Linen shirts and minty mojitos
How to Look After Your Suit
When you buy a good suit you know you will have to look after it but what do you really need to do to keep it fresh, clean and radiant, wear-after-wear? The answer is not: “Keep taking it to the dry-cleaners.”
A suit needs a break. Being made of natural fibres it will stretch if used repeatedly. So, wear your suit no more than twice a week. This will allow the suit to air and regain its shape between outings. Also consider buying an extra pair of trousers. They are the first things to show signs of wear, especially if you’re a desk-bound office worker; another pair can balance aging out.
Purchase a good quality suit brush to use before and after wear to remove dust and dirt, which prevents smells and increases the longevity of the suit. Always brush down and never perpendicular to the fibres. Generally, using a brush is better than a lint roller because it doesn’t pull out fabric and can be used forever.
Most good suits are made from natural fibres and so a suit needs time to breathe: a simple aeration for a couple of hours to release odours and let the creases drop out, preferably somewhere clean, bright and airy, …
If there are stains from food particles or aerating didn’t quite get rid of the ‘office sweats’ smell don’t panic - most stains, marks and smells will come out with a simple spot clean. Marseille soap, a naturally anti-bacterial detergent can be applied with warm water and lightly scrubbed with a cloth in the area of the odour/stain.
Travel Tip: Chemical free baby wipes are also a good solution when you’re on the go.
You should never iron a suit except when trying to remove stubborn creases (at the back of the knee for example) but even then place a damp tea towel on the cloth – do not iron directly. However, often steam alone will help release creases and odours alike, set your iron to steam and hold below the jacket.
Travel Tip: Hang your suit in the bathroom when you shower. This will give the suit a gentle steam that simulates a good steamer, and will help to deal with any creases and odours.
Cleaning takes a bit of the suit’s soul with it so leave until it is absolutely necessary, i.e. stains you cannot brush or spot clean out, or a persistent smell. If you do want to dry-clean your suit, find a trusted specialist and make sure you tell them exactly what your suit is made from. The internal care label will tell you all you need to know about the fabric composition. Try to dry clean a suit no more than three times a year. Choose a dry-cleaner that washes on the premises, since they will have more flexibility and agency over the process. Always ask for ironing by hand, it produces a better crease line and is more forgiving on the fabric than a machine press. Ask them to avoid stiffening solvents; it can artificially tamper with the structure of a softer shouldered suit, so it is best avoided.
Hang your suit up as soon as you get home.
Avoid using internal and external pockets to keep the shape.
If you want to be pedantic, a cotton based suit carrier is perfect for home storage since it is breathable and keeps dust off. Hang it in the suit bag with the zip left open. This will keep the dust off especially for wool suits, while letting the fabric breathe.
Travel Tip: try a nylon or polyester suit carrier for travel since it is much more lightweight than cotton.
Invest in wooden hangers with a wide shoulder to help keep the shape of the suit. Preferably make it cedar wood since it acts as a natural repellent to moths.
Don’t hang on the back of a chair at the office.
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