Whether you are new to mens style or a veteran, there comes a time when, through the barrage of differing opinions, any man may become confused as to how to care for and store their nicer garments.

Today, we’re going to create a clear-cut, but simple, guide to taking care of your suits and, over the next few sections, the respective clothes that go with them (shirts, ties, etc.).

Suits are an integral part of every man’s wardrobe. They are typically the go-to dress for interviews, client meetings, and for some, going out on a Friday or Saturday evening. Because the suit is so essential to a man’s wardrobe, and typically the most expensive, it is imperative that they be cared for properly.

First and foremost, the jacket

This is the largest and most noticed part of the package. It is also, unfortunately, the most improperly cared for. Most men hang their suits with a regular hanger. Do not do this. A standard hanger with a tiny quarter inch width will destroy your shoulder pads over time.

To put it simply, the first rule of jacket hanging is “do not use thin hangers.” The second rule of jacket hanging is “do not use thin hangers.” Typically, a width between 1.5” and 2” is great. It will keep your suit’s shoulder pads in proper shape and free of creases, which in turn will make your suit look great.

Try to opt for cedar hangers as well; these will help prevent moths from eating your suit, absorb moisture, and give it a nice, manly scent. Also, try to keep the storage area cool and dry. The last thing you want is a moldy, moth-chewed suit. Use a dehumidifier if necessary.

If you’re worried about dust, simply cover the suit with the plastic bag that came with it or a garment bag.

Next up, the suiting pants

Suit pants are different and a bit more relative, but I prefer to use a clamp-style pants hanger. A clamp-style (pictured right) is basically a hanger hook with two strips of wood that clamp together. The pants are folded along the pleats (if applicable) and hung from the bottoms, between the clamp.

Clip-style hangers hang the pants from the waist and also fold along the pleats, but sometimes aligning them this way is a little difficult.

Finally, a normal hanger where the pants are folded along the pleats and folded in half over the hanger’s bar.

I personally prefer the clamp-style as these are the simplest to use and the easiest to align pleats. No matter which hanger style you choose, remember that cedar is always the best and worth it for paying a few bucks extra.

Finally, and applicable to both articles of clothing: never, ever iron the jacket or slacks yourself. Always have them professionally pressed. This service is usually free, or a nominal fee which everyone can afford.

Now, on to the final essential piece of the suit: The shoes

Care and storage

No matter what your shoes are made of, if they are fancy enough for a suit, they should be kept flat on their soles, with cedar shoe trees inserted. For those that have no idea what a ‘shoe tree’ is: it is basically a cedar (or plastic) mold of the general shape of a foot, which is inserted into the shoe to help it keep its proper shape.

They come in different sizes though, so be sure to know the size and especially the width of your shoe before you buy. If it is too large and/or wide, you’ll stretch the material, possibly irrevocability. If it is too small and/or narrow, it won’t provide the necessary support for the material and you’ll risk the shoe losing its form.

Similarly to the suit jacket, cedar is best as it absorbs moisture and helps keep moths away. That doesn’t mean you can keep your shoes in the dank, cold basement though. A closet is fine, so long as it is mostly dry and always room temperature.

Polishing

If your shoes are the typical leather shoe with laces (this means not boat shoes, driving moccasins, etc.), make sure you polish them about once a week.

If you wear them daily, going over them for a few minutes with a soft cloth will keep them looking smart between polishes.

To polish your dress shoes, start with a semi-coarse brush (but not so coarse that it will scratch the leather) to lift away any dirt or dried mud.

Apply the proper polish (make sure you use black on black, brown on brown, etc), and work it into the leather with a softer brush. Follow that up by going over each shoe with a soft cloth.

Editor’s note: Having a kit similar to this can be helpful. This is the one pictured above.

Finally

These are the most basic and simplest things that you can do to properly care for your suits and dress shoes. Taking these necessary steps will ensure that they last longer and keep their shape better, and who knows, maybe someday you can pass down those Allen Edmonds wingtips to your son.

Questions? Want Thom to elaborate? Leave em in the comments below.

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11 Responses

  1. Bradb on

    Could you elaborate a bit more on why you shouldn’t iron your slacks yourself? Having to wear a suit 5 days a week, I just don’t have the time to have my garments pressed. I’ve been ironing them myself for over 10 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever ruined a suit. Thanks!

    • Thom Douglas on

       Hey Brad,

      I was more concentrating on the guys who have less experience caring for this type of clothing. If you’ve been doing it for ten years and never ruined one, that’s awesome! I believe part of garment care needs to be that us men need to (eventually) understand how to care for our clothes ourself, so props to you, sir.

      Thanks for the question!

      – Thom

  2. Sam H on

    Another quality set of tips, thank you Thom. Question for you, is there any reason to advise against hanging your 2 or 3 piece suite together in the bag? Or would you recommend separating them out?

    Baron, this one applies slightly more to you (I think), I saw this infographic this week which I loved (http://blog.next.co.uk/tip-your-hat-to-mens-tailoring/), when I saw the theme of your series it immediately reminded me of it. Thought it was pretty useful too

    • Thom Douglas on

      Sam,

      Personally, I am not one to bag my suits unless absolutely necessary. I’ve only bagged when I was moving somewhere or flying. Really, it’s not terrible for it, but you might just want to get it pressed before you wear it.

      Another reason you might want to consider separating everything is versatility. Should you ever want to wear a pair of slacks with a different jacket, you can simply grab them off your rack, rather than having to disassemble the whole hanger.

      Great question, thanks, Sam.

      – Thom

  3. Chris. on

    I’m interested in dry cleaning – how often should I get my suit dry cleaned? Yes, I know when it’s dirty – but is there a rule on how many wears I should get out of it before I take it in?

    • Jackson on

      Dry clean your suit as infrequently as possible. There’s some pretty abrasive chemicals used in the process that can do a number on your suit – not only on the fabric, but on the construction as well, especially if its fused. Have it pressed if its looking a little shabby, and clean only when it really needs it.