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)

Why Pay for Canvas?

As many readers know, suit jackets and sport coats mainly come in three types of construction: fused, half-canvassed, and fully-canvassed. A fused jacket will have a lightweight fusible interlining sandwiched in-between the two outer shell fabrics, and a canvassed one will have a canvas made from animal hair (usually horse or camel) mixed with either cotton or wool. Generally speaking, canvassed jackets will cost considerably more than fused ones. So why pay for them?

Well, one of the reasons is that a canvassed jacket will have a lot more three-dimensional shape. Animal hair can be molded using steam, heat, and pressure, much like how a woman’s hair can be shaped using a hot curling iron. With that shape, you get a much more beautiful garment. 

Take a look above. The top most photo is of Alan See with his lovely wife at the menswear trade show Pitti Uomo. He’s seen here wearing a three-piece suit by Liverano & Liverano, a bespoke tailoring house in Florence, Italy. Notice how his lapel line “blooms” as it moves from the buttoning point to his shoulders? It has a “roll” to it, rather than being pressed flat against his chest. Similarly, just below him are JefferyD and MostExerent, both of which also have nice, shapely lapels that “roll” near their buttoning points.

To understand how this is achieved, look at the bottommost photo above (also taken from JefferyD). Moving from left to right, the first material is haircloth, which is made from wiry horsetail strands. This is used to add shape to the chest and shoulders (ever put on a Tom Ford suit and feel like you’re wearing a prosthetic chest? This is because he puts in a ton of haircloth into his suits). The second material is wrapped haircloth, which is a softer, more affordable alternative. Next, we have a wool canvas (the brown material) and a fusible (the black material). These are added on top of the haircloth and extend from the shoulders to the hem (the haircloth is only in the chest). Notice that the brown wool canvas has a natural roll to it while the black fusible is limp. This natural roll is what gives those lapels their “bloom.” 

Of course, this isn’t to say that fused garments aren’t worth buying. They’re considerably more affordable, which is nice if you’re on a budget or if your tastes are still developing. It can take a long, long time for your tastes to settle and for you to develop an eye for what truly fits and flatters you the most. It would be a shame if you had to make your mistakes on much more expensive garments. 

If you have the money, however, and you feel confident in your choices, canvassed garments can be much more handsome. And once you own some, know how to best preserve their shape (after all, that’s what you paid for). Make sure your jackets aren’t smashed against each other in your closet and use hangers with wide, flared out shoulders. Our advertiser The Hanger Project sells some really nice ones, but if you want something more affordable, check out Wooden Hangers USA. Also, stay away from bad dry cleaners, as they can really press the life out of your jackets’ lapels, shoulders, and chests. I ship my stuff to RAVE FabriCare, but you can look for someone more local. Finally, be careful with garment steamers, and don’t hang your jackets in the bathroom while taking a shower. Steam will take out the wrinkles, it’s true, but it’ll also take out the shape. If that ever happens, you can send your jacket to a place that gives a good handpressing. That should be done every once in a while anyway, just so your jackets can maintain their form. 

(Photos via NY Mag, JefferyD, and MostExerent)

