Closet Maintenance: Consider a “One in, One out” Policy
When I began thinking about my clothing purchases beyond “Hey I like that shirt,” and building a wardrobe thoughtfully, season by season, there were lots of holes to fill. Dozens of resources offer advice on how many suits, jackets, shirts, shoes, belts, jeans, sweaters, ties, watch bands, collar pins, camp caps, regatta-striped blazers, etc. etc. a man must own, and because acquiring cool stuff is fun, I quickly overdid it a little. (Celebrated illustrator and dandy Richard Merkin, pictured, would recommend at least a dozen sets of braces.) An occasional ebay selling binge or donation to Goodwill can dispose of the shirts that don’t quite fit or shoes on which I gambled and lost, and some treasured items eventually wear out beyond reasonable repair, but even so I continue accumulate stuff more quickly than I can realistically wear it out or tire of it.
Once you reach critical mass, whether that means enough stuff to make it to laundry day or enough to require a second storage unit for seasonal pieces (and who am I to judge), a policy that can prevent hoarding is “one in, one out.” For example, I have enough sweaters—basics; cotton, wool, cashmere; tasteful intarsia and an ugly Christmas sweater just in case. My sweater drawer is full. Should a top-quality, beautiful piece really strike me (say an Inis Meain or Inverallan), I can buy it; but only if I get rid of a sweater I already own.
Using the one in, one out policy makes editing a reasonable wardrobe easier. It cuts down on impulse purchases (i.e., do I really want to get rid of any sweaters in order to buy a cardigan on deep sale?), eases seasonal transitions (less stuff to store or pull out of storage), and helps keep a closet refreshed rather than just bursting.
-Pete

Closet Maintenance: Consider a “One in, One out” Policy

When I began thinking about my clothing purchases beyond “Hey I like that shirt,” and building a wardrobe thoughtfully, season by season, there were lots of holes to fill. Dozens of resources offer advice on how many suits, jackets, shirts, shoes, belts, jeans, sweaters, ties, watch bands, collar pins, camp caps, regatta-striped blazers, etc. etc. a man must own, and because acquiring cool stuff is fun, I quickly overdid it a little. (Celebrated illustrator and dandy Richard Merkin, pictured, would recommend at least a dozen sets of braces.) An occasional ebay selling binge or donation to Goodwill can dispose of the shirts that don’t quite fit or shoes on which I gambled and lost, and some treasured items eventually wear out beyond reasonable repair, but even so I continue accumulate stuff more quickly than I can realistically wear it out or tire of it.

Once you reach critical mass, whether that means enough stuff to make it to laundry day or enough to require a second storage unit for seasonal pieces (and who am I to judge), a policy that can prevent hoarding is “one in, one out.” For example, I have enough sweaters—basics; cotton, wool, cashmere; tasteful intarsia and an ugly Christmas sweater just in case. My sweater drawer is full. Should a top-quality, beautiful piece really strike me (say an Inis Meain or Inverallan), I can buy it; but only if I get rid of a sweater I already own.

Using the one in, one out policy makes editing a reasonable wardrobe easier. It cuts down on impulse purchases (i.e., do I really want to get rid of any sweaters in order to buy a cardigan on deep sale?), eases seasonal transitions (less stuff to store or pull out of storage), and helps keep a closet refreshed rather than just bursting.

-Pete

Reweaving Holes

Want to see something neat?

If you ever develop a hole in your clothes – whether from a moths, pulled threads, or just who knows what – you can sometimes have the fabric rewoven by a specialist. Reweaving is what you think it is: repairing a garment by filling in the hole instead of patching it up, ironing on a fusible, or stitching the cloth over on itself. Unlike those techniques, reweaving will be near invisible if done well.

I recently had a blue sweater rewoven by The French American Reweaving Company. The first photo above shows the area with the hole. It was maybe around the size of a pea, and looked like it would get worse if I didn’t take care of it soon. So after noticing it, I sent it to New York to be repaired and just got the garment back last week. You can see the results in the second photo. It’s almost impossible to tell where the damage was. 

