Storing Heavy Leather Jackets

In the past year or so, I’ve come to appreciate the value of good hangers. Suit jackets and sport coats have complex constructions, and improper hangers can warp and shift some of the material that goes into the shoulders (thus ruining not only your jacket’s silhouette, but also how it fits). I say that not because our advertiser The Hanger Project sells fancy hangers, but because a well-respected English tailor confirmed this for me two years ago, and Jeffery at Tutto Fatto a Mano said the same thing (Jeffery’s a tailor, a professional pattern maker for a large suit manufacturer, and one of the more fair-minded guys I know when it comes to clothing). 

How you store leather jackets is just as important. As I’ve mentioned, most leather jackets are made from lambskin, goatskin, horsehide, or cowhide. Generally speaking, the first two will be lighter in weight than the second two. Of course, you can thin any leather down to whatever thickness you wish, so it’s possible to have a lightweight horsehide jacket, but it’s rare. Most cowhide and horsehide jackets are quite heavy.

If you have such a jacket, storing it on a thin hanger can also ruin the shoulders. The weight of the leather will pull the garment down, and over the course of years, can stretch out and crack the shoulder line. Thus, some leather jacket enthusiasts recommend using hangers with wide moulded shoulders. I really like The Hanger Project’s, again not because they’re our advertiser, but simply because their hangers are nicely made and come in a width that perfectly fits my jackets. In fact, I’m buying a dozen more from them next month. The only downside is that they’re expensive and a bit wide at 2.5”. The extra width gives more support, but it also takes up more room in your closet. You can get slightly more affordable hangers through Wooden Hangers USA, and slightly thinner hangers at Butler Luxury

Better yet, the other solution is to not hang your jacket up at all. If you have the room, you can lay your jacket down and just store it somewhere. This will ensure that nothing will get stretched out. 

For vintage shoppers, it’s good to pay attention to the shoulders when buying heavy leather jackets. Some of these have been sitting on the racks for years, jam-packed into tight spaces. If the shoulder is damaged and cracked, it can be difficult to repair, and thus might be wise to pass on. 

(Photos via Mr. Moo)

A Tale of Two Hangers

Over the weekend, I was going through the archives of Tutto Fatto a Mano, a blog about tailoring I really like. It’s maintained by Jeffery Diduch, a professional tailor and pattern maker that’s done work in bespoke and ready-to-wear. Of the people online who talk about garment construction, quality, and tailoring, I find Jeffery’s opinion to be more reliable than most. He has the technical training for it and is impressively fair-minded. Much of his site, in fact, is dedicated to “myth busting” commonly held beliefs about tailored clothing. 

Anyway, in the archive, I found this old post about hangers. As I’ve written before, I’ve always used wooden hangers with wide, flared out shoulders for my suits and sport coats, but remained skeptical of their necessity. That is until last year, when I grabbed drinks with a Savile Row tailor, who confirmed that an improper hanger can indeed ruin the shape of a jacket.

Jeffery has some really nice photos to illustrate this. In the top photo, we see a jacket being hung on a thin, “wishbone” hanger. As he notes, the ends of the hanger are poking through the sleeveheads, where there’s a piece of canvas meant to give support. This is causing the rippling you see at the top of the sleeve, which can be set in over time and require a skilled presser to remove. Worse still, if you pack your jackets too closely together in your closet, these creases can be very difficult to get out, even by an experienced hand. In the second photo, when the same jacket is set on a better hanger, we see the ripples go away and the collar of the jacket sit up a bit more properly. 

My hangers of choice are by The Hanger Project. In full disclosure, they’re our advertiser, but I’ve genuinely become a fan since receiving some of their hangers for review. I have a few new sport coats coming to me by the end of the year and plan on purchasing The Hanger Project’s hangers for all of them. I like that their shoulders are about a half-inch wider than most of their competitors’ and they come in four different sizes. The second part is particularly useful if you have jackets with narrow shoulders like mine. They also come in some beautiful, nicely finished woods. They are, however, a bit expensive. If you can afford them, two other sources to consider are A Suitable Wardrobe and Butler Luxury

If these are all too expensive for your budget, there’s no reason to break the bank. Wooden Hangers USA sells perfectly decent hangers at a very reasonable price. The woods aren’t as nice, and the shoulders aren’t as wide, but the first is a matter of aesthetics and the second could be an advantage if you have a particularly cramped closet. The point here is that good hangers are worth considering, no matter where you get them, and that you ought to take care to not pack your jackets too closely together. Jeffery’s photos nicely demonstrate the reasons why.