We Got It For Free: High-Quality Hangers
Men’s clothing enthusiasts often stress the importance of using specialized hangers for suits and sport coats. It’s not an empty claim, since tailored jackets have their own form, and these forms need to be preserved. If a jacket has been well-made, its fabric will have been moulded through a lot of hand pressing and ironing in order to give it a certain three-dimensional shape. The claim is that if we use improper hangers – ones that don’t imitate the width and curvature of our shoulders – a jacket’s form can be ruined. I admit I’ve always been skeptical of this, yet I’ve also never used anything but contoured hangers. Whether or not regular hangers are actually bad for tailored jackets, I’ve never been willing to take the chance. 
Last month, The Hanger Project - who many say makes some of the best specialty hangers - sent me some of their products for a review. Their shirt hangers are simple enough, though probably better looking than anything else you’ll find on the market. They also have flocked trouser hangers that allow you to avoid the creasing that can result from a locking bar. Their most impressive hangers, however, are those made for suits and sport coats. These are shaped in a way to closely resemble how a man’s shoulders naturally curve forward, and the ends flare out to an impressive 2.5” in width. This might sound excessive, but again – one should remember that a well-tailored sleeve is shaped through a lot of hand pressing with a heavy steam iron, and that shape presumably should be supported.
Fortuitously, a day after The Hanger Project’s package arrived, I went to have drinks with a rather renowned (and very fair minded) tailor from Savile Row. I took the opportunity to ask him whether such specialized hangers really make a difference. He said absolutely. An improper hanger could easily ruin a jacket’s shoulder line, which is one of the most critical parts to how a jacket fits. He also said The Hanger Project’s hangers are the best he’s ever come across. So, my skepticism has been assuaged.
There are two downsides to The Hanger Project’s products, however. The first is that their suit and sport coat hangers take up considerably more room. That’s necessarily so since they have such curved and wide shoulders, which are designed to support a jacket as ideally as possible. If you can’t afford the space, you can try their travel hangers, which are a bit narrower. The other downside is obviously the price. Their flagship suit hangers, for example, are $25 a piece, so these aren’t exactly cheap.
For an affordable alternative, there’s Wooden Hangers USA. The woods they use aren’t as nice, and sometimes they have slightly rougher edges (though nothing that I think would damage a jacket). They also cover their trouser bars with a slightly less effective ridged vinyl, rather than flocking them. Perhaps most importantly, their suit hangers’ shoulders aren’t as curved and wide, and they come in sizes that might not be as ideal. I wear a 36 coat, for example, and The Hanger Project’s 15.5” wide hangers fit my jackets perfectly. The sleeves are supported just at the right points, whereas Wooden Hangers USA’s products push them out a bit.
Still, Wooden Hangers USA has some truly wonderful products at affordable prices. Their stuff feels sturdy in the hand, comes in nice finishes, and features 2” shoulders (just a bit less than The Hanger Project’s 2.5”). I’d say they set the baseline for what a decent quality hanger should be. If you can’t afford The Hanger Project’s products, Wooden Hanger USA’s will certainly be better than the free wire ones you get from the dry cleaners. And if one is buying high-quality tailored jackets, a $7 hanger from Wooden Hangers USA, or a $25 hanger from The Hanger Project, might be worth the investment.  
(Pictured above: The Hanger Project’s suit hangers)

We Got It For Free: High-Quality Hangers

Men’s clothing enthusiasts often stress the importance of using specialized hangers for suits and sport coats. It’s not an empty claim, since tailored jackets have their own form, and these forms need to be preserved. If a jacket has been well-made, its fabric will have been moulded through a lot of hand pressing and ironing in order to give it a certain three-dimensional shape. The claim is that if we use improper hangers – ones that don’t imitate the width and curvature of our shoulders – a jacket’s form can be ruined. I admit I’ve always been skeptical of this, yet I’ve also never used anything but contoured hangers. Whether or not regular hangers are actually bad for tailored jackets, I’ve never been willing to take the chance. 

Last month, The Hanger Project - who many say makes some of the best specialty hangers - sent me some of their products for a review. Their shirt hangers are simple enough, though probably better looking than anything else you’ll find on the market. They also have flocked trouser hangers that allow you to avoid the creasing that can result from a locking bar. Their most impressive hangers, however, are those made for suits and sport coats. These are shaped in a way to closely resemble how a man’s shoulders naturally curve forward, and the ends flare out to an impressive 2.5” in width. This might sound excessive, but again – one should remember that a well-tailored sleeve is shaped through a lot of hand pressing with a heavy steam iron, and that shape presumably should be supported.

Fortuitously, a day after The Hanger Project’s package arrived, I went to have drinks with a rather renowned (and very fair minded) tailor from Savile Row. I took the opportunity to ask him whether such specialized hangers really make a difference. He said absolutely. An improper hanger could easily ruin a jacket’s shoulder line, which is one of the most critical parts to how a jacket fits. He also said The Hanger Project’s hangers are the best he’s ever come across. So, my skepticism has been assuaged.

There are two downsides to The Hanger Project’s products, however. The first is that their suit and sport coat hangers take up considerably more room. That’s necessarily so since they have such curved and wide shoulders, which are designed to support a jacket as ideally as possible. If you can’t afford the space, you can try their travel hangers, which are a bit narrower. The other downside is obviously the price. Their flagship suit hangers, for example, are $25 a piece, so these aren’t exactly cheap.

