Your tailored suit is an investment piece that can be a core part of your wardrobe.
When you first put on a newly made tailored suit, you feel confident and well-dressed. People probably compliment you on your sharp appearance.
As time goes on though, it would be nice to keep that suit looking its best. Not only do you stay looking sharp, but you can prolong the life of your suit. Here are a few tips for making a tailored suit last:
Always hang and air out your suit
A suit should be hung on a quality, wooden coat hanger and aired out to keep it fresh and free of creases. If you’ve invested in a tailored suit, you definitely shouldn’t go cheap with the hanger! Good wooden hangers, wide enough to reach the ends of the shoulders help to keep the suit in shape and avoid any snags.
While some people get their suits dry cleaned week after week, this will quickly shorten the life of your suit. The dry cleaning chemicals start to wear away at the natural fibers.
A rule of thumb that many tailors suggest is to give your suit the sniff test. If it smells a bit ripe, definitely take it to the dry cleaners but if not, it’s probably fine with a good airing and any necessary spot cleaning. A little water and a soft towel will usually help you to spot clean any small stains. Also, pressing a suit instead of cleaning, is a good option.
If you’re storing your suit for a longer period (such as summer or winter-weight suits out of season), use a good quality, breathable suit bag to store it. This will keep lint off and moths away while avoiding a “stored” smell.
Don’t weigh down your pockets
If you’re in the habit of weighing down your pockets with an excessive inventory, it will take a toll on your suit. Weighty pockets quickly start to pull and stretch, possibly altering the profile of your suit.
Stick to the basics, or carry what you need in a satchel or briefcase. Your suit will love you for it longer!
Avoid the iron
You’re going to have wrinkles in your suit at some point, but how you manage them can either prolong or shorten the life of the suit. Ironing should be avoided if at all possible. All sorts of things can go wrong with ironing – for example a dry iron can leave a sheen on your suit or an iron that’s too hot could burn it. Excessive heat and pressure can also distort the lining of your suit, meaning it never looks the same again.
The best method is to steam the wrinkles from your suit. A steamer for home use is quite inexpensive these days, or you can hang your suit in the bathroom while showering. Alternatively, there are wrinkle release sprays that are safe to use.
If you’re getting your suit dry cleaned, they will usually press it too. However, they use professional equipment operated by people with experience. Or, just ask them to press the garment that needs it.
Be careful about storage
At the end of the day when you get home and want to relax, taking a few minutes to carefully hang your suit is another step that can prolong its life. Leaving suits draped over beds or chairs, or even in a pile on the floor causes them to gather more wrinkles. Of course, you also run the risk of dust or dirt transferring to your suit from other surfaces.
Hanging helps to not only keep your suit in good shape, but to air out any smells or dampness too. Storage should be in a clean, dry place, out of direct sunlight. This helps you to avoid mustiness or fading.
Rotate what you wear
Just like any other clothing, your tailored suit will last longer if you’re able to give it a break in the clothing rotation. A few ideas to do so during your work week include;
- Wear a different jacket with your dress pants if possible
- Have at least two pairs of matching dress pants
- Have two tailored suits that you can rotate
- Partake in casual Fridays if your company has them and wear business casual
Your suit needs a break sometimes to keep it at its best. It’s the same for wear and tear on anything.
Care in between cleans
Give your suit regular brushing with a good-quality suit brush. This helps to remove dust and restore the natural luster of the fibers of your suit. You could do this in conjunction with using a lint roller to capture any stray bits of fur or lint. We recommend carrying a small lint roller with you to work so that you can give your suit a quick sprucing whenever needed.
If your suit smells like smoke or food, try hanging it outside for a couple of hours before you rush to the dry cleaners. This is often enough to air the smell out and prolong the time between dry cleans. (Remember, you want to avoid dry cleaning too often!)
What about those times where a little food, drink, mud or other staining substance ends up on your suit? First of all, there are different treatments for different types of stains, so ensure you’re taking the right steps for the offending spillage. Secondly, time is always of the essence – prompt treatment is your best chance at successful stain removal. Thirdly, if it’s a major stain, now is the time to head to your professional dry cleaners.
Here are a few tips:
- Try water first. If you’re unsure as to what the source of the stain is or if it hasn’t yet set in, blotting with water and a washcloth or towel is generally a safe first step.
- Remove the stain by blotting it up rather than scrubbing at it. Scrubbing can grind the stain further into the fabric.
- Avoid being near heat (heating vents, fireplaces, sunny areas etc.) while you’re removing the stain. Heat helps stains to set in.
- Test any stain removing products on the interior of your suit first, rather than immediately on the front. If you’re using a stronger stain-removing product, the idea is to check that it doesn’t harm the fabric by trying on a discreet area.
- Avoid hot water on wool suits. Hot water can damage the properties of the wool.
The table below shows some common stains and treatments:
|White wine||Cold water|
|Red wine||Denatured alcohol followed by white vinegar|
|Grease stains||Dry cleaning fluid or an absorbent powder such as baking soda or cornstarch|
|Grass, meat or egg stains||Clear dishwashing detergent or an enzyme cleaner|
|Juice or vegetables||One part white vinegar with three parts of water|
|Lipstick||Dry cleaning fluid followed by white vinegar|
|Sauces||Dry cleaning fluid followed by white vinegar|
|Ballpoint ink||Glycerin followed by clear dishwashing liquid and water|
|Mud||Dishwashing detergent followed by white vinegar.|
As an added tip, for any stain that is “gloopy”, such as a splatter of ketchup, gently work a plastic spoon from the outside of the stain to the center first, to remove any excess.
Pack properly when traveling
Travel can be hard on your clothing, so packing it properly to maintain shape and avoid too much creasing is a must. When traveling, use a garment bag wherever possible to keep your suit in shape.
Sometimes it may not be practical to carry a garment bag, in which case gently rolling your suit into your suitcase can help to keep it free of creases. Once you reach your destination, hang it up in the bathroom for a gentle steaming while you shower.
Your tailored suit represents an investment of time and money and should be looked after well. You can make it last longer by taking a few steps to care for it.
While it may be tempting to deliver it to the dry cleaners every week, remember that dry cleaning in the long term will shorten the life of your suit. The fibers are impacted by the cleaning process and it causes wear and tear.
You can often get more wear out of your suit by airing, brushing, lint rolling and spot cleaning as necessary. Always note the care instructions for your suit and ask the advice of your tailor when in doubt!