Caring is Sharing: How to Care for Your New Suit

While Brown in Town endeavour to furnish each and every customer with the necessary instructions to maintain their suits, shirts, overcoats and even shoes, I thought it might prove useful to record these simple step-by-step instructions between the pages of the Brown in Town advisory, for ease of reference. So here goes;

Unless something has been spilled on your suit, or overcoat (see cleaning, below), all that is typically required to keep your suit clean, and in good working order is a clothes brush and the occasional steaming and pressing (see below). The benefit of brushing one’s suit is to keep the cloth dust and lint free, obvious, no? But if I said that it is the ‘nap’ (fibres) of a suits cloth which provides it’s lustre, or lack thereof; nap is what absorbs light i.e. it does not reflect light, like a suit which has gone shiny does, you’d think twice about not brushing it, wouldn’t you?

You see, a cloths nap, is like the pile of a carpet i.e. it should be raised and standing to attention. Once the pile lies flat, you would typically replace the carpet, and where suits are concerned, the dreaded ‘shine’ will replace the natural lustre of your suits woollen cloth and, ergo, should be replaced. It is also worth noting that suits which are made of a mix of wool and polyester, or other manmade fibres, will adopt this shine before pure wool suiting cloth will, but should be brushed all the same, as a matter of course.

Before you remove your suit at the end of each day, simply brush it with a soft pure bristle clothes brush i.e. bristles that will not tear at the cloth, but rather massage it. Pay particular attention to the shoulders of your jacket/coat, the elbows, the back and the lapels and front. Trousers should be brushed on the seat, at the knee and the ankles. Waistcoats merely require the front be brushed.

While dry cleaning one’s suit is a sure fire way to get it looking really clean, the chemical process will take it’s toll over time. Therefore, limit the dry cleaning of your suit, only cleaning it if really necessary i.e. something is spilled on it that is still visible 24 hours after the incident.

Whilst a clean suit is obviously better than a stained suit, the chemical process causes the wool ‘nap’ to flatten, lack lustre and eventually become shiny, and, over time, a little stiff.

Steaming and Pressing
Preferable to dry cleaning is steaming and pressing. A service which is provided by your dry cleaner, and one which not only costs less, but is also kinder to your suit and is often all that is required.

Suits made of wool, and even, I’d suggest, those made of linen or cotton, should not be machine washed. Shirts, on the other hand, can be machine washed on a cool wash i.e. 30 or 40 degrees, hung to dry then pressed, before their maiden voyage. That is not to say that shirts cannot be dry cleaned, but the laundering process is what softens the canvassing in the collars and cuffs of a new shirt, making them more comfortable to wear – it also eradicates the folding-creases of a new shirt. Thereafter, do you worst!

Shirts can pressed with a steam iron. The pressing of suits with a steam iron, should be avoided. If you are in a fix, and it is absolutely necessary to press your trousers (avoid pressing your jacket) at home, place a tea towel between the iron and the trousers being pressed to avoid scorching the cloth. Press each crease in turn and lay it on the board furthest away from you, then turn them around to press the other. This prevents tram lines appearing on your trousers.

After a day’s wear, we suggest that you hang your suit outside of the wardrobe in order for it to air: wool is a natural fibre, and, as such, will self-clean if afforded the opportunity to breath/aerate. Each piece of your suit should be hung separately to facilitate this process.

Your jacket/coat should be hung on a moulded hanger which supports the entire shoulder pad. If the hanger supplied with your suit does not do this, invest in a wooden hanger (preferably cedar wood as the dreaded moth does not like cedar wood). However, ensure the hanger is no wider than the width of the shoulders as this will result in ‘points’ at the top of the sleeve head being made by the hangers arms.

Trousers should be hung using a traditional trouser clamp hanger (see image) i.e. upside down from the ankles. This facilitates the reshaping of one’s trousers at the knee (the stretching fore and the creasing aft)  as the weight of the waistband and pocket construction pulls them straight – this unfortunately will not work for your linen, or cotton trousers or slacks.

Waistcoats can be hung on a traditional wooden hanger, the type you would use for shirts.

All of the aforementioned accoutrements required for maintaining you suit are available from the Brown in Town atelier. If you’ve any queries regarding the care of your garment, or otherwise, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Take care out there.

Brown in Town