Not every hole can be repaired like this, of course, and much depends on the type of fabric you have. Silks and cottons are generally not repairable, and certain synthetics can be tough. Knits are also easier than wovens, and solid colors are easier than fabrics with intricate designs. That said, almost anything can be repaired – sweaters, sport coats, suit jackets, trousers, etc. It just depends on the fabric and kind of damage at hand.

To know if something you have can be repaired, send it to The French American Reweaving Company for an assessment. Ron Moore, the owner of the company, is an absolute perfectionist and will give you an honest opinion of what he thinks can be done. His company has been in business since the 1930s and he’s been in the trade since the 1960s. That’s a lot of experience. Prices aren’t cheap (I paid $50 for my repair) and the turnaround time is quite variable (Ron said they can usually send things back within ten days, but my job took two months since it was harder to source the yarn). Still, if you have a favorite sport coat, sweater or pair of trousers, this is an infinitely better than what your local alterations tailor can probably do for you. 

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. 

The Single Most Important Shoe Care Tip
I accepted some time ago that few people – including the people I know who are as interested in men’s style as I am – take the time to polish their shoes. Which is a shame because much of the value in good leather shoes is tied into how well you take care of them. The richness and depth of the leather, and the patina that builds over time, are all really brought out with routine polishing. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that a well-taken pair of mid-quality, full-grain leather shoes will always look better than a neglected pair made by some world-class cordwainer.
If you’re not going to polish your shoes, however, then I encourage you to at least take one step: every once in a while, when your shoes start to look a little dry, apply a coat of leather conditioner. Routine application will do more for the health and appearance of your shoes than anything else. It will help bring out the suppleness and richness in the leather, give the color some depth, and most importantly, prevent your uppers from drying out and cracking.
Many shoe enthusiasts prefer to condition their shoes with Saphir Renovateur. Indeed, it’s pretty nice stuff, but also a bit expensive. You’d be perfectly fine, in my opinion, with many of the cheaper options on the market. I prefer Allen Edmonds’ Conditioner and Cleaner, though Lexol is also pretty good (they have it broken up into separate conditioner and cleaner bottles). I’ve used all three brands, and they all perform well. The real advantage of Saphir, from what I can tell, is that it smells a bit nicer and comes in a prettier container. Not a totally trivial thing, since it’s nice to make the activity as enjoyable as possible, but if you can’t afford it, don’t sweat it. The most important thing is that you put some conditioner on once every month or two, even if you can’t be bothered to polish.  
(Photo via The William Brown Project)

The Single Most Important Shoe Care Tip

I accepted some time ago that few people – including the people I know who are as interested in men’s style as I am – take the time to polish their shoes. Which is a shame because much of the value in good leather shoes is tied into how well you take care of them. The richness and depth of the leather, and the patina that builds over time, are all really brought out with routine polishing. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that a well-taken pair of mid-quality, full-grain leather shoes will always look better than a neglected pair made by some world-class cordwainer.

If you’re not going to polish your shoes, however, then I encourage you to at least take one step: every once in a while, when your shoes start to look a little dry, apply a coat of leather conditioner. Routine application will do more for the health and appearance of your shoes than anything else. It will help bring out the suppleness and richness in the leather, give the color some depth, and most importantly, prevent your uppers from drying out and cracking.

Many shoe enthusiasts prefer to condition their shoes with Saphir Renovateur. Indeed, it’s pretty nice stuff, but also a bit expensive. You’d be perfectly fine, in my opinion, with many of the cheaper options on the market. I prefer Allen Edmonds’ Conditioner and Cleaner, though Lexol is also pretty good (they have it broken up into separate conditioner and cleaner bottles). I’ve used all three brands, and they all perform well. The real advantage of Saphir, from what I can tell, is that it smells a bit nicer and comes in a prettier container. Not a totally trivial thing, since it’s nice to make the activity as enjoyable as possible, but if you can’t afford it, don’t sweat it. The most important thing is that you put some conditioner on once every month or two, even if you can’t be bothered to polish.  

