One of the biggest, if not the biggest mistake people make with their fine clothing is to clean it too often.
Think of it this way: your hair can become weakened when exposed to too many cleaners and chemicals so doesn’t it stand to reason that fabric made from animal hair and other types of natural fibers does as well.
At Savile Row we have always recommended dry cleaning as the best way to freshen fine fabrics whether in suits, sport coats, pants or shirts.
However, it must be done in moderation and with dry cleaners who specialize in cleaning fine fabrics. Our friends at Loro Piana put together an excellent booklet many years ago and the concepts and recommendations are as good now as they were then. Let’s hit some of the highlights.
Freshening clothes does not require dry cleaning.
With a few simple tools you can take a wrinkled suit jacket and pants and have them looking almost like new by simply giving them some breathing room.
- Invest in quality hangers. Wooden hangers with formed shoulders and wooden pinchers for the pants are the best. Hang your suit or sport coat in an area where it can breathe.
- Enlist your bathroom for help. If you have excessive wrinkling, fill your bathroom with steam from the shower (be sure to keep the door closed) and let the moisture relax the wrinkles. Check frequently to make sure the fabric is not becoming soaked. Then let it air dry.
- Brush after each use. Tailors use this method, which is an excellent way to remove dust and dirt. We like horse hair brushes.
Stains must be addressed quickly.
Here’s another major mistake: using water or club soda to soak the stain. While it may appear to dilute the stain it actually is helping the stain set into the fabric.
This is where a trusted dry cleaner can be your friend. They will know exactly what kind of chemical or cleaner can be used. While they will never be 100% effective, their odds of success are much higher than yours.
We tell customers to not try to do it yourself at home. However, if you can’t help yourself, lightly blot the stain with a white paper towel or cloth to absorb any excess stain. Never press or rub the fabric.
The closet can be the worst enemy of your clothes.
As we mentioned earlier, letting your clothes breathe is paramount, whether in or out of the closet.
The first place to start is with quality hangers. A wooden hanger with formed shoulders is ideal, but there are plastic hangers that can be effective.
Other items such as sweaters and shirts should not be stored in plastic. While it keeps dust out, it also keeps most of the air out.
Never hang clothing in your closet that has been exposed to harsh environments, like smoke from cigars. Hang the garment outside of the closet until the odor is gone.
And last but not least, defend your closet against pests, specifically moths. Moths love natural fibers and they really love natural fabrics with food stains. There are a few good ways to combat these pests with our favorite being cedar wood and camphor located strategically throughout the closet. Moth balls work well but their smell lingers in fine fabrics.