So you have acquired a variety of quality pieces for your wardrobe and now have a closet you can be proud to open each morning. Alas, your work isn’t done; one of the most neglected aspects of fashion is caring for and protecting one’s investments. Anyone can purchase expensive pieces, but few take care of them properly. Where is the logic in spending the money on a piece that is supposed to last a decade if you allow it to deteriorate after one season? Where is the pride in that? By properly protecting your pieces they not only look their best, but they will also last much longer. In this series, we will put forth the best practices, as well as several tips and tricks we have learned when it comes to extending the life of your garments.
Dry Cleaning = Your Best and Worst Friend - On one hand, dry cleaning is the cheapest and most convenient ways to clean and crisp garments. On the other hand, it is also potentially one of the harshest ways to clean your garments. Dry cleaning involves high temperatures and harsh chemicals, neither of which are good bedfellows with fine fabrics. These two characteristics cause the fabric to deteriorate quickly, causing them to look more worn out than they really are.
Spare the Trip to the Dry Cleaner - When it comes to suits, excessive dry cleaning can break down the construction, especially in fused suits, resulting in imperfections. As a result, we recommend only dry cleaning when strictly necessary. Now, we’re not saying to avoid the dry cleaner, just be conscious of how many trips you make.
The Washing Machine is Your Friend - Especially with dress shirts and button downs, one of the best ways to safely clean these pieces is with cold water, the delicate setting on your washing machine, and air-drying. These practices are easy on fabrics and help to protect their fit (no shrinking). To get the wrinkles out, an old fashion iron is your best bet.
Mind the Tags - While the principles above generally work well, always take a look at the tags for recommended wash settings before washing. This is important because every fabric reacts differently to washing and drying. The last thing you want is to shrink that brand new cashmere sweater three sizes because you washed it improperly.
Don’t Put Denim in the Dryer - These are like water and oil, they just do not mix. The only time this is acceptable is when you are washing that raggedy pair of American Eagle jeans from college. The dryer not only dulls the wash of the jeans, but it can also make them tighter than your girlfriend’s pair due to shrinking. To avoid this, we recommend hanging your jeans and other pants out to dry.
Invest in Your Hangers - Instead of using those 1-cent metal hangers you get from your dry cleaner, take a look at wood hangers. Not only do they make your closet look a hell of a lot better, but they keep your threads in better shape. This is especially important for suit jackets, a jacket hanger will properly support the shoulders so they keep their shape. The hangers from the Container Store are excellent and well priced. Check them out, they have a wide selection of wood hangers available in different finishes and sizes.
Take the Time to Fold - I know, folding laundry is the most mind-numbing thing in this world, but it makes a big difference and is well worth the effort. Clothes will keep their crease longer and will resist wrinkles. This means fewer trips and less money spent at the dry cleaner.
For the Business Travelers - When it comes time to pack up your suitcase, properly folding your garments makes a huge difference. The last thing anyone wants to do is show up to the meeting they flew in for with a wrinkled dress shirt. Also, when you settle into your hotel room, unpack your clothes and hang them up. Leaving them squashed in your overhead carry-on doesn’t do them any good.
Collar stays are the unsung heroes of dress shirts, always use them. They keep your collars crisp, clean, and looking their best. Just remember to take them out whenever you wash your shirts.
Use a suit brush now and again. They are used to get the everyday dirt, dust, and grime out that has settled in your suits fabric.
When hanging up suits, keep the zippers unzipped and the buttons unbuttoned. This allows the suit to rest and prevents it from buckling.
Have a home remedy or trade secret for keeping your garments in tip-top shape? Join the conversation and stay tuned for more articles on protecting your investments.