(Photo via The William Brown Project)

Finding a Good Dry Cleaner
With the amount of information online about clothing construction and quality, there’s surprisingly little about how to find a good dry cleaner. The quality of your cleaner, however, can really affect the life of your garments. Take your clothes to a bad operation and they can set in stains, ruin the nap on fabrics, and even take the shape out of a well-made jacket. It’s worthwhile then to figure out how to tell a good dry cleaning job from a bad one.
There are essentially two types of dry cleaning businesses. The first is known as a dry store, where the store essentially acts as a drop-off point for some remotely located central plant. For every central plant, there might be five to twenty of these “satellite” shops located throughout various neighborhoods. The second is what’s known as a package plant, where a business has their own equipment on-site, which means they actually do the dry cleaning themselves.
So how can you tell the quality of these cleaners’ work? Well, roughly speaking, a dry store is more likely to have lower quality service. Their aim typically is to control costs, increase efficiency, and turn things around as quickly as possible. If you see a really small shop with no machines besides a conveyer behind the counter, and they’re charging you $8 to clean a suit with next day service, the chances are, you’re clothes aren’t getting much consideration.
Package plants, on the other hand, tend to have better service, but you can’t assume this just because they own their own equipment. It’s useful to know a bit about the dry cleaning process so you know what things to look for and what questions to ask. For example:
Dry cleaning is good for taking out oil-based stains (such as those from lotions, salad dressings, and pizza drippings) but it can potentially set in water-based stains (such as those from juice, coffee, or even perspiration). A good dry cleaner will thus identify the types of stains you have and pre-treat them accordingly, so that damage isn’t set in through the cleaning process itself. Make sure your cleaner has a technician that does this.
Some dry cleaners also re-use their cleaning fluids, which means dirt from previous loads can be redeposited. Ask your cleaner if they use freshly purified or freshly distilled fluids with every run.
If you’re having garments pressed, you may also want to enquire if the job is done by hand or machine (though, from my experience, many places that do a machine press will still say they do it by hand). The problem with a machine press is that they’re often just blowing hot steam through a garment, which can take the shape out of a high-quality suit and ruin the seams on a low-quality jacket.
Finally, when you get your garments back, feel the fabrics. Do they feel soft, as you remember them, or a bit stiff? Many cleaners will use what’s known in the trade as sizing, which stiffens a fabric a bit so that it’s easier to press. Great for efficiency, but bad if you want to maintain the soft hand and beautiful nap on a something such as high-quality flannel wool.
Now, I’m wary of advising people to go into operations and interrogate professionals as though they know more about the business than the people running the shop. What I am advising, however, is that people learn a bit about how dry cleaning is done, just as they should learn a little about how shoes and suits are made. That way, they know what are the right questions to ask and be able to interpret answers.
For what it’s worth, the best dry cleaner I know of is RAVE FabriCARE, who is located in Arizona, but can take clothes by mail. Their prices aren’t cheap, but if you have something you really care about, or something heavily soiled, they’re certainly worth considering. Stu, who runs that operation, sat down with me last year to really explain the cleaning process, and he runs a blog where you can find much of this same information. Take the time to read through a few of his posts. They’re quite informative and can go a long way in helping you find the right cleaner for your needs. 
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Finding a Good Dry Cleaner

With the amount of information online about clothing construction and quality, there’s surprisingly little about how to find a good dry cleaner. The quality of your cleaner, however, can really affect the life of your garments. Take your clothes to a bad operation and they can set in stains, ruin the nap on fabrics, and even take the shape out of a well-made jacket. It’s worthwhile then to figure out how to tell a good dry cleaning job from a bad one.

There are essentially two types of dry cleaning businesses. The first is known as a dry store, where the store essentially acts as a drop-off point for some remotely located central plant. For every central plant, there might be five to twenty of these “satellite” shops located throughout various neighborhoods. The second is what’s known as a package plant, where a business has their own equipment on-site, which means they actually do the dry cleaning themselves.

So how can you tell the quality of these cleaners’ work? Well, roughly speaking, a dry store is more likely to have lower quality service. Their aim typically is to control costs, increase efficiency, and turn things around as quickly as possible. If you see a really small shop with no machines besides a conveyer behind the counter, and they’re charging you $8 to clean a suit with next day service, the chances are, you’re clothes aren’t getting much consideration.