For an affordable alternative, there’s Wooden Hangers USA. The woods they use aren’t as nice, and sometimes they have slightly rougher edges (though nothing that I think would damage a jacket). They also cover their trouser bars with a slightly less effective ridged vinyl, rather than flocking them. Perhaps most importantly, their suit hangers’ shoulders aren’t as curved and wide, and they come in sizes that might not be as ideal. I wear a 36 coat, for example, and The Hanger Project’s 15.5” wide hangers fit my jackets perfectly. The sleeves are supported just at the right points, whereas Wooden Hangers USA’s products push them out a bit.

Still, Wooden Hangers USA has some truly wonderful products at affordable prices. Their stuff feels sturdy in the hand, comes in nice finishes, and features 2” shoulders (just a bit less than The Hanger Project’s 2.5”). I’d say they set the baseline for what a decent quality hanger should be. If you can’t afford The Hanger Project’s products, Wooden Hanger USA’s will certainly be better than the free wire ones you get from the dry cleaners. And if one is buying high-quality tailored jackets, a $7 hanger from Wooden Hangers USA, or a $25 hanger from The Hanger Project, might be worth the investment.  

(Pictured above: The Hanger Project’s suit hangers)

Drying Off
It started raining in the Bay Area this weekend. Really turbulent winds and heavy showers meant that every time I went out even for a few moments, I came home soaking wet. In such weather, it’s good to remember how to properly take care of your possessions.
For jackets and coats, you can brush off most of the water with your hands or a Kent clothing brush. Don’t stick your clothes in the closet afterwards just yet, however. You want to put them in an area with some good circulation, so they can dry properly. The risk with wet clothes is that they might develop mildew, which is really difficult to get rid of. A night out on a coat rack or something should be enough time to let them recover. After that, hang it in the closet with a hanger that has thick, moulded shoulders. I like the ones from The Hanger Project, but there are other merchants as well, such as A Suitable Wardrobe and, more affordably, Wooden Hangers USA.
Likewise, umbrellas should have time to dry before being furled up again. I shake mine off gently before coming in, and then open it again once I’m indoors and set it on its side. The material used for umbrella canopies are usually quick drying, so this shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.
Finally, for shoes, I brush off the big drops, stick in cedar shoe trees, and then lay my shoes on their sides, like I’ve pictured above. I used to think the last step was kind of unnecessary, until I noticed that my wet shoes were sitting in puddles when I left them on their soles. Moisture can really weaken leather, so you need to make sure your shoes are completely dry before wearing them again. Setting them on their side helps aid that for the parts that are likely to be most damaged.
Whatever you do - whether for clothes, umbrellas, or shoes - avoid the temptation to hasten the drying process by setting things near a heater. You’re likely to over-dry your items, which can crack leather and make wool brittle. Heaters can rob these materials of their natural oils, so make sure you leave everything to dry at room temperature. Being patient, as usual, is the way to go. 

Drying Off

It started raining in the Bay Area this weekend. Really turbulent winds and heavy showers meant that every time I went out even for a few moments, I came home soaking wet. In such weather, it’s good to remember how to properly take care of your possessions.

For jackets and coats, you can brush off most of the water with your hands or a Kent clothing brush. Don’t stick your clothes in the closet afterwards just yet, however. You want to put them in an area with some good circulation, so they can dry properly. The risk with wet clothes is that they might develop mildew, which is really difficult to get rid of. A night out on a coat rack or something should be enough time to let them recover. After that, hang it in the closet with a hanger that has thick, moulded shoulders. I like the ones from The Hanger Project, but there are other merchants as well, such as A Suitable Wardrobe and, more affordably, Wooden Hangers USA.

Likewise, umbrellas should have time to dry before being furled up again. I shake mine off gently before coming in, and then open it again once I’m indoors and set it on its side. The material used for umbrella canopies are usually quick drying, so this shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.

Finally, for shoes, I brush off the big drops, stick in cedar shoe trees, and then lay my shoes on their sides, like I’ve pictured above. I used to think the last step was kind of unnecessary, until I noticed that my wet shoes were sitting in puddles when I left them on their soles. Moisture can really weaken leather, so you need to make sure your shoes are completely dry before wearing them again. Setting them on their side helps aid that for the parts that are likely to be most damaged.

Whatever you do - whether for clothes, umbrellas, or shoes - avoid the temptation to hasten the drying process by setting things near a heater. You’re likely to over-dry your items, which can crack leather and make wool brittle. Heaters can rob these materials of their natural oils, so make sure you leave everything to dry at room temperature. Being patient, as usual, is the way to go. 

