How to Care for Your Suit

You know how you feel when you wear your new suit for the first time? You can't help but feel a few inches taller, smarter and more irresistibly handsome. You cut a dashing figure across the hallway, and you know it.

But within months, maybe even weeks, this once celebrated sartorial achievement becomes just another item in your wardrobe arsenal. Within a year or two, you notice it has started to lose a bit of its shape. A little worn maybe? The hallway compliments have long since stopped. In fact, you think to yourself it's probably time to buy a new suit. 

But what if you didn't need to buy a new suit? All it takes is some simple suit maintenance to bring life back to your suit, and save you some money on the side.


1. Brush Your Suit After Every Wear

Brushing your suit is the first habit that every man should learn to properly maintain his suit. By brushing away the remnants of the day, you restore the fabric and extend its life, and about three minutes is all it takes. 

Most suits are made from wool or a blend thereof. Wool is a magnet to dust, dandruff, loose hair and other tiny floating debris. As innocent as these little floaters appear, dust is actually an abrasive that will decay the fabric over time.

To properly brush your clothes you will need a decent quality clothes brush with natural bristles. Natural bristles have more give and brush into the fabric; whereas synthetic bristles can be too hard and may actually scratch the fabric.


2. Use a Broad, Well-Shaped Hanger

There are several reasons why a suit starts to lose shape and chief among them is an ill-fitting hanger. Using a broad, well-shaped wooden suit hanger will protect the suit from turning into a glorified hessian bag.

The purpose of a quality wooden hanger is to protect the silhouette of your suit, and to prevent creasing. The hanger should emulate one's natural profile (from the neck to the shoulder) to preserve the jacket's collar profile and drape.The shoulder flares should also be wide enough to protect the delicate moulding. Not all shoulders are the same, so selecting a hanger width to match your jacket size is critical.These important features will preserve the jacket's delicate mouldings and allow your jacket to drape naturally.

Don't forget the trouser bar—the best of which are extra-diameter felted bars. Clamps can damage the fabric and hard material such as wood will leave marks, whereas felt restricts movement of the draped trouser, allowing it to be stored for long periods of time without creasing.



3. Rest Your Suit - Air and Rotate

A suit endures a lot, including your sweat, the weather and wind. After a day of action your suit will need a bit of rest, and just like humans, a suit needs air.

Allowing the suit to air in a nice open space for several hours with a bit of light will evaporate any moisture and many lingering odours.

To give it the rest it needs, and as a general rule, a suit should never be worn on consecutive days. But as a travelling businessman knows, this isn’t always possible. In these instances, just remember that one day of wear is equal to one day of rest - and compensate accordingly.


4. Use Steam

Steam rejuvenates the fibres and is a most effective way to remove creases or any lingering odours that airing did not totally remove. A garment steamer works best, but simply hanging your suit in the bathroom while you shower is an easy, DIY alternative.

A caveat to using a garment steamer is to avoid excessive steaming of carefully pressed and ironed areas of the suit jacket, such as the chest area. Excessive steam in these areas may cause the suit to lose its shape. Once steamed, allow the suit to air for about fifteen minutes prior to wear.



5. Use a Garment Bag

Don't throw out the garment bag provided by your tailor - you've been given it for a reason. A breathable canvas or cloth suit bag will protect your suit against wardrobe dust and "fabric pests".

Fabric pests such as moths and carpet beetles will, along with their larva, make a meal out of your most cherished clothing.

Their refined taste for quality wool, mohair, cashmere, fur, feathers and down means the wardrobe of a well-dressed man is like a Michelin five star restaurant 'all you can eat'.

The best prevention against fabric pests is to use a garment bag along with small cedar blocks (cedar is a natural repellent) and regular vacuuming in and around the wardrobe area.


6. Quality, Professional Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning your suit too often will decrease its lifespan and give the fabric a shiny, listless look. This is because dry cleaning uses strong solvents and high drying temperatures during the cleaning process.

By brushing, airing, rotating, steaming (when required) and using a fit-for-purpose hanger, you will reduce the need to visit the dry cleaner as regularly as you think.

But this doesn't mean you should forgo the dry cleaners all together. Professional dry cleaners are vital for proper maintenance and rejuvenation of your most important garments.The best way to find a reputable dry cleaner is to ask your local tailor - they would not dare send their clients to a dry cleaner of disputable quality. It may cost you a little more, but appreciate that quality is the best bargain here.