Caring for your Suits, Sport Coats and Blazers

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 sport coats 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.


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

  4. 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. 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. 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!

  8. George – you don’t have to dry clean all the time. I have worked professional theater for years and dry cleaning is used as little as possible due to the chemicals and how they ruin fabric. Some costumes are very old and expensive. The best thing to get rid of order on fabric is Vodka – get cheap Vodka and put it in a spray bottle – the alcohol gets rid of the odor as well as the bacteria and drys very quickly. Even with the Russian ballet and costumes that were never dry cleaned on tour – this worked.

  9. whoah this weblog is great i love reading your articles.
    Stay up the great work! You recognize, a lot of persons are hunting round for
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  10. What’s the best way to store a casmere or camel hair coat in the off season?

  11. Great question, Martin!

    There are 3 steps when storing a sportcoat:

    1. Dry Clean before storing (This will prevent the garment from attracting bugs, moths etc.)
    2. Use a wooden hanger or a plastic contour hanger to retain the shape. Use a breathable fabric garment bag for long term storage. Plastic bags are not recommended because the plastic traps moisture on the cloth, which can damage the jacket.
    3. Store in a temperature controlled space. This would rule out damp, dark basements and hot attics.

    **Note every so often your should give your clothes a breather and air them out.

    If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us again!

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