Suit Maintenance: How To Keep Your Suit Looking Great for a Decade
Without proper care, all of those dollars you spent on nice custom fitting garments will all go to waste. The below advice should help you keep your garments looking nice and fresh for years.
If you don’t know how to care for your garments, you’re either Mr. Money Bags, which my hat goes off to you, or you are just reckless with your money.
Suit Care Basics
Dirt particles are like little hitchhikers. You know those little travelers that will catch on to your jeans & socks when you’re walking through the woods?
If you look at a dirt particle under a microscope, you’ll see they have these little hooks which attach to the cloth fiber. And when you clean a garment, you’re not gently unhooking these dirt particles from the cloth, you are essentially tearing them away.
Over time, these micro-tears on the fibers of the garments will wear the fabric down. This is why it is important to limit the amount of times you take a garment to the dry cleaner throughout the year. We at 1701 recommend taking your suit to the dry cleaner no more than 2-3 times annually.
However, if you get a stain or it starts to smell, take it in right away!
Ever notice that your forearm may sweat but it doesn’t smell like your armpit? That’s because there are two types of sweat glands in your body; one that secretes just a typical water & salt mixture to cool your body, and the other type, apocrine glands, which produce an oily compound onto your skin. Bacteria that naturally lives on your body will then consume this compound, and the result is the bad smell.
When you sweat on your garment, the bacteria on your skin goes right along with it, effectively making a little bacteria colony on your garment. This colony can be removed, but frankly, most dry-cleaning companies do not have the incentive to spend the proper amount of time necessary to fully remove a smell.
So if it starts to smell, take it in!
Keep in mind: you are way more likely to destroy a garment through sweat or through abrasion than you are to destroy a garment through normal dry-cleaning.
Often-times, when you get a stain on your garment, your immediate reaction is to do something. But that something you do very well could be the WRONG thing to do. So what should you do if you just dropped some sauce on yourself? Use a napkin to blot the stain; don’t rub or scrub, just blot.
Then, take it to your cleaner in the next day, tell them what happened (oil or water is good for them to know) and show them the location of the stain.
That’s it. Don’t try to fix it yourself because depending on what kind of stain it is, your “help” can actually make things worse.
As with all things, you can really fall down the rabbit hole of maintaining your garments, but these tips should give you the basics as to how to keep your suit looking great for a decade or more.
Let’s say your suit doesn’t stink and you don’t have any stains on it but it’s looking a little worse for wear. One thing you can try is taking to a dry cleaner to be hand pressed.
The goal of a pressing is to restore the shape of the garment that the tailor intended. When a suit is created, there is a lot of iron work that is used to give the fabric shape and drape. Overtime, the fabric will loosen up, so a good pressing can make a huge impact on the look of a suit.
Word of advice: You want to make sure they are hand-pressing it and not just machine pressing.
The truth of the matter is a lot of dry cleaners have no idea what they are doing. There are videos online that you can see of dry cleaners showing their process, and that process happens to ruin jackets.
If you take your 1701 jacket to the corner dry-cleaner that doesn’t take care of their garments, they will essentially put your jacket in a high pressure press and flatten out the beautiful lapel roll among other things, so the 1701 advice is not to take your garments to a dry cleaner that doesn’t hand press.
Aside from cleaning and hand-pressing when necessary, the last thing you need to keep in mind is not to over wear your suit (multiple days in a row) as the fibers of a suit need time to relax and breathe. When not wearing your suit, be sure to store it on a wide-shouldered hanger in order to maintain the proper shoulder shape.
Lastly, if something does happen, don’t beat yourself up! Chances are the resilient fibers in your suit will be able to bounce back and keep on serving you well for many years to come.