How to extend the life of your wardrobe

So, you’ve finally built the bespoke wardrobe of your dreams. You’ve got the gear for any occasion and you’re confidently suited and booted for every season. Wedding in Tuscany, boardroom business, day at the races – you’ve nailed your look.

We understand better than most how long it takes to curate the perfect wardrobe, which is why it pains us so much to hear of shiny navy suits, curling collars or  – the horror – moth-eaten cashmere.

Sadly, clothes don’t last forever. But, with these nifty tips and tricks to help increase the lifespan of your favourite garments, you can get pretty close.

Tip 1: Does it need washing?

The more you wash clothes, the quicker they wear away. Your high-quality suit doesn’t need to be washed after every use, it’s designed to be brush-cleaned. Clean small stains with water and a soft towel, and make sure you give your suit a gentle once-over with a horsehair brush when you’re done for the day to remove lint and other particles.

There’s no set rule on how often a suit should be dry cleaned, but we recommend dropping it off at your cleaners after every four to five wears.

Tip 2: When you must wash, do it properly

That said, I don’t think your friends will thank us too kindly if you choose to start squeezing four or five wears out of your dress shirts. But don’t just throw them in the machine with the rest of your clothes.

First, pay attention to the insides of your collars and cuffs, as this is where stains build up. Wash these immediately (along with any spillages) with an extra treatment or a paste of detergent and water.

Turn your shirts inside out and wash like colours together to keep vibrancy. And always unbutton your shirts and cuffs to prevent buttons from coming loose. Remember to wash on a low heat too, to avoid misshaping. You can clean t-shirts on a cold wash to keep them in pristine condition.

Tip 3: Give your clothes a break

While you can get rid of dust and food particles pretty quickly, it takes a little longer to release all of that moisture build-up. When you get home or back to your hotel room, let the fibres relax by hanging your suit up for at least 24 hours (48 hours for heavier fabrics). This will help get it back to its optimal drape.

Tip 4: Press properly

Dryers are a number one enemy for beautiful clothes as they break down the fibres of the fabric, causing garments to shrink and age prematurely. Instead of tumble drying, air dry your shirts on a wooden hanger. Just make sure the width of the hanger doesn’t outstretch the width of the shoulders, as this can give an uneven shape.

When it comes to ironing your shirts, never use a dry iron as this will give a strange sheen to the fabric. Instead, get a good steamer or bring your shirts to the dry cleaners and ask them to press them.

Tip 5: Keep your clothes cool

Heat doesn’t help any garment, but humidity and moisture cause collars to curl. Keep them cool and dry, or use a room humidifier to prevent unsightly collars. Never let your shirts sit in the washer for longer than needed either, as this accelerates curling. Simply steam when damp and keep the top button fastened when hanging to keep the shape. A stiffener is a nifty device that prevents curling, too.

Tip 6: Store your clothes with care

Storage is where a lot of the good work comes undone. To keep your wardrobe in tip-top condition…

  • Use the dust bags we provide at Ascots & Chapels to prevent moth damage. The bags are made from breathable materials that promote air circulation while keeping out dust, water and pesky moths.
  • Always use wood or plastic hangers with rounded edges that fill out the shoulders of your suit. This will encourage your garment to retain its shape while allowing moisture to exit.
  • Periodically de-clutter your wardrobe. If packed too closely, garments will wrinkle and air won’t be able to circulate, which can build up humidity and damage fibres.
  • Never hang t-shirts, as this can stretch them and create unsightly hanger marks. Folding them upright will keep them fluffy.
  • Use cedar blocks liberally. They act as a natural moth repellent and absorb residual moisture to help keep your clothes pristine.
  • If you need to pack your suit away for the season, have it dry-cleaned beforehand to strip it of any dust and food particles that might appeal to moths.

Tip 7: Perfect the art of packing

To keep your suit immaculate and in good condition on holiday or business trips, use a suitcase designed for tailored clothes. Alternatively, turn your suit inside out, put the shoulders together and roll it up, making sure the seams and lapels are lined up. Use a plastic or cardboard band to help maintain the shirt collar shape, and place a sheet of paper on the back of your shirt before folding.

So, there we go, gents. Your go-to guide for keeping your wardrobe as good-looking as you.

Pop into your favourite store for more tips and quality garments that – provided you look after them – will last as long as you.

Author: Gary Sweeney