Stain removal: Charlie Wilson’s Dolce & Gabbana suit

Working in wardrobe & alterations means you’re going to come across stains, whether it be from makeup, sweat, or mystery spots from putting yourself at the mercy of a local dry cleaner. Aside from a little blind hem stitch repair on the pant cuff, this suit really didn’t need much TLC from my sewing machine – it needed some saving from stage makeup. Whether it was a meet-and-greet’er that got too close, or Charlie’s all-out dance routine that caused it, makeup isn’t something that goes well with Dolce. My mission was to restore it, without sacrificing the original signature color or texture.


All credit and high-fives go to E-Photo (@iamephoto). Dude takes incredible live photos every night and still manages to simultaneously create one of a kind LED displays for every artist you can think of.

There was a good bit of makeup around the neckline, the lapel, and the shoulders, and unfortunately, it was well-set in by the time I got to work a bit of magic on it. After trying various makeup remover wipes and cloths, we 14711590decided to give a home dry cleaning kit a shot, seeing as this is one of Charlie’s staple pieces.. and I needed a solution asap. We used a home dry cleaning kit by Dryel.. it looks like this ->

When you first open the kit, it’s a bit confusing (probably because I was stressed to get the makeup out already!) so here’s what we gathered.

The spray bottle is for blotting & removing stains.

The moist towelette is for throwing in the included garment bag with the garment and throwing the entire thing in the dryer. The towelette is for removing odors, not stains. Plus, you wouldn’t throw Dolce & Gabbana in the dryer anyway.. would you?

Test swatch

I tested the spray on the interior of the jacket to ensure no blue color would come off. I like to think that if it did, guys in really well-fitting black suits would show up from Dolce & Gabbana and cart me away in a black SUV to punish me for ruining this beautiful blue baby.  I sprayed it enough to saturate the interior piece of blue fabric and pressed a clean white paper napkin to the surface of the fabric, as if I was blotting away a stain. I gave it 20 minutes to dry and ensured no fabric coloring came off during the tester process. It didn’t.. woo! Now let’s see how it does on the stains..

Lapel and collar

Just because it didn’t ruin the inside doesn’t mean I’m in the clear yet. I wanted to be EXTRA careful that I wouldn’t be losing my job this day so instead of spraying Dolce all willy-nilly, I carefully saturated the interior collar where the first set makeup stains were. I got a fresh paper towel and pressed hard against the (now wet) stain. Although nothing came off on the towel, it seemed to remove some of the stain from the collar. Eddie and I set to work moving down the lapels, spraying like crazy and blotting with a fresh plain paper towel every time. Each time I lifted my paper towel and still saw makeup, I sprayed once again and pressed a fresh towel to it. This worked 80% of the time. I learned that if I sprayed 3x in the same spot, we’d start to see a little blue come off on the paper towel aka the POINT OF NO RETURN. So two good sprays = a happy stain-free Dolce & Gabbana.


With the lapels looking fresh and photo-ready, I set to work on the worst of the stains, and probably the most stressful, even though we knew the Dryel wouldn’t ruin the suit at this point. The reason being, we knew it wouldn’t ruin the suit, but what if it discolored the actual stain on the suit? What if the chemicals in it darkened the stain? What if the stain’s just gone into hiding until the steam hits it? What if it’s sleeping until the moment I relax and put it back on the rack and then it comes for me and my job and my dogs too?

I worked over the shoulders again and again, placing about 30-40 pounds of pressure on the initial spray/paper towel combo to pull out as much makeup as possible in the least amount of sprays. I found the best way to remove stains from expensive, delicate material like this was to work on it a little, then step back and let the piece air-dry to see where we were at, as opposed to spraying and pressing and spraying and pressing – because the less chemicals the better.

The end result? I think he’s happy with it.


Photo credit: John Russell/Bridgestone Arena

Thanks for letting me be part of the team, In It To Win It Tour! You guys are too kind, fun, and downright hilarious. ❤



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