Suits are the most important pieces of clothing a man can own and should be at the heart of your wardrobe. Being that suits are the ultimate in formal wear and business attire, and of course, sophistication, that means they require proper love, care, and attention. Since a good suit never goes out of style, one that’s been properly cared for can last for years. Plus, it’s economical for you to take proper care of your suits. The rules of proper suit care are easy and simple to follow to extend the life of your suit.
The type of suit you buy will inevitability dictate its lifespan. For example, a finer wool suit that is undeniably luxurious, such as a high thread-count wool like a Super 150, is thinner and lighter and thus more fragile, allowing it to wear out much more quickly than one made of a coarser wool. Keep the make of the suit in mind when you’re purchasing it if you plan on wearing and keeping the suit for a long time, especially if you’re making a hefty investment in it. Keep this is mind as well: The more expensive the suit, the longer it may last, but the more costly its upkeep will be.
Prevent wear and tear and stains
The first step to properly caring for your suit lies in your prevention efforts. Think about it: If you prevent food from getting on your suit and staining it, you won’t have to make the costly trip to the dry cleaners to have it removed. This means making sure you lay a napkin across your lap during meals and always looking before you sit to make sure nothing on your seat can damage your suit. Make sure before you wear and hang your suits that you use a very soft-bristled brush to brush away any loose lint or dirt from your suit to prevent particles from embedding themselves deep in the fabric. By employing this preventive measure, you’re keeping your suits looking crisp and new.
Additionally, when you first purchase your suit, make sure you’re purchasing the right size: “A tight suit will mean that unnecessary tension is put on the cloth and over time this may cause the fabric to wear thin or split. A simple seam split is fixable but highly embarrassing (especially if it makes a noise when it happens!),” Jolyon Bexon of Savile Row tailoring house Gieves and Hawkes said to Esquire.
Hanging and storing your suits
This is an extremely important part of the care process. Make sure to keep your suits in a place where they can breathe. First things first: Make sure your suits are always hung upright on a suit hanger. The best types of hangers for suits are cedar wood hangers, as they’re great repellents for predators such as moths, and also do a great job at absorbing excess moisture. It’s never a good idea to keep a suit stored in an airtight bag, which can be a breeding ground for mold or even moths to eat away at your favorite three-piece. If you do have a suit bag and would like to store it in there anyway, just make sure to leave the zip open a little to let air in and out.
When storing your suits, it’s important to consider the annoying moth factor that is a real and very present danger to your suits. Once you spot them, it’s too late. Instead of storing your suits with mothballs that tend to smell and only work if they’re sealed in an enclosure like a suit bag, try dried lavender leaves sealed in pouches and placed in your suit pockets, as a less smelly option. They work just as effectively without the same drawbacks. You also have the option of cleaning and vacuuming your closet space regularly to prevent moths from creeping in.
Wearing your suit
“As with your shoes and shirts, it is always advisable to have at least five good options, which you can rotate throughout the working week,” Bexon tells Esquire. This means that you shouldn’t be wearing the same suit two days in a row; clothing needs to rest and breathe too. It’s important to be aware of the elements, as well. If you know it’s going to rain or snow, make sure your suit is properly protected, be aware of where you sit and your surroundings, and as previously mentioned, make sure you lay a napkin across your lap to prevent stains from meals. Bexon also adds: “The outer side pockets of a suit should also never be opened. Keep them closed and the silhouette will always appear streamline and sharp, putting your hands or belongings in the outer pockets will make it look like a sack of potatoes, which is not a great look.”
Dry cleaning and pressing your suits
As a rule: Do not dry clean your suits unless it’s absolutely necessary. Your suit should not be taken to the dry cleaners more than three times over the course of the year, including one trip for emergencies, such as if you accidentally stain it. If you do happen to stain it and it’s a small stain, it can sometimes be steamed out with a hand-steamer or can even be brushed out gently. If you take proper preventive care with your suits, you won’t need to take them to the cleaners more than three times a year. To keep your suit fresh between cleanings, hang them in the bathroom during your shower, and then leave them to air out overnight. If you’re still stuck about how you should approach any kind of cleaning, your dry cleaner should be able to advise you on how to handle your suit care.
When it comes to pressing your suits, Bexon told Esquire to make sure you use a steam iron and also advised on how to handle pressing your suits: “Ultimately what I’m saying is that your suit is a beautiful object, which should be treated as such. Oh, and one last tip, press your suit regularly with a steam iron, this will open up the fibers and help remove stains — not to mention keeping it crease free.”