Q and Answer: How Can I Get the Most Out of My Closet?
Jacques asks: I have a really small closet. Would you offer any suggestions or tips on how to improve closet space or how to improve closet organization in general? Thanks!
I struggle with the same problem. My closet is probably not even suitable for someone with a regular sized wardrobe, let alone someone who has an interest in men’s clothing. I dream of one day having a walk-in closet, though I suppose every closet is a walk-in if you try hard enough. 
This subject is probably too much to cover in one post, and what’s possible or optimal will depend a lot on your living space. If I could give some general advice, however, they’d be the following:
Dump and store: First, get rid of things you don’t need. If you haven’t worn something in a long time, you probably never will, so consider donating it to charity or selling it on eBay. If you’re too lazy to list stuff, you can give them an eBay consigner, such as Luxe Swap, who will sell them for you. For the remainder, store away anything that’s out-of-season. This will make room for things you’ll actually wear and protect your other clothes for the next six months, when they’ll be out of use. You can read an article I wrote about seasonal storage here.
Maximize your closet space: How you should do this will depend on the particulars of you closet. One good solution, however, is installing a second rod; this should double the amount you can hang across your closet. If installing a full second rod isn’t practical for you, try a hanging one. After that, you can add an over-head shelf to store your out-of-season clothes, and put some cubbies or adjustable shelves on the floor to hold things that you’ll only occasionally use. On the side of your closet, if you have room, you can build shelves and put in shelf dividers or baskets. I recommend woven baskets over plastic ones, because clothes are best kept in breathable storage units. You can also hang vertical shelves to hold sweaters and shoes. Remember the point with all these things to maximize the vertical space in your closet as much as possible, but keep the prime real estate for things that you’ll use on a daily basis.  
Use the back of doors: On the back of your closet door, you can install hooks to hang things such as belts or the day’s dry cleaning, or throw an over-the-door shoe organizer (but only the kind that will allow you to still use shoe trees). The only thing I wouldn’t recommend putting in there are shoes that have been bulled, but otherwise, they should hold shoes just fine. 
Put things under your bed: Here is where you can put out-of-season clothes, or things such as socks, underwear, and undershirts. This will free up your dresser drawers for things such as sweaters and knits. (If you haven’t yet, read Jesse’s guide on how to store clothes. No matter what solutions you come up with, I recommend you not deviate from his guide). Canvas containers will allow your clothes to breathe but plastic can be good if you have a lot of dust bunnies. There are also under-the-bed storage solutions for shoes.
Consider other speciality products: There are a ton of other products you can consider. Cascading hangers, for example, will let you hang more dress shirts in a vertical space. I’m less of a fan of those since I think button-up shirts hold their shape better when they’re held on wooden hangers and not smashed against each other. There are also hangers to hold multiple pairs of pants (like this, this, or this). I’ve found those to be of limited use since hanging four or five pairs of pants on the same hanger still takes about the same horizontal space as they would if you hung them separately. The one by The Great American Hanger Company also has small plastic teeth on each bar. Useful for making sure your pants don’t slip down, but potentially damaging for wool trousers. I use one just for chinos and keep it on the end of my closet. Additionally, there’s the Hanger Hamper, which can be a nice way to free up space in your closet as more hangers become empty throughout the week. 
Buy a new closet: At some point, there’s only so much you can do, and you may have to buy a new closet. I think this one and this one look particularly promising because of the double decker rod system. 
That’s just the start. I recommend checking Closet Maid, The Container Store, and Bed, Bath & Beyond for other solutions. As I said, much of this will depend on your needs and room’s particular layout. 
(Photo by Darwin Bell)

Q and Answer: How Can I Get the Most Out of My Closet?

Jacques asks: I have a really small closet. Would you offer any suggestions or tips on how to improve closet space or how to improve closet organization in general? Thanks!

I struggle with the same problem. My closet is probably not even suitable for someone with a regular sized wardrobe, let alone someone who has an interest in men’s clothing. I dream of one day having a walk-in closet, though I suppose every closet is a walk-in if you try hard enough.

This subject is probably too much to cover in one post, and what’s possible or optimal will depend a lot on your living space. If I could give some general advice, however, they’d be the following:

Dump and store: First, get rid of things you don’t need. If you haven’t worn something in a long time, you probably never will, so consider donating it to charity or selling it on eBay. If you’re too lazy to list stuff, you can give them an eBay consigner, such as Luxe Swap, who will sell them for you. For the remainder, store away anything that’s out-of-season. This will make room for things you’ll actually wear and protect your other clothes for the next six months, when they’ll be out of use. You can read an article I wrote about seasonal storage here.