Package plants, on the other hand, tend to have better service, but you can’t assume this just because they own their own equipment. It’s useful to know a bit about the dry cleaning process so you know what things to look for and what questions to ask. For example:

  • Dry cleaning is good for taking out oil-based stains (such as those from lotions, salad dressings, and pizza drippings) but it can potentially set in water-based stains (such as those from juice, coffee, or even perspiration). A good dry cleaner will thus identify the types of stains you have and pre-treat them accordingly, so that damage isn’t set in through the cleaning process itself. Make sure your cleaner has a technician that does this.
  • Some dry cleaners also re-use their cleaning fluids, which means dirt from previous loads can be redeposited. Ask your cleaner if they use freshly purified or freshly distilled fluids with every run.
  • If you’re having garments pressed, you may also want to enquire if the job is done by hand or machine (though, from my experience, many places that do a machine press will still say they do it by hand). The problem with a machine press is that they’re often just blowing hot steam through a garment, which can take the shape out of a high-quality suit and ruin the seams on a low-quality jacket.
  • Finally, when you get your garments back, feel the fabrics. Do they feel soft, as you remember them, or a bit stiff? Many cleaners will use what’s known in the trade as sizing, which stiffens a fabric a bit so that it’s easier to press. Great for efficiency, but bad if you want to maintain the soft hand and beautiful nap on a something such as high-quality flannel wool.

Now, I’m wary of advising people to go into operations and interrogate professionals as though they know more about the business than the people running the shop. What I am advising, however, is that people learn a bit about how dry cleaning is done, just as they should learn a little about how shoes and suits are made. That way, they know what are the right questions to ask and be able to interpret answers.

For what it’s worth, the best dry cleaner I know of is RAVE FabriCARE, who is located in Arizona, but can take clothes by mail. Their prices aren’t cheap, but if you have something you really care about, or something heavily soiled, they’re certainly worth considering. Stu, who runs that operation, sat down with me last year to really explain the cleaning process, and he runs a blog where you can find much of this same information. Take the time to read through a few of his posts. They’re quite informative and can go a long way in helping you find the right cleaner for your needs. 

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Seasonal Transitions
Spring officially starts next week, which means now is a good time to start thinking about whether or not you’d like to store away your winter wardrobe. This can help protect your off-season clothes from moths and make much needed room for spring and summer items. Things such as heavy boots, tweeds, and sweaters can take up a lot of space, and a crowded closet can potentially damage tailored jackets, as well as just generally be a nuisance to deal with.
Before packing things away, however, make sure you give everything a good cleaning. Food bits and human odor can attract insects, so a dry clean or wash will be necessary. You’ll also want to check the pockets on everything to make sure you’re not storing away anything important.
For storage, I like to use cloth garment bags, as they’re more breathable than plastic. You can buy some decent ones for about $15 through Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond, though if you have the money, our advertiser The Hanger Project also sells a rather nice model for $65. For sweaters and shoes, I mostly use plastic bins, but lately have been considering getting under-the-bed canvas storage units. Whichever one you choose for yourself, take care to put heavier sweaters at the bottom, and don’t pack things in too tightly. That way, your thinner, lightweight knits won’t come out wrinkled by the time fall rolls around. You may also want to consider throwing in some cedar or lavender sachets with your knitwear, as they’ll help deter dreaded moths and silverfish from finding your clothes and snacking on them.
Finally, consider donating anything you haven’t worn either to a local Goodwill or a charity that will pick up your clothes for free. This site can help you schedule a pick-up for the second. For things that might be too expensive to give away, maybe make a note about what you’d like to sell. eBay is a great place to recoup some of the money you’ve spent, but you’ll want to wait until September before you list. From my experience, seasonal items tend to sell a bit better during their appropriate seasons. Those few extra dollars can make you feel a bit better about having to sell something you were reluctant to part with. 

Seasonal Transitions

Spring officially starts next week, which means now is a good time to start thinking about whether or not you’d like to store away your winter wardrobe. This can help protect your off-season clothes from moths and make much needed room for spring and summer items. Things such as heavy boots, tweeds, and sweaters can take up a lot of space, and a crowded closet can potentially damage tailored jackets, as well as just generally be a nuisance to deal with.

