A suit is an investment; it’s a higher priced item that you’ll generally keep for at least a few years, and it’s usually worn when you need to look your best. If you’re a businessman, then your suits will be some of the hardest working items in your wardrobe. And if you only wear them for weddings and parties? Well they probably work just as hard. Because of all this, and like all good investments, suits require maintenance - that maintenance can be broken down into these fundamental steps. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get started.
Brushing & Breathing
Think brushing is reserved for your hair and teeth? Think again. Investing in a clothes brush made from natural fibres is a wise move for suit fans. After each wear, brush your suit to remove dust and dirt - this prevents them settling into the fabric. Once you’ve done this, drape your suit on a chair to let it ventilate and breath, counteracting the bodily odours its collected over the course of the day.
All hangars are the same right? Wrong. Proper hanging is the key to ensuring your suit looks good between wears and drycleaning. And of course, no matter how tired you are, don’t leave your suit in a pile on the floor.
Never use wire or wooden hangers that have pointed ends - these can distort the jacket’s shoulders. Instead opt for a wooden or plastic hanger that has curved ends and is chunkier in shape - this preserves the jacket’s shape and can support the weight of a full suit. Wooden hangers are a better bet as they help absorb moisture from the fabric.
A suit hanger should also feature a horizontal bar on which to drape the pants. When hanging your suit pants, folding is key. The fly should fold inwards, with the front crease of the trousers on one side, and the centre back on the other. Drape over the hanger bar so the weight of the trousers is distributed evenly.
If you have a few suits, or don’t wear yours often, invest in a cloth suit bag to protect your suit while it’s off duty - it not only protects from dust but also encourages airflow, keeping your suit fresh.
Every now and then your suit will need a proper dryclean. Find a drycleaner who specialises in suits; do some research online, ask your well-dressed friends who they use. But beware, drycleaning too often can cause a suit to wear out faster than it would normally, as the chemicals used strip the fibres of natural oils - therefore we recommend only drycleaning when absolutely necessary. When to dryclean? Do the sniff test. If your suit is starting to give off an “aroma” or is noticeably dirty then it’s time to take it to the cleaners.
If you just have a small stain or some dirt on your suit, that can be tackled at home - saving you money, and preserving the life of your suit. It’s important to prevent a stain “setting” (chemically bonding to the fabric) so any stains should be cleaned ASAP. Apply water immediately and dab with a clean cloth - ideally cotton. Don’t scrub, this can damage the fabric and push the stain in deeper.
Once home, rewet the stain with water and dab with liquid laundry detergent, then run with cold water from the inside of the garment to push the stain out. If it’s a particularly bad stain, soak in warm water and detergent before repeating the spot cleaning process. For wine and sweat stains, wet with warm water then dust with salt and leave to stand (this draws the stain out) before rinsing and cleaning with detergent. Cotton, wool and synthetics can be spot cleaned. However a silk jacket (if you’re so inclined) will need to be immersed in water to prevent watermarks.
If you’re a regular suit wearer, consider investing in a steamer. These are far gentler on suit fabric than a traditional iron, which often adds a sheen to the fabric and can burn the fibres. You can also have your suit pressed at the drycleaners.
Going somewhere? Travelling for business (or weddings) is part of life for many of us. When travelling with a suit, try the technique called “the roll”. Turn your suit jacket inside out, fold the shoulders in so they meet, and the lapels of the jacket line up. Then start rolling from the hem upwards. Suit pants should be folded like you would to hang them, then rolled. Another technique is to fold the jacket in half from top to bottom (after completing the aforementioned steps) then folding your suit trousers around it. To refresh your suit once you’ve landed, hang it in the bathroom when you have a hot shower - the steam will restore the original drape of the suit and remove small creases.
As a rule, you shouldn’t wear the same suit two days in a row - it needs a few days off to breathe. Having a two or three suits on rotation means you’ll extend the life of each of them. If however you’re a one suit kind of guy (and bust it out for weddings and special events) invest in a cloth suit bag to protect your suit while its off duty, facilitating airflow. It’s also a good idea to invest in two pairs of trousers for each suit; trousers wear out faster than a jacket.
Lay it out
The final step of suit prep? Ensuring it looks good - after all, that’s why you invested in a suit in the first place. Lay out your suit, shirt and any accessories - this gives you a chance to assess your outfit and all it’s working parts. A couple of shirt and tie options gives you something to choose from and helps you make the right call.