You spend so much money on your first great suit, so there’s no worse feeling than seeing it fall apart before your own eyes. Careful care can help you prevent this fate, but so few people are really aware of just what is involved in suit maintenance. Like polishing your shoes, or learning to shave properly, or how to tie a bow tie, it’s become part of that lost esoteric knowledge of men.
A suit that’s been cared for properly can outlive the man who bought it, making proper suit care not just a matter of style, but economy as well. The small rules that make up suit care are simple, take only a bit of time, and add years to your suit. So before you send that three piece off to the cleaners, take a look at EveryGuyed’s Suit Care Tips and be sure that suit needs it.
Buying Your Suits
The suit you buy will inevitably dictate its quality, and its lifespan. A high thread-count wool like a Super 150, is thinner and lighter, but is much more fragile. A finer wool suit is an undeniable luxury, but it wears out much quicker than coarser wool. Keep this in mind when you’re trying on that new Canali: it fits like a dream, but can you afford to keep having it pressed every other week? The more expensive the suit, the more essential, and costly it’s upkeep.
Storing Your Suits
Keep your suits in a place where they can breathe. Be aware that keeping a suit in an airtight bag for storage might seem like a good idea, but don’t be surprised to find mold or even moths eating at your favorite blazer. If you’ve got a suit bag, some recommend leaving the zip open a bit to let air in and out. And of course, always keep your suits hung upright on a suit hanger. Cedar wood hangers also work as repellants for predators such as moths, and absorb moisture.
Moths are a real danger, and often times, once you’ve spotted them, it’s too late. Moths lay around one hundred eggs, and once they hatch, the little jerks are going to be hungry. Needless to say this is a virtual death sentence on a suit.
Though some advocate mothballs as a prevention method, the smell is unpleasant, and they only work in a sealed enclosure, like a suit bag. Dried lavender leaves sealed in pouches and kept in pockets repel moths just as effectively without the same drawbacks. Barring this, cleaning your closet and vacuuming the space regularly will work wonders.
Wearing Your Suits
Even when you wear your suits, there are things you can constantly do to keep them from wearing out. Don’t wear the same suit two days in a row, as clothing typically needs at least a day of rest to breathe, just like shoes. Hang them up as soon as you’re done wearing them, and don’t be afraid to lay a napkin across your lap to keep yourself safe from stains at meals. These common sense clothing rules can extend the life of a suit by years: clean dirt or stains; avoid moisture and undue stress on the material, especially at the pockets or buttons.
Pressing and Cleaning Your Suits
There’s a perception that if your suit gets dirty or wrinkled, you need to have it cleaned. It’s absolute nonsense. Dry-cleaning should only happen when your suit gets irrecoverably dirty, and some purists have their suits cleaned as little as once a season.
The chemicals involved in dry cleaning can wear out the wool, and if your suit is just a bit wrinkly, and not dirty, they should simply be pressed rather than dry-cleaned. The suit will come back from the cleaners just as crisp, but without having been subjected to the same chemicals.
Some suit enthusiasts also invest in a trouser press, a machine that gently and automatically presses suit pants. Though it sounds like something sold late at night on QVC, the trouser press is a time tested method of clothing care that’s stood up to fifty years of scrutiny and use.
As for the rest, there’s nothing that says you need a dry cleaner. Small stains can be steamed out with a hand-steamer, or brushed out with a good, stiff suit brush. Stains happen, but if you’re carrying two lattes while digging for your subway fare, you’re pretty much taunting disaster. Carefully minded common sense often equals a cleaner suit.
Suit care is simple, if you just follow some common sense rules about it.
- The Wool: Finer wool has the drawback of wearing out faster, and showing age quicker.
- Storage: Always on a hanger, always upright in a closet. Give them plenty of air, and always check for…
- Moths: Dried lavender leaves and cedar wood hangers help a great deal. Mothballs are a time-tested method, but have their own drawbacks.
- Day-to-Day Wear: Give your suits at least a day of rest after each wearing, and just be careful.
- Pressing: Suits can be pressed if they get wrinkled; though a hand held clothes steamer and trouser press do a good enough job for day-to-day wear.
- Cleaning: A clothes brush and hand steamer will do for many stains. Only have you suits cleaned when absolutely necessary.
Have some suit care secrets? Have you got suggestions on how to win the war against moths? Use the comments box below to share your secrets with the EveryGuyed community!
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I live in the Caribbean and use Bay Leaves to keep away moths and other insects from clothing. Put them in cupboards, wardrobes, drawers, etc and the smell is nothing like mothballs. Works great! Oh, Bay leaves I think are also called Laurel leaves? Not sure about that though.