Caring for your Suits, Sportcoats and Blazers

This entry was posted on January 16, 2012 under Product Care. Written by:



There’s an old song lyric that goes “You couldn’t be keener/You look so fresh from the cleaner.”

In fact, looking fresh from the dry cleaner is not a good thing, since it probably means your jacket looks stiff, the lapel roll has been pressed flat, and you smell like chemicals.

Eco types often point out how environmentally unfriendly dry cleaning is, and we’re here to say it’s not exactly gentle on your favorite suits, blazers and sportcoats either. The truth is if you want to clothing to last, you should adopt a home maintenance regimen and dry clean your clothing as infrequently as possible. Here are some reasons why.

The chemicals used in dry cleaning are harsh on clothing fabrics. The more you clean a garment, the more you shorten its life. Dry cleaning can also leave an unpleasant sheen on suits, leave them stiff, rather than molded to your body, and can flatten out a rakish lapel roll.

Unless a jacket has become soiled or stained, you probably only need to clean it once a year, and can keep it fresh with a few simple things you can do at home.

If you have a back yard (or penthouse balcony, for that matter), hang your clothing periodically outside. Fresh air does wonders. If you’re an urban apartment dweller, you can hang your jacket in the bathroom while you take a hot shower and the steam will remove odors and freshen the fabric. A clothes brush is another inexpensive way to remove dirt and contaminants from your jackets.

If you’re a major league clotheshorse, you can invest in a clothing steamer and hardly ever have to visit the dry cleaner again. Figure $50-$250, depending on how serious you want to get.

If you live in a climate that requires a seasonal wardrobe, then you’ll need to store your clothing somewhere cool and dry to protect it from hungry moths and dust mites. This is a good time to do your annual cleaning, since you don’t want to put them in storage for six months with stains and odors that can set in. Store your clothing in garment bags, with experts advising muslin or canvas bags rather than plastic for their superior breathing properties.

Finally, lest the dry cleaning industry cry foul, some cleaners are better than others. With a little research, you can probably find one in your area that specializes in chemical-free, environmentally friendly cleaning, and provides a gentle cleaning that goes easy on delicate fabrics.

Finally, trousers are a different story, and you will probably need to have them cleaned throughout the season. They’re less prone to having their construction botched (like a jacket’s lapel roll) and they pick up more dirt since you’re sitting on them. And when trousers come back from the cleaners, they’ve got a tight crease that, like a fresh haircut, makes you look and feel great. Better to be sharp as a tack than fresh from the cleaner.



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7 Comments to “Caring for your Suits, Sportcoats and Blazers”

  1. James Ferguson says:

    You guys (gals) are good, and with the price of dry cleaning increasing seemingly on a daily basis I appreciate the advice. But what about shirts? I note that my shirts shrink considerably aftr a few launderings? What is the best shirt to but to avoid this or reduce this?

  2. LauraH says:

    Great question, James!

    All 100% cotton dress shirts will experience some shrinkage. Because of this, we actually oversize our dress shirts 1/2″ to allow for shrinkage. As a result of this, the shirts should be large when they are first received. We recommend 2-3 launderings for the shirts to shrink to the proper size; however, you should notice quite a bit of difference after the first laundering.

    If the dress shirts fit you just right directly out for the package, then I would suggest exchanging the shirts for the next size up. Otherwise, they most likely will not fit comfortably after the shrinkage occurs.

    Also, heavy starching will accelerate shrinkage and will also break down the cotton fibers. To get the longest life expectancy from your dress shirts, we recommend cold-water washing, tumble dry-delicate cycles. Remove the shirts and use a warm iron while slightly damp. If you prefer to have them professionally laundered, we suggest cool water and very light – to no starch.

    If you have any further questions, please let us know!

  3. Demetrious says:

    thank you for the tip on dry cleaning,you learn something new
    everyday.Paul Fredrick keep up the good work.

  4. LauraH says:

    Thank you for taking the time to post your comments, Demetrious! We are glad that the information in this post was beneficial for you.

  5. Dee Jay says:

    If you don’t dry clean the suit jacket every other time you dry clean the pants, eventually the two garments’ color will no longer match.

  6. George says:

    Today, jackets and pants are much more snug. I find that after wearing a blazer a few times, the underarms tend to smell like BO. Any suggestions of good products to use to remove odors? Thanks for the post.

  7. Thank you for your question, George! We always recommend that sport coats, as well as other tailored clothing pieces be dry-cleaned. This should typically take care of any odor problems as well as extend the life of your garment. If the problem persists we recommend consulting your dry-cleaning professional for further care instructions.

    If you have any questions or need further assistance, please let us know!

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