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. 

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.