Before packing things away, however, make sure you give everything a good cleaning. Food bits and human odor can attract insects, so a dry clean or wash will be necessary. You’ll also want to check the pockets on everything to make sure you’re not storing away anything important.

For storage, I like to use cloth garment bags, as they’re more breathable than plastic. You can buy some decent ones for about $15 through Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond, though if you have the money, our advertiser The Hanger Project also sells a rather nice model for $65. For sweaters and shoes, I mostly use plastic bins, but lately have been considering getting under-the-bed canvas storage units. Whichever one you choose for yourself, take care to put heavier sweaters at the bottom, and don’t pack things in too tightly. That way, your thinner, lightweight knits won’t come out wrinkled by the time fall rolls around. You may also want to consider throwing in some cedar or lavender sachets with your knitwear, as they’ll help deter dreaded moths and silverfish from finding your clothes and snacking on them.

Finally, consider donating anything you haven’t worn either to a local Goodwill or a charity that will pick up your clothes for free. This site can help you schedule a pick-up for the second. For things that might be too expensive to give away, maybe make a note about what you’d like to sell. eBay is a great place to recoup some of the money you’ve spent, but you’ll want to wait until September before you list. From my experience, seasonal items tend to sell a bit better during their appropriate seasons. Those few extra dollars can make you feel a bit better about having to sell something you were reluctant to part with. 

Proper Garment Care
Buying high quality garments, with the assumption that they’re built to last, only means something if you know how to take proper care of your clothes. Stuffing them into overcrowded closets or sending them off to bad dry cleaners will shorten their life considerably. Fortunately, taking care of your clothes doesn’t require much work. You can accomplish it with just a few minutes a day.
For suits and sport coats, dry cleaning twice a year should be sufficient for anything that’s only worn once or twice a week. Sending it in more often than that will shorten the life and ruin the look of a jacket. That’s because most dry cleaners use harsh chemicals and give hard pressings. You can, of course, use a high-quality cleaner that doesn’t employ such methods, but those will cost you more money.
For every day care, brush the dirt out with a soft bristled garment brush. This will prevent them from getting deep into the fabric, where friction can damage the fibers. It’ll also knock out any food bits that may attract moths. You can buy garment brushes from Kent, though sometimes slightly imperfect ones can be had for a bit cheaper on eBay. For something truly nice, Linkson Jack has some brushes backed with oxhorn.
To begin brushing, wipe down any large, unfinished wooden table, and lay your garment down on the surface. A polished table may be too slippery, so if you only have one of those, put your garment on a blanket or strip of felt so it won’t slide about. If this doesn’t work, you can also brush your garment while it’s on a hanger (though I find it’s harder to really bring some pressure to bear on the brush this way). While brushing, use short flicks of the wrist and always brush in the same direction. Never, ever scrub. You can first brush against the nap to remove any dirt, and then down the nap for a smooth finish. Some people even recommend dampening the brush with some water first for a bit of a freshening up, though I’ve never found the need to do this.
For wrinkles, you can let your jackets hang for a day or two. Heavy wools and linens should naturally relax over time. If you still need to sharpen them up, try using a garment steamer, but be careful to stay away from the seams and don’t go too wild with the device. Otherwise, you can ruin the stitching and take out the shape. Afterwards, hang your jacket on a hanger with flared shoulders. The Hanger Project makes the nicest ones I know of. The width and curvature of their shoulders most closely imitate a man’s natural shoulders, which is what you want. If you can’t afford them, however, Wooden Hanger USA sells some very nice options starting at $7.
If your jackets are finely constructed, you may also want to send them in for a hand press once a year or so. This will help restore their shape, which is often what gives a suit its flattering silhouette. Note, a hand press is different from a machine press. Most places will offer the second, even if they advertise it as the first. Machine presses take shape out; hand presses put shape in. If you can’t find someone in your area who can give you this service, you can send your jackets to Rave Fabricare.
For trousers, I recommend a similar treatment. Wools and linens go to the dry cleaner, though perhaps a bit more frequently than jackets since they tend to get dirty quicker. Still, we’re only talking about three or four times a year. You can brush out most of the dirt each day with a garment brush. Casual cotton chinos can be machine washed, though I also send my nicer, dressier cotton trousers to the dry cleaner. That includes dress chinos, moleskins, and corduroys. 
For sweaters, some cotton sweatshirts can be machine washed, but most sweaters will be better served by an at-home hand wash. This is a rather simple process, and Jesse covered the how-to two years ago in this post.
For shirts, pre-treat any stained collars and cuffs with Octagon Bar Soap. Soak your shirt in some water, rub the soap in, and scrub with a fingernail brush. Repeat until you see the dirt rings start fading. Then roll up your wet, soapy shirt and leave it overnight in a plastic bag so that it remains moist. The next day, just launder as usual. Alex Kabbaz, one of America’s best custom shirt makers, recommends Tide’s Unscented Original. I use Ecover, and mix in some Oxiclean if my shirts are extra dirty (as per Jesse’s recommendation). To protect the mother of pearl buttons, I sometimes button my shirts and turn them inside out.
For machine washes, you should always try to use the cold water, gentle cycle, but if you really need to treat stains, hot water for whites and warm water for light colors is often acceptable. Dark colors, however, should always be washed with cold water. After the wash, I strongly recommend hang drying. Machine dryers can take the humidity out of your fabrics, leaving them dull and brittle, which will eventually give them a premature worn-out appearance.
As always, make sure you always consult your garment’s care label for more instructions. They’ll usually at least tell you the bare minimum you have to adhere to.
(Photo from The Trad) 

