Caring for Your Suits

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Cleaning and care of clothing is something that men need to learn once they start to make it on their own. While separating whites from colours in the washing machine and how to iron shirts are something most guys pick up on very quickly, caring for suits is another matter entirely. Don’t be the guy who spends a fortune on bespoke suits from his tailor, only to have them picking up dust on the laundry hamper (or, worse yet, crumpled on his couch). Here’s our quick guide on caring for one of the best investments a man can make.

 

Photo: Mr. Porter


Buy a Good Suit

Cheap suits go to the dogs regardless of how much you care for them. Even if you’re meticulous with how you wear them, regular wear and tear can take apart seams machined together on cheap looms and leave you looking like a mess. Putting a decent investment in up front, and taking care of that investment, makes a huge difference. If you only wear suits when the occasion calls for it, try to invest at least $700 in a well-made off-the-rack suit, or go bespoke if you’re comfortable dropping over a thousand bucks. If you’re trying to budget for several suits, aim for no less than $400.
 
 

Storage
Always, always, always keep your suits stored upright on a suit hanger. It’s not a coat hanger: it looks wider and bulges at the ends to accommodate for the shape of suit shoulders. Try not to keep them in suit bags, which contribute to the musty smell old suits can get. Moths can be a problem with wool suits, so be aware of any potential pest problems you may have. Mothballs are talked about often, but only work in closed, airtight environments. So unless you’re vacuum-sealing your suit, it’s not doing a great deal of good anyway. Try lavender or bay leaves, which are both said to naturally repel moths.

 

Photo: Kheel Center, Cornell University/Creative Commons


Pressing and Ironing
If a suit looks wrinkled, many a self-appointed expert will say it needs to be taken to get dry cleaned. They’re only half right. After it’s dry cleaned, the cleaners will press the suit, to remove wrinkles and restore it to its natural shape. If your suit is clean enough as is, and just needs a pressing, take it in and ask for it only to be pressed—not dry cleaned. Cheaper, faster and saves everyone a bit of trouble. As for suit trousers? Ironing them at home works just as well in a pinch, though it’s not recommended to do this on a jacket—some cheaper suits use glue to fuse parts of the jacket together, which can easily melt under heat.

 
 

Cleaning
The most obvious cleaning option that most guys opt for is dry cleaning, but this is a quick way to get a suit worn to pieces. Dry cleaning can be a rough routine on a suit and slowly start to wear it out. If you’re getting suits cleaned weekly, you’re looking at not only a huge dry cleaning bill, but a lot of extra strain on the fabric. Small stains can usually be brushed off with a stiff suit brush, while larger, more problematic stains are really the only ones that warrant a trip to a dry cleaner. Dry cleaning should not ordinarily happen more than once a season (unless you need to get some lipstick off that collar).

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