Knowing how to care for your tailoring isn’t innate wisdom: after all, suit maintenance isn’t exactly the sort of thing you get taught at school. But if you want to extend the life of your suit and ensure your suit looks the business for years to come, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind. Here’s how it’s done.
Tinker & Tailor It
Professionally, of course. Once you’ve found a suit you like, buy the right size and get it tailored by an expert. It might sound simple but the best thing you can do to extend the life of your suit is to buy the right size. A tight suit will put added stress on the fabric and seams, which will cause damage in the long term. Off-the-peg is great, but nothing looks and feels like a properly fitted suit. When your new suit arrives take it to your nearest Paul Smith shop and our staff will work with you to create the perfect fit. This will include adjusting the trouser hems and maybe some other minor tweaks to the suit jacket or trousers to make it more custom to you – it’s the next best thing to bespoke or made-to-measure.
Take A Shower With It
OK, hear us out. This one is a tip for regular travellers, or anyone who’s short on time in the mornings: hang your suit in the bathroom when you shower. This hot water nearby will give the suit a gentle steam that simulates the use of a good steamer, and will help to deal with any creases, giving you that crisp look a new suit offers.
Steam (Don’t Iron)
On a similar topic: to protect the fine fabric of your suit, in the vast majority of cases, a suit should never be ironed – unless the care label specifically advises it’s OK. Instead, invest in a good steamer to smooth out any wrinkles and creases between wears – as a bonus, you’ll find it’ll also deodorise and lightly clean your suit at the same time. Don’t worry, you don’t need a commercial-grade appliance to do the job – any at-home model should suffice. It will also be an invaluable tool when it comes to caring for ties, shirts and more.
Give It A Brush
One pro tip is to use a suit brush to keep your suit in tip-top condition between wears. Giving your suit some regular attention from a good quality suit brush will help to remove dust and restore the fabric’s natural fibres and natural lustre before you wear it again. When you put your suit away, hang it in the suit bag with the zip left open. This will keep the dust off suits – wool suits in particular – while letting the fabric breathe. We recommend brushing your suit once before wearing it and once after. When brushing your suit, try to use gentle downward strokes. You can also combine this with the use of a lint roller. One thing to keep in mind: just avoid using a suit brush on delicate or slub fabrics, including linen. If you’re unsure or need some advice on using a suit brush, just pop in to a Paul Smith shop and one of our colleagues will show you how it’s done.
Spot Clean Stains
Cleaning your suit after every single wear is unnecessary and will degrade the fibres more quickly. In any case, the traditional suiting fibres – wool, mohair, cashmere – are natural yarns that are excellent at looking after themselves (with a little helping hand of course). Most of the time your suit will only need a quick brush down and an airing after each wear. If your suit smells of smoke or food, hanging it outside for a couple of hours should be enough to freshen it up. However, if you have a mishap, such as a spill or stain from food or drink, don’t panic – most marks will come out with a simple spot clean (using a damp cloth, or in a pinch, chemical-free baby wipes) and do not always require a trip to the dry cleaners.
Dry Clean (Irregularly)
On that note, like wool knitwear, you’ll find that most suits won’t fare well in a standard domestic washing machine – when the time comes for a deep clean, take your suit to the dry cleaner instead. Find a trusted specialist – and be on the lookout for eco-friendly dry cleaners – and make sure you tell them exactly what your suit is made from. The internal care label will tell you all you need to know about the fabric composition. For environmental and longevity reasons, we recommend dry-cleaning your suit no more than three times a year, whereas dress shirts for instance are more durable.
Follow The Twice-A-Week Rule
Just like you, your suit needs time to rest and recover. We suggest wearing a suit no more than twice a week, in rotation with other suits. This will allow the suit to air and regain its shape between outings. Another tip is to buy an extra pair of trousers. The trousers are the first things to show signs of wear, especially if you’re a desk-bound office worker, so an extra pair can help your suit age more evenly.
The suit should be well taken care of when not being worn too, for instance, avoid putting the suit on wire hangers when possible and opt for wooden hangers if you can. For jackets and blazers, it’s worth investing in specific jacket hangers that will maintain the shape and structure of your suit’s shoulders without stretching the fabric. This also applies when you’re out of the house – hang your jacket up properly rather than on the back of your chair or on a door hook to help it keep its shape. At home, you can also store your suits in garment bags – like the Paul Smith one your purchase came with – which will keep them wrinkle and dust free between wears.