Proper Garment Care

Buying high quality garments, with the assumption that they’re built to last, only means something if you know how to take proper care of your clothes. Stuffing them into overcrowded closets or sending them off to bad dry cleaners will shorten their life considerably. Fortunately, taking care of your clothes doesn’t require much work. You can accomplish it with just a few minutes a day.

For suits and sport coats, dry cleaning twice a year should be sufficient for anything that’s only worn once or twice a week. Sending it in more often than that will shorten the life and ruin the look of a jacket. That’s because most dry cleaners use harsh chemicals and give hard pressings. You can, of course, use a high-quality cleaner that doesn’t employ such methods, but those will cost you more money.

For every day care, brush the dirt out with a soft bristled garment brush. This will prevent them from getting deep into the fabric, where friction can damage the fibers. It’ll also knock out any food bits that may attract moths. You can buy garment brushes from Kent, though sometimes slightly imperfect ones can be had for a bit cheaper on eBay. For something truly nice, Linkson Jack has some brushes backed with oxhorn.

To begin brushing, wipe down any large, unfinished wooden table, and lay your garment down on the surface. A polished table may be too slippery, so if you only have one of those, put your garment on a blanket or strip of felt so it won’t slide about. If this doesn’t work, you can also brush your garment while it’s on a hanger (though I find it’s harder to really bring some pressure to bear on the brush this way). While brushing, use short flicks of the wrist and always brush in the same direction. Never, ever scrub. You can first brush against the nap to remove any dirt, and then down the nap for a smooth finish. Some people even recommend dampening the brush with some water first for a bit of a freshening up, though I’ve never found the need to do this.

For wrinkles, you can let your jackets hang for a day or two. Heavy wools and linens should naturally relax over time. If you still need to sharpen them up, try using a garment steamer, but be careful to stay away from the seams and don’t go too wild with the device. Otherwise, you can ruin the stitching and take out the shape. Afterwards, hang your jacket on a hanger with flared shoulders. The Hanger Project makes the nicest ones I know of. The width and curvature of their shoulders most closely imitate a man’s natural shoulders, which is what you want. If you can’t afford them, however, Wooden Hanger USA sells some very nice options starting at $7.

If your jackets are finely constructed, you may also want to send them in for a hand press once a year or so. This will help restore their shape, which is often what gives a suit its flattering silhouette. Note, a hand press is different from a machine press. Most places will offer the second, even if they advertise it as the first. Machine presses take shape out; hand presses put shape in. If you can’t find someone in your area who can give you this service, you can send your jackets to Rave Fabricare.

For trousers, I recommend a similar treatment. Wools and linens go to the dry cleaner, though perhaps a bit more frequently than jackets since they tend to get dirty quicker. Still, we’re only talking about three or four times a year. You can brush out most of the dirt each day with a garment brush. Casual cotton chinos can be machine washed, though I also send my nicer, dressier cotton trousers to the dry cleaner. That includes dress chinos, moleskins, and corduroys. 

