Fashion Love Stores: Iconic Outfits and The Care that Went into Each

marilyn monroe in iconic white dress in the move the seven year itch

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It’s hard to deny the impact fashion icons have on the zeitgeist of their times. The strongest fashion statements even seem to permeate human consciousness, influencing culture long after its origins are forgotten. Join us as we delve into our favorite fashion statements of the past century, many of which still resonate with modern audiences the world over.

Audrey Hepburn’s Little Black Dress in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’

Almost everyone today knows the phrase “little black dress,” and the sense of allure and mystique it evokes. Yet not as many know it has its origins in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the iconic 1961 film.

Audrey Hepburn’s sleeveless black satin dress is striking in its simplicity, even as its luxurious sheen reflects the “all-out” appetite for life of Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly. It’s a tongue-in-cheek nod to the film’s themes of escapist glamor, contrasted by the plain reality of losing one’s authenticity to grand aspirations.

The satin black dress, designed by Hubert de Givenchy, was inspired by Coco Chanel, but has certain aesthetic origins in the “roaring ’20s.” The dress actually appears very modest at first, nor is it that little, by today’s standards.

The open back line, however, hints that its painted-on, sleeveless design is primarily concerned with showing more form than strictly necessary — much how Golightly had a knack for threading her way through socialite circles without letting go of her cheeky free spirit.

A dress of this caliber raises several essential points of care:

  • Satin is almost always a hand wash-only garment
  • Preserving black satin’s characteristic “sheen,” and without dulling, requires minimal detergent and heat
  • When washing satin garments, be aware that it could be classic natural silk or synthetic polyester with unique requirements (the former must be treated with greater care)

Marilyn Monroe’s White Halter Dress From ‘The Seven Year Itch’

Who can forget the iconic ivory cocktail dress, and the fluttering waves it made in cinema history? It’s hard to decide whether Marilyn Monroe or the dress itself caught more attention during the classic “subway breeze” scene.

As for the dress, there’s some debate about its origins, but it’s generally credited with designer Willian Travilla. Although he downplayed its significance, once jeering that it was a “silly little dress,” it’s hard to believe he meant it.

The gown-like skirt and plunging neckline played knowingly with the sensibilities of the time, and the halter-like midsection almost harkened to idyllic times long past. It’s an incredibly unique blend of textures and shapes, which presents a number of care challenges that are just as unconventional.

For starters, its consistent off-white color creates a strict need to address any potential stain as quickly as possible. A single discoloration could ruin the initial modesty and class its flirtatious playfulness depends on.

What about the “aliveness” of the fabric? Most laundering methods don’t take into account the need for preserving the buoyancy of a fabric. Monroe’s white halter dress achieved its flamenco-esque vitality due to its rayon-acetate crepe fabric, at once light enough to move easily, but heavy enough to keep its momentum and draw the eyes.

As you might imagine, rayon-acetate crepe is almost always dry clean only.

Julia Roberts’ Scarlet Gown in ‘Pretty Woman’

Bringing life to the pauper-to-princess storybook romance, the scarlet red ball gown in ‘Pretty Woman’ marks the initiation of Julia Roberts’ character, Vivian, into high society. With equal parts flash and grace, it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off the dazzling color and texture, artfully matched with Roberts’ naturally red locks.

Marilyn Vance, the designer, was very conscious of the role wardrobe had in carrying the story forward. Like stepping into a movie herself, Vivian feels formidable pressure to adapt to the dress, while contending with a rush of imposter syndrome.

Eventually, she makes it all her own, turning heads and giving the sophisticates a run for their money. To us, it’s a beautiful reflection of how formal attire can help anyone step into their own starring role in life.

Of course, formal wear raises the bar on cleaning and care. A few tips can go a long way to enjoying a worry-free night at the theater or other high-society gathering:

  • Choose accessories that won’t snag or rub along the fabric
  • Apply any beauty products in advance, letting them completely dry before donning your gown
  • Gently brush the fabric to remove dust, hair, and other light debris
  • If you do spill something, simply blot it with a clean white cloth and refrain from rubbing it
  • Allow formal attire to air dry before storing it in a cool, dry, and dark place using a breathable garment bag

Steve Jobs’ Signature Black Turtleneck

Despite its basic appearance, Steve Jobs’ signature black turtlenecks were actually a custom product specially commissioned from iconic Japanese designer, Issey Miyake.

Jobs originally wanted Miyake to create a kind of “uniform” for Apple employees, based on Miyake’s work instilling a sense of pride among Sony employees shortly after World War II. The idea didn’t go over well with Apple employees, but it inspired Jobs to adopt something of his own uniform — so he ordered about 100 of Miyake’s custom black turtlenecks.

Miyake had developed an innovative technique for creating permanent pleats, an innovation that’s affected the fashion industry as a whole. It’s much easier than maintaining pleats the traditional way, which often depends on quickly laying out wet clothes before they have a chance to dry, or even ironing.

This is especially problematic for high-quality knit materials, like Jobs’ black turtlenecks were. The solution is to reduce reliance on machine washing. Fortunately, natural fibers are easy to keep clean through handwashing, and they don’t need frequent cleaning by regularly wearing an undershirt.