Maximize your closet space: How you should do this will depend on the particulars of you closet. One good solution, however, is installing a second rod; this should double the amount you can hang across your closet. If installing a full second rod isn’t practical for you, try a hanging one. After that, you can add an over-head shelf to store your out-of-season clothes, and put some cubbies or adjustable shelves on the floor to hold things that you’ll only occasionally use. On the side of your closet, if you have room, you can build shelves and put in shelf dividers or baskets. I recommend woven baskets over plastic ones, because clothes are best kept in breathable storage units. You can also hang vertical shelves to hold sweaters and shoes. Remember the point with all these things to maximize the vertical space in your closet as much as possible, but keep the prime real estate for things that you’ll use on a daily basis.  

Use the back of doors: On the back of your closet door, you can install hooks to hang things such as belts or the day’s dry cleaning, or throw an over-the-door shoe organizer (but only the kind that will allow you to still use shoe trees). The only thing I wouldn’t recommend putting in there are shoes that have been bulled, but otherwise, they should hold shoes just fine.

Put things under your bed: Here is where you can put out-of-season clothes, or things such as socks, underwear, and undershirts. This will free up your dresser drawers for things such as sweaters and knits. (If you haven’t yet, read Jesse’s guide on how to store clothes. No matter what solutions you come up with, I recommend you not deviate from his guide). Canvas containers will allow your clothes to breathe but plastic can be good if you have a lot of dust bunnies. There are also under-the-bed storage solutions for shoes.

Consider other speciality products: There are a ton of other products you can consider. Cascading hangers, for example, will let you hang more dress shirts in a vertical space. I’m less of a fan of those since I think button-up shirts hold their shape better when they’re held on wooden hangers and not smashed against each other. There are also hangers to hold multiple pairs of pants (like this, this, or this). I’ve found those to be of limited use since hanging four or five pairs of pants on the same hanger still takes about the same horizontal space as they would if you hung them separately. The one by The Great American Hanger Company also has small plastic teeth on each bar. Useful for making sure your pants don’t slip down, but potentially damaging for wool trousers. I use one just for chinos and keep it on the end of my closet. Additionally, there’s the Hanger Hamper, which can be a nice way to free up space in your closet as more hangers become empty throughout the week.

Buy a new closet: At some point, there’s only so much you can do, and you may have to buy a new closet. I think this one and this one look particularly promising because of the double decker rod system.

That’s just the start. I recommend checking Closet Maid, The Container Store, and Bed, Bath & Beyond for other solutions. As I said, much of this will depend on your needs and room’s particular layout. 

(Photo by Darwin Bell)

Q and Answer: How Should I Hang Up My Pants?

Josh from Austin asks: How the heck should I hang up my pants? There’s tons of different options (folded over a regular hanger, those hangers that clamp on to the bottom, the ones with two clips, etc.). Do you find any one way particularly superior?

There are a variety of ways to hang pants, and the difference between them, functionally, is modest.

Given unlimited space, my preference is the clamp style hanger. This wooden hanger clamps onto your cuff (the clamp is lined in felt), and the pants hang waist-down from the rack. The great advantage of this option is that creases will fall out of your pants. For this reason, I usually hang my pants from the cuff in hotel rooms for overnight stays, to help ensure sharp pants in the morning.

You can also hang pants from the cuff using a clip hanger, which is generally used for skirts. It will have the same benefit, but you may get some clip marks or unequal pulling, since all the weight of the pants is hanging from just two spots. Still, if you have the vertical space, it’ll be fine.

A traditional bar hanger is perfectly fine as well. You’re best off using something with a felted bar (the one pictured above is covered in rubber, which helps, though not quite as much as felt). This will help keep your trousers from slipping off the hanger. You can also try this very cool hanging technique, which will keep those trousers secure even in the jostliest of closets.

Here’s where I admit how I hang my trousers: on those space-saver multi-hangers. It works fine, I almost never lose them, and it does indeed save space in my closet. I’ve got cubbies below my closet bar, so there’s no room for a full-length hanging trouser, and horizontal space is at a premium, so the modest amount of saved left-to-right area is appreciated. I’ve got multi-hangers by color - gray, blue, khaki and brown.