For sweaters, some cotton sweatshirts can be machine washed, but most sweaters will be better served by an at-home hand wash. This is a rather simple process, and Jesse covered the how-to two years ago in this post.

For shirts, pre-treat any stained collars and cuffs with Octagon Bar Soap. Soak your shirt in some water, rub the soap in, and scrub with a fingernail brush. Repeat until you see the dirt rings start fading. Then roll up your wet, soapy shirt and leave it overnight in a plastic bag so that it remains moist. The next day, just launder as usual. Alex Kabbaz, one of America’s best custom shirt makers, recommends Tide’s Unscented Original. I use Ecover, and mix in some Oxiclean if my shirts are extra dirty (as per Jesse’s recommendation). To protect the mother of pearl buttons, I sometimes button my shirts and turn them inside out.

For machine washes, you should always try to use the cold water, gentle cycle, but if you really need to treat stains, hot water for whites and warm water for light colors is often acceptable. Dark colors, however, should always be washed with cold water. After the wash, I strongly recommend hang drying. Machine dryers can take the humidity out of your fabrics, leaving them dull and brittle, which will eventually give them a premature worn-out appearance.

As always, make sure you always consult your garment’s care label for more instructions. They’ll usually at least tell you the bare minimum you have to adhere to.

(Photo from The Trad

Men’s Ex on Shoe Care

If you’re interested in knowing how to fully take care of your shoes, StyleForum member Nutcracker has kindly taken the time to translate and upload a few helpful pages from Men’s Ex’s (a popular Japanese menswear magazine, for those unfamiliar). This is from their special issue on shoe maintenance, and this particular section shows the shoe polishing methods of two professional shoeshiners in Japan – Hasegawa Yuya from Brift H and Matsumuro Shiniricho from Maestro.

Granted, I think the tutorial makes the process seem a bit more complicated than it needs to be. Ninety percent of what you need to know about proper shoe care is covered by Jesse in our first season’s episode on shoes. However, if you’d like to go a bit further, these pages show you how to do things such as take care of your sole edges, strip down wax buildup, and give your shoes a bullshine. You can enlarge the images by opening them in a new window (on my Mac, I just put my mouse over the image and hit “Open Link in New Window”).  

Beware of Steamers
A garment steamer, like the one you see above, can be useful to take out wrinkles. If you use one, however, you should be aware: what seems to be a rather simple and innocuous device is actually something that can ruin your clothes.
This has been something of a crusade for tailors such as Jeffery Diduch (though he’s certainly not alone in the opinion). The logic here is straightforward: for high-quality garments, a fully canvassed jacket will have been carefully molded and shaped through a lot of hand pressing. As I’ve written before, a well-tailored jacket has a certain three-dimensional shape. You may notice a convex curve at the chest, concave curve at the waist, and maybe even a well-shaped, cylindrical sleeve. These aren’t formed by just cutting pieces of cloth to a certain pattern, but also by shaping the wool with a heavy iron.
A garment steamer can destroy a lot of this work. To understand how, imagine what would happen if you blew hot steam through a woman’s hair after it’s been carefully done up through curlers and ironing. It would go limp – her hair would relax and the shape would fall out. Wool is the same way. Which is why, given how much handwork goes into a well-tailored jacket, and how much value that work imparts, one should reconsider garment steamers.
Another, arguably larger, danger looms for fused jackets. There, hot steam can delaminate the fusible interlining inside, which then can result in bubbling. If you don’t believe this can happen, know that in order to delaminate jackets, factories do exactly this: blow hot steam through a jacket. The only way to prevent delamination is to apply both hot steam and pressure. Without the second ingredient, you risk a separation of the layers.
So then what to do about wrinkles? Jeffery has often recommended that men learn how to press their own jackets, but this isn’t the same as ironing your shirts. In fact, the key here is to not iron, but press, and to learn how to do that properly, you should read Jeffery’s tutorial.
Jeffery’s write is well done and detailed, but I admit I’ll never try doing such a thing. I just don’t have any confidence I’d do it right. So, if you’re in the same boat, I’d recommend sending it to someone who can do it professionally. Note, most dry cleaners will say they offer this service, but what they’re actually doing is putting your jacket over a form and blowing hot steam through it. Not what you want. Make sure you’re getting a true hand press. If you can’t find someone local for this, I recommend RAVE FabriCARE.
But what if you just need something quickly done? Sending your garments in for a professional press after every wear seems excessive. If you have small areas with wrinkles – say at the back of your trousers’ knees or behind the elbows – I think it’s reasonable to carefully and judiciously apply a very light amount of steam for a short period of time. Note, many tailors I know will still wince at this suggestion, but I think it’s the most reasonable “middle road.” Certainly don’t go crazy with your steamer, and don’t steam areas that have been heavily shaped (such as the chest). Try to avoid areas with canvassing, and even sections with seams (as you can blow them out). Just light, gentle, and careful steaming. This, in my opinion, is certainly better than the often passed-around advice of putting your tailored jackets in the bathroom with you while you take a shower. There, the steam won’t be targeted at all, and you can end up wearing the man’s clothing version of a woman’s limp hairdo.
(Photo from Overstock)