We recommend hand washing knitwear in cold water, using the gentlest possible detergent. For more stubborn stains, ask your trusted local dry cleaner for advice. Knitted natural fibers can easily shrink or lose their softness with improper handling.

Princess Diana’s Silk Royal Wedding Gown

Who can forget Princess Diana’s incredibly ornate royal wedding gown, complete with her Spencer-family 18th century tiara. A fashion icon through and through, Princess Diana was no stranger to the limelight. Of course, that light was no brighter than on her wedding day.

With her overflowing bouquet, the custom silk dress appeared floral in its own right, with a 25-foot train encircling her in long-since memorialized photographs. Interestingly, her wedding gown had to be sewn around Princess Diana to establish the perfect fit — the ultimate in custom wedding dress alterations (at least in our experience).

It’s no stretch to say her brief legacy, like the custom silk wedding gown, wove itself deeply in the public’s hearts. Perhaps something of her calm, demure grace and force of compassion lives on in weddings the world over, whenever a bride first sees herself in her white gown on that most special of days.

Like no other garment, wedding gowns must be painstakingly preserved. Before doing so, look for dirt along the dress’s bottom, especially where it may have deliberately touched the ground. Given the likelihood of tears, also seek signs of makeup smudges along the neckline and shoulders.

An experienced cleaner can lend you their expertise, detecting issues that may not be immediately visible to the untrained eye.

Elton John’s Endlessly Vibrant Stage Attire

Elton John has a reputation for going all in, and his wardrobe is no exception. A new and exciting stage costume is a major attraction at almost every public appearance, both on and off the stage.

Nearly all of Sir Elton’s iconic outfits combine a massive cross-section of unique materials, matching accessories, and vivid colors — from his feathered cloak on The Muppet Show to his all-leather outfit and sequin-studded jumpsuits galore.

Caring for a complex wardrobe and heavily accessorized uniforms means taking a fully custom approach to each item. Statement pieces are also usually one-of-a-kind, requiring nothing short of fully focused attention from your cleaning specialist.

James Dean’s Rebel Look Goes Viral

A pillar of bad boy culture, the black leather jacket became synonymous with counterculture after James Dean’s 1955 ‘Rebel Without a Cause.’ The simple and sleek motorcycle jacket actually has its origins in military garb, and being a veritable “second skin” made it a natural choice for bikers seeking added protection.

Legend has it, James Dean was wearing a leather jacket during his fateful crash, after which his stunt driver and friend salvaged it for safekeeping. Throughout cinema history and to this day, the leather jacket gives an immediate edge, with a devil-may-care attitude that’s as hard to pierce as it is to fake.

While it’s true leather goods have strict specialty care requirements, they aren’t hard to get the hang of. Once mastered, the following tips can easily preserve your leather clothes for many long years:

  • Avoid moisture, dabbing the leather dry as needed
  • Be clear about what type of leather you have — suede and nubuck, for example, have more stringent care requirements
  • Remove dirt and grime with a damp cloth and soapy water, and never immerse it in water directly
  • Apply cornstarch or baking powder to stains as soon after they occur as possible
  • Do not use the vast majority of home remedies for cleaning leather (especially nail varnish remover), and never run leather through a dryer
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for conditioning, typically involving specialty oils

What about leather jackets with cotton or polyester linings? While easy to clean themselves, it can be tricky applying the right cleaning methods to the lining and the exterior leather.

In such cases (and for particularly tough stains), entrust your leather jacket to the care of a professional cleaner. Be sure, however, that they don’t use methods that strip leather of its natural oils, which leads to cracking and discoloration.

Modern Fashion Icons and Influential Styles of Today

It’s always hard to say which fashions will endure the test of time. That’s even truer today, with more breadth in the fashion industry than ever. From Nicholas Hoult’s colorful take on tailor-fit menswear to Zooey Deschanel’s bright and fun girly style, there’s a highly expressive-yet-modest undercurrent affecting popular fashion today.

There also seems to be a resurgence of traditional natural fibers, along with some novel twists on old favorites. Linen, derived from the flax plant, is becoming more popular after a long, forgotten history clothing ancient Europeans. Consumers also seem less enthusiastic about petroleum-derived and other synthetic fabrics.

As fashion trends change, so too do garment care regimens. Looking your best means also maintaining your wardrobe to a higher standard. With natural fibers especially, be cautious of the possibility of shrinking your favorite garment, and consider alternatives to frequent machine washing and drying.

What Does Your Wardrobe Say to the World?

A bold fashion statement can leave a major lasting impression. In a single glance, your clothes speak volumes about your character and ideals. Leave a splash, and be sure your style says exactly what you intend.

Proper garment care is an essential, yet oft-forgotten aspect of maintaining an authentic style of your own. Since 2001, OXXO Cleaners that Care have handled every contemporary and classic clothing style imaginable.

Contact us for eco-friendly dry cleaning and specialty laundering expertise — and know that your fashion investments are in the best of hands.

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