Store items on quality hangers, and knitwear carefully folded with acid free tissue. NEVER use metal hangers. Padded hangers are best for older, delicate items.
Make sure that use a form of moth repellent when you store items. These can be purchased in the laundry department of many department stores, or supermarkets. There are plenty of natural, herbal repellants that are on sale.
Make sure that your items are not stored in a damp environment, and are kept out of direct sunlight.
Do not store items in plastic bags or covers as items need to breathe. Use cotton bags or even a cotton sheet instead.
Make sure that antique fabrics do not come into direct contact with wood or cardboard, as this can cause brown marks on the fabric.
As a rule, old perspiration marks are not easily removed. If you simply love the item and cannot bear the stains, consider whether the item could be re-lined (I have done this myself with a fabulous 1950's jacket; although it was a labour of love, I now have a clean and fully wearable jacket.)
Old stains can be problematic, but sometimes they will remove, and I have had several successes with this. However, bear in mind that there is no guarantee that a stain will come out.
Deal with new stains promptly to help avoid long term damage. If in doubt seek specialist advice.
I would advise that you seek specialist advice when trying to clean expensive, treasured, delicate or antique items. Later vintage items often have care labels which explains the best method of cleaning, but make sure that if the item is to be dry cleaned, that you take it to a cleaner who is used to handling vintage items. Some items will be suitable for hand washing (e.g. cotton dresses, woollen jumpers) or machine washing (e.g. polyester or crimpolene dresses). If your item has a label, make sure you read the instructions.
Check your items regularly for wear and tear. If there is an area that needs fixing, get it mended before it gets too bad. I had a panic when the amazing button (which was somewhat loose) came off my 1920's jacket, which resulted in a frantic search of shopping centre in case I had dropped it. Luckily it had fallen off in the car and I have learnt my lesson. It has now been sewn on very well!
As with cleaning, seek specialist advice for expensive or old items that require mending.
If on your travels, you find a bargain that has a zip that doesn't work, or a missing button, consider replacing the zip or buttons to make the item wearable again.
Quite often antique and vintage items have a certain smell. Whilst most vintage and antique collectors accept that there may be slight smells commensurate with age, some smells are overpowering an require intervention. This often includes the aroma of moth balls or smoke. There are many different methods suggested online to deal with these- I tend to seek specialist advice from my dry cleaner but have had success with placing items in a sealed bag with coffee beans and placing items in the freezer.
Please note that the tips on this page are my suggestions only, and I strongly suggest that you seek specialist advice if in any doubt. This is a lesson I have learnt through experience- there is nothing worse than damaging an item through inapproriate washing or mending!