Beware of Steamers

A garment steamer, like the one you see above, can be useful to take out wrinkles. If you use one, however, you should be aware: what seems to be a rather simple and innocuous device is actually something that can ruin your clothes.

This has been something of a crusade for tailors such as Jeffery Diduch (though he’s certainly not alone in the opinion). The logic here is straightforward: for high-quality garments, a fully canvassed jacket will have been carefully molded and shaped through a lot of hand pressing. As I’ve written before, a well-tailored jacket has a certain three-dimensional shape. You may notice a convex curve at the chest, concave curve at the waist, and maybe even a well-shaped, cylindrical sleeve. These aren’t formed by just cutting pieces of cloth to a certain pattern, but also by shaping the wool with a heavy iron.

A garment steamer can destroy a lot of this work. To understand how, imagine what would happen if you blew hot steam through a woman’s hair after it’s been carefully done up through curlers and ironing. It would go limp – her hair would relax and the shape would fall out. Wool is the same way. Which is why, given how much handwork goes into a well-tailored jacket, and how much value that work imparts, one should reconsider garment steamers.

Another, arguably larger, danger looms for fused jackets. There, hot steam can delaminate the fusible interlining inside, which then can result in bubbling. If you don’t believe this can happen, know that in order to delaminate jackets, factories do exactly this: blow hot steam through a jacket. The only way to prevent delamination is to apply both hot steam and pressure. Without the second ingredient, you risk a separation of the layers.

So then what to do about wrinkles? Jeffery has often recommended that men learn how to press their own jackets, but this isn’t the same as ironing your shirts. In fact, the key here is to not iron, but press, and to learn how to do that properly, you should read Jeffery’s tutorial.

Jeffery’s write is well done and detailed, but I admit I’ll never try doing such a thing. I just don’t have any confidence I’d do it right. So, if you’re in the same boat, I’d recommend sending it to someone who can do it professionally. Note, most dry cleaners will say they offer this service, but what they’re actually doing is putting your jacket over a form and blowing hot steam through it. Not what you want. Make sure you’re getting a true hand press. If you can’t find someone local for this, I recommend RAVE FabriCARE.

But what if you just need something quickly done? Sending your garments in for a professional press after every wear seems excessive. If you have small areas with wrinkles – say at the back of your trousers’ knees or behind the elbows – I think it’s reasonable to carefully and judiciously apply a very light amount of steam for a short period of time. Note, many tailors I know will still wince at this suggestion, but I think it’s the most reasonable “middle road.” Certainly don’t go crazy with your steamer, and don’t steam areas that have been heavily shaped (such as the chest). Try to avoid areas with canvassing, and even sections with seams (as you can blow them out). Just light, gentle, and careful steaming. This, in my opinion, is certainly better than the often passed-around advice of putting your tailored jackets in the bathroom with you while you take a shower. There, the steam won’t be targeted at all, and you can end up wearing the man’s clothing version of a woman’s limp hairdo.

(Photo from Overstock)

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.