Why clothes are like cars
No matter how much it cost, dirty, sloppy or untidy clothing will make you look cheap, says Melbourne-based fashion stylist Philip Boon.
Some of the big mistakes that men make when it comes to clothes-care include not getting items tailored, throwing clothes on the floor at the end of the day and having suits dry cleaned too much.
But, caring for your clothes doesn't have to be hard work. Here are the experts' tips on how to extend the life of your clothing.
Shirts: It's fine to wash shirts frequently. You can take them to a dry cleaner to have them washed and pressed, or if your shirts are made of cotton, you can wash them at home at 30 or 40 degrees, then hang them up to dry, says Boon. Iron any shirts while they're still damp (but not wet) to help them keep their shape.
You should also try to hang your shirts between wears, but ironing and then folding when dry also works, says Boon.
Collars and cuffs get dirtier than the rest of the shirt (as I'm sure you've noticed). You can use intensive laundering products, such as Vanish and Sard Wonder Soap, to keep them looking fresh, but avoid bleach as your risk turning your clothes yellow, warns Boon.
If stains are really engrained, it's worth taking good quality shirts to a dry cleaner.
Suits: Tailoring doesn't just make a suit look better on your body, it can make it last longer too by preventing unecessary wear and tear. All trousers should be taken up. If they're a slim-fit, they should sit where your foot meets the ankle, says Boon. For looser suits, there should be one kink where the suit folds at your shoe. Always leave a good inch above the heel of your shoe, to ensure your trousers don't get wet. Jacket sleeves should also show about 1cm of shirt-sleeve, otherwise they're too long, he adds.
The most important rule when it comes to extending the life or your suit, is not to wear it two days in a row, says Patrick Johnson, designer and owner of P. Johnson tailors. This, of course, means having more than one suit in your wardrobe if you wear them to work.
If a suit will get a lot of use, consider buying two pairs of pants for each jacket, as they wear more quickly, he adds.
And while you want to go easy on wearing your suit, you also need to ease up on cleaning. "Unless a suit is visibly stained it probably shouldn't be dry cleaned more than twice a year," says Johnson.
It's also important to find a good dry cleaner, as an inexperienced one can end up burning the canvas of the suit slightly, altering the fit, he says. High-end stores often facilitate this process for their customers, so it's worth asking the shop where you buy your suit for recommendations.
Johnson recommends always hanging up a suit to air for 24 hours after you wear it. "It's no fun, but even if you come home drunk, you have to hang your suit up," he insists. He also suggests brushing a suit with a natural bristle clothes brush after each wear. Avoid removing any lint or fluff with sticky tape, as they may damage the fibre of your suit, he adds.
If your suit is looking a little tired between dry-cleans, Johnson suggests putting it on a hanger in a closed bathroom and running the hot water for a while. This will effectively steam the suit and drop any light creases (and odours) out. If there are serious creases and you don't have time to get the suit professionally pressed, you can put some cotton over the top and then lightly iron on a cool setting, he adds.
Ties: There's no reason a quality, silk-lined neckpiece shouldn't last your lifetime.
Unfortunately, making it last means that having your tie ripped off in passion is a no-no.
OK, there are circumstances where this may be unavoidable, but you should generally try to undo the knot first and then take it off your neck gently in order to not damage the silk.
Once it's off, roll it and store it overnight in order to take out any creases. For long-term storage, hang it if it's silk, however knitted ties, (something that Theo Poulakis co-founder of men's luxury department store Harrolds, recommends all men should have) should be kept rolled.
When it comes to keeping ties clean, prevention is better than a cure. Spaghetti bolognaise and your best tie sadly don't mix, as the stains are almost be impossible to clean. While neckties should never be washed and dry cleaning can be harsh on them, warm water and stain remover can be used on some marks. But, patch-test any chemicals on an unseen area first.
Shoes: Boot-care camp should be compulsory as shoes are the item of clothing that most clearly show damage. Nothing is more unappealing or obvious than scuffed shoes, says Paul Waddy, designer of shoe label Antoine+Stanley.
Just like suits, shoes should never be worn two days in a row, he says, a mistake that many men make when buying just one pair of shoes for work.
"Shoes need time to dry and regain their shape after being worn," he says.
Shoes should ideally be gently hung on a shoetree after wearing to dry out, and should be polished regularly in order to keep the leather in good condition. Waddy also recommends scotch guarding all leather and suede shoes before wearing.
Make friends with a good cobbler and get shoes resoled as soon as they start showing signs of wearing down, he adds. If you've invested in good quality leather shoes, a cobbler should be able to get most scuffs and marks out of your shoes to extend their life.
If this all sounds like a lot of hard work, don't forget that a little care goes a long way. Leather shoes should be able to last you a decade if you treat them nicely.
Casual wear: Casual wear is a little easier to look after, as it is meant to look lived in. That said, fit is still king. Make sure your jeans are the right length and don't buy a size too big, warns Donny Galella, stylist with Westfield and fashion writer. Most denim will stretch, so he advises his clients to buy a size smaller if they want a slim fit.
Knitwear should generally be folded and laid flat to avoid stretching. And hopefully we don't have to tell you that you shouldn't wash cashmere or wool – hand wash them in cool water with a wool wash and lay them flat and out of direct sunlight to dry.
If in doubt, wash your clothes in cold water on their own and iron at a cool temperature.
Storage: While all clothes need to be stored differently depending on their fabric and purpose, there are tricks to keep your wardrobe free of mould and pests and looking neat.
First things first, throw out all of your wire hangers, says Galella. If you're investing in quality clothes, you MUST invest in quality hangers, he adds. "It only costs another $1 or so to get wooden hangers, and it will help to maintain the shape of your clothes."
When it comes to suits, Johnson recommends you hang your suits with enough space to not get creased. He recommends keeping them in a fabric suit bag, but never a plastic one, as this can lead to mould. If you live in a humid region, you can avoid pulling out a mouldy $2,000 suit by putting an open container of chalk in your cupboard to help absorb moisture, or purchasing a hanging moisture absorber from the supermarket.
As for shoes, they should be stored in the dust bag they're sold in in order to keep them clean, says Waddy. Again, keep them in a dry wardrobe, especially suede shoes, which are prone to grow mould.
When storing anything long term, make sure it's in a cool, dry area and that all clothes are completely clean before they're put away. Anti-moth sachets can help to keep moths out of your investment items.
Finally, invest in clothes you love and take care of them. "It's about buying beautiful products that 10 years down the track you'll still be thrilled to wear," says Poulakis.
Ready to roll ... keep ties in top form and they'll last a lifetime. Photo: Nic Walker
Sam de Brito guides us through the process of investing in your first high quality suit, finding the right cut for your body, and caring for your garment.
Expert guides on choosing a wardrobe for those who want to look the business at work and at play.