With money tight, we're all looking at ways to save some dosh and your wardrobe is a prime target. With a backlash against disposable fashion and more men buying 'investment' purchases, now's the perfect time to rediscover the gentlemanly art of wardrobe maintenance and learn how to protect your assets. Simply taking more care of your clothes can help you save an absolute packet.
Show moths some scare tactics
Ever bought a nice sweater one season only to discover that it's a string vest by the next? The culprit is the larvae of knitwear-noshing Tineola Bisselliella or the common clothes moth. They're most active in the spring and early summer but all-year-round vigilance is needed to eradicate them completely.
Start by using the Hoover (that weird thing under the stairs that sucks stuff up) to give your wardrobe and drawers a thorough clean (the moths lay their eggs in undisturbed household dust); kill any eggs by popping knitwear into your freezer overnight; always clean clothes before storing (moths love grease and grime) and invest in cedar wood mothballs (available from department stores) and sticky pheromone traps (from eBay) to eradicate breeding partners.
Let suits breathe to make them last
Never bung your suit into the wardrobe straight after taking it off. "Woollen suits need to be aired for 24 hours after each wearing," says Jeff Stone, author of Men's Wardrobe. Not only does this allow a day's worth of smells to dissipate, it also gives the fabric time to settle and regain its resiliency. "If this routine's followed, suits will require very few dry cleanings as little as once a season," he says. Oh, and never store suits in dry cleaning bags either as they tend to trap moisture against the fabric.
Take care of your trousers
For trousers you can be proud of, avoid shuffling around while seated on leather sofas (they'll cause the fabric to shine and people will think you've got piles). Never overstuff your pockets (it stresses the fabric) and always hitch your trousers up when you sit to prevent stretching around the knees.
And at the end of the day hang trousers from their bottoms. "The weight of the trouser allows the creases to fall out," says tailor Tony Lutwyche of Lutwyche Bespoke in London. Use hangers with trouser clips and avoid wire hangers like the plague. They just cause creases. Keep one handy for unblocking the toilet though...
Show your shoes some love
To keep shoes in tip-top condition, insert wooden shoe trees. Not only will they help maintain the shoes' shape, they'll also help reduce creases, make polishing much easier and can helping prolong the life of your shoes. Cedar ones are particularly good because the wood has a natural ability to absorb moisture, acid and salt.
Don't let the sun go down on stains
If you want to avoid yellow sweat stains appearing on your best work shirts, you need to act fast. Never leave dirty clothes in a laundry basket for days or the stain will dry and set. Instead, treat the area as soon as you take your shirt off and wash immediately.
If white shirts do get discoloured brighten them by adding a 1/4 of a cupful of baking soda to your wash, along with your regular soap powder. This will help bring out their whiteness, eliminate any nasty whiffs and will help tackle any yellow sweat stains around the armpits too.
Double up on trousers
Since suit trousers always wear out faster than jackets, think about buying an extra pair if you're buying off-the-peg separates. If you're having a bespoke suit made, order an extra pair of trousers. It may seem like an unnecessary extra cost but it's well worth it in the long run (especially if your suit is made from a lightweight fabric). It can vastly increase the longevity of your favourite work suit.
Polish to prolong
Like teeth, shoes need regular maintenance and regular polishing if they're to look their best. Like teeth, the more you look after them the longer they'll serve you. According to Style Consultant Carol Spenser, though, when it comes to polishing it's all about timing. "The best time to polish your shoes is immediately after wearing," she says. "The polish will sink easily into the warm leather and will help condition the shoes overnight."
To make sure the polish is properly absorbed, remove all traces of dirt first with a soft, damp cloth and leave the polish on the leather for a full five minutes before removing with a cloth and buffing to a gleaming shine.
Don't tug on your tie
Many ties are thrown away each year because they get torn or pulled out of shape so to make sure yours say the course, never leave them knotted (it causes permanent damage) or remove one by yanking it loose and pulling it over your head. "This damages the internal structure of the tie and that means it won't hang properly," says tailor Tony Lutwyche of Lutwyche Bespoke.
"Instead, loosen the tie gently, then undo it in the reverse order to tying it up." To store, always hang it on a tie rack to allow creases to drop out and to allow the fabric to dry and air naturally between wearings. Never fold them and only roll if they're knitted or crocheted.
Always dry out shoes naturally
If shoes or trainers get a soaking, always let them dry out naturally. Don't dry them on radiators, with hairdryers or in the microwave (it has been known!) - you'll cause the leather to contract and warp and loosen the shoes' bonding. Instead, stuff the toes with newspaper and leave to dry naturally, changing the paper regularly.
Follow these tips and you'll be sartorially savvy in no time. What's more your clothes will need replacing less often, you'll save on cleaning bills and have more money to spend on the real essentials like that Entourage
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