Shakespeare once wrote that “fashion wears out more apparel than the man,” meaning, of course, that clothing is more likely to become outmoded than worn out.
But clothing does wear out, especially the workhorses of your business wardrobe. Sport coats and blazers can last you for years, and good shoes can almost always be resoled and conditioned. But there are three items you should expect to wear out faster than others, and budget accordingly. In fact, it might be time to stop procrastinating, make a wardrobe inspection, and donate a bag of old clothes to your local thrift shop.
Here are the three items most likely to wear out:
Shirts: Dress shirts are primarily vulnerable to two things: sweat and laundering. Sweat creates unsightly ring around the collar, and once it’s there it’s not coming out. If your office dress code is business casual and you don’t wear a tie, check to make sure ring around the collar isn’t visible. And if your cuffs are starting to fray, no need to toss the shirt, just downgrade it to weekend wear.
To help extend the life of your shirts, wash them right away, before perspiration stains set in. Your drug store should also have stain-treatment sticks and gels to apply to your shirt collars BEFORE ring around the collar sets in. Hand washing, or machine washing but line drying, will also extend the life of your shirts. And if you send them to the cleaners, keep in mind that heavy starch weakens the fabric.
Trousers. There’s one thing that causes clothing to wear out: friction. And friction is especially tough on pants. The crotch area is the most vulnerable. Your legs rub together when you walk, weakening the fabric between your thighs. Eventually you’ll actually wear a hole through. So inspect your trousers here to see if they’ve run out of life.
Another place where men wear out their trousers is just above the knee. How do they do it? By leaning back in their reclining desk chair and holding themselves in place with their knees under the desk. “You’ll actually see guys in striped suits where the stripe above their knees has been completely worn away,” says New York-based tailor Paul Winston. Finally there’s the seat of the pants, which gets rubbed from sitting in a chair all day. This kind of friction gives wool an unsightly shiny appearance that tells you it’s time for new pants.
Because suit pants wear out much faster than suit jackets, in the old days suits were commonly sold with two pairs of pants to extend their life. This is something you can still do today at Paul Fredrick thanks to our suit separates.
Neckties. The sad part here is that the more you love a tie the more you wear it, and the more you wear it the faster you hasten its end. Ties get beaten out of shape from excessive knotting and will eventually have permanent creases and ripples. They also get pick up oils from your hands by being knotted and pulled into place over and over, and will eventually look soiled. Dry cleaning can help.
And if it doesn’t, well ties just happen to be one of our specialties.