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A GUIDE TO TAKING CARE OF YOUR CLOTHES
GARMENT CARE, MAINTENANCE, STORAGE AND GOOD PRACTICE
Picture the scene, you're sat at home and your phone rings unexpectedly, it's that girl you've liked for ages and she's asked you to go for a drink. This is a situation that in the parlance of noted Thespian Sir Daniel Dyer will require some "proper clobber".
You race upstairs to get changed, open your wardrobe, only to find that your shirts are creased, your jeans are full of holes, your shoes are falling apart and your boxers won't be inspiring a sexual revolution any time soon.
A harrowing story indeed, and one that I know only too well; just over three years ago I departed for university with a wonderful wardrobe and then due to a mixture of laziness and a distinct lack of knowledge I returned with a woeful one. Luckily though, I learn from my mistakes.
Looking after your clothes properly is not just a suggestion, it's absolutely essential; your clothes will look better, they'll feel better and they will last longer. Any gentleman worth his sartorial salt will know that taking care can be a difference - here's what you need to know.
I firmly believe that shoes are the most important part of any outfit and not just because they can elevate a look from good to great, but because they are the part of your ensemble that is exposed to the elements more than any other. Sure your raincoat may take a battering when the weather is bad but your shoes come into contact with concrete, puddles, rain, snow, grit and quite possibly the aftermath of a dog’s dinner. Simply put, your shoes take a battering, so you'll want to keep them looking their best.
The first and most important part of shoe care is to buy quality shoes, cheap shoes are a false economy in they won't last very long at all and moreover when they break there's nothing you can do for them. Invest in quality shoes with Goodyear welted soles and don't be afraid to spend a bit more money.
Secondly, find a good cobbler near where you live, when your shoes run into problems they will be invaluable. As for home care you should also invest in shoe-trees, a shoe tree will help your shoes dry out and keep their shape over time. It is as important to polish/clean your shoes. Personally instead of a polish I use a neutral shoe cream, mostly because it can be used with all different colours of leather and it has the added benefit of not only cleaning your shoes but protecting them as well. Wipe your shoes with a damp cloth to remove excess dirt, apply the shoe cream and buff until shiny.
My final shoe tip is dubbin, dubbin waterproofs, protects and conditions the leather ensuring that your shoes stay in top condition even after you've dragged them through the trenches. In regards to suede, you can't polish them, so use a suede eraser to get rid of small blemishes and a suede brush to restore the fuzz to the leather.
Caring for your shirts is easy, and is best explained in three steps. First wash your shirts after using them making sure you look at the label and wash them in the correct way. Secondly press the shirt, a shirt is one of the hardest things to iron but it's worth mastering because you're not going to impress anyone with a wrinkly shirt.
Lastly, how you store your shirt is vitally important, hang them. Don't fold them and put them in the drawer. Wood hangers or thick plastic ones are best as they will help your shirt keep its shape.
A suit is a big style investment for any man, and like any investment you need to take care of it. If you wear a lot of suits, either for business or for pleasure then it's a good idea to rotate them. In an ideal world you'd have one for each day of the week but for most of us that's not an option, if you have two suits, then wear them on alternate days. When you buy a suit, buy more than one pair of trousers because these usually wear through first, it's probably all that sitting down you're doing. Dry clean your suits, but only twice a year (unless you have a stain) as the process and chemicals can damage the fabric.
Make sure you hang your suit properly on the correct hanger and use the suit covering you got when you bought it to protect it from anything untoward that may be lurking in your cupboard. Finally, use a steam iron to keep it clean and pressed and in the morning, use a clothes brush to get rid of any stray bits of fluff or hair still clinging defiantly to the fabric.
If your jeans are made out of raw denim then try to avoid washing them for at least six months to get them to wear in naturally so you get that fade that you crave (sorry), obviously six months is just an estimation and depends entirely on how often you wear them, if you wear them every day they're going to break in a lot quicker than if you wear them every other weekend. That being said, not washing your jeans because you want to break them in should also depend on whether or not they smell.
Learn to fold
Yes I know your mum used to do it, but folding your clothes is a really important part of caring for your wardrobe. Personally I used to have an almost pathological aversion to folding, I was firmly in the "that will do" camp, sort of half-heartedly rolling things up and shoving them into drawers. This was one of the main sources of my wardrobe worries while I was at university and really, there's absolutely no excuse for it. It's just plain lazy, there's no point washing and ironing something if you're just going to shove it in a drawer.
That was my brief guide to taking care of your wardrobe, if you're like me, you spend an awful lot of money on clothes so it's your duty to take care of them, when the time comes to update your wardrobe you can throw your old clothes away safe in the knowledge that you took care of them, better yet why not donate them to a charity, I'm sure they would appreciate the gesture even more if your clothes were in good nick.