and here). Silk can be as tough as nails.

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So I got complacent. Well, I actually just wore my favourite shirt ALL THE TIME. What did I expect? A cotton shirt isn’t immune to the terror of the underarm deodorant stain, so why did I think my wonderful silk shirt would survive such daily wear? It was good while it lasted.

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As you can see below, the discolouration under the arms is beyond horrible. I hated the idea of throwing away all the good work I put into those plackets, and cuffs, and collar… so I decided to cut it away as much as I could (about 0.5 inches below the bottom armscye seam to be precise). I didn’t dare cut away anymore because I knew doing so would bring the armscye down too low. I cut away a bit more at the top shoulder seam so the sleeveless top would have a nice shape. My plan was to wear a nice, sporty bandeau style bra underneath and treat the low armscye as a design feature.

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I salvaged the bias binding from the undamaged portions of the sleeves. There’s still a tiny bit of stain at the bottom of the armscye but most of it was concealed with the binding. Otherwise, any remaining stain is mostly hidden by the natural position of my arm.

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It turned out that the low armscye wasn’t as bad as I expected. The most bra that could be seen in any of my photos was in this one. I can deal with this. Long live my revived silk Archer!

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11 thoughts on “What to do with a destroyed silk shirt…

  1. Yay for the save! I can’t stand those deodorant/sweat stains. I’m a sweat-er. Always have been. It’s why I simply can’t wear synthetic. I’m yet to find a way to avoid the dreaded staining other than to wear sleeveless or kimono type sleeves all the time… so I do LOL!

    1. Oh I hear you! I’ve been into shirts over the last year, but mostly layered with a sweater during winter, so whether they mark or not is irrelevant 😉 – when the collars start to fray that will be obvious though! Spring has exposed me. And don’t get me started on sunscreen and sunscreen stains – I hate the stuff even though I subject my kids to it daily. I wear a lightweight jacket when I’m in the sun (walking etc) to avoid sunscreen, but I do sweat like crazy. Can’t quite figure out which is the lesser evil, sweat of sunscreen…

    1. I really need to do this next time. My husband has been wearing T-shirts under his business shirts which extends the life of them significantly. I’m not quite prepared to do that, but a shield would work (and be sensible!). And perhaps I should stick to a darker colour that won’t show it up so much.

  2. I have kept my silk shirts from disintegrating in the underarms by spraying vinegar on the sweat spot when I take them off. Seems to neutralize the sweat and deodorant until they get washed. Glad your shirt has a second life!

    1. Thanks Sarah! I’m off to buy a spray bottle for my vinegar right now. I wonder if it will work for cotton shirts too. I know Napisan is no good for silk, but I’ve never found the equivalent here, that can soak out stains as tough as the armpit variety.

  3. This looks great. You’d never know that it wasn’t meant to be like that. I have a vintage silk man’s shirt that belongs to my Grandpa, which has similar staining (down to me as I wore it a lot in my teens!). This is a great idea for how to deal with that. Although it has a frayed collar too.

    1. Thanks so much Helen! I’ve seen a lot of deliberately frayed collars in RTW this season, so now could be the perfect time to wear it ;-). Maybe you could also just remove the collar and sew up the collar band and leave it that way.

  4. Great save on the silk shirt! I use a mixture of water, baking soda, and peroxide. Mix only when you are ready to use it and then spray or pour it on the stain. I let it sit for a good hour and then wash like normal. no stain, no smell, all good as new! I do 2 parts water to 1 part soda and peroxide. Careful when you mix it up, it fizzes 🙂

    1. Thank you Kristin! How does that mix go with silk? I know someone who swears by dawn liquid + peroxide to get out make up stains etc from any neckline (she’s a clothing boutique owner so comes up against that quite a bit). I’m so wary of putting anything on silk for fear of destroying the fabric. I think my fear comes from a Napisan + silk destruction years ago…

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