The Right Way to Care for a New Suit
A suit can be a lifelong purchase if you know how to keep it in good condition. If you don’t get your suit cleaned regularly, or if you store it improperly, its lifespan can be significantly shortened—and its look will fade sharply in the meantime.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time or cost much money to keep your suits in better shape.
Finding the Right Suit
Not all suits are created equal. Generally, you get what you pay for; if you buy a cheap suit off the rack from a retailer with a questionable reputation, you may not be able to keep it in good condition, no matter how well you take care of it. That said, you also don’t need to drop a fortune on a custom-made suit from a world-renown brand.
Consider the reputation of the manufacturer, the quality of the materials, and the price point carefully. If you truly want your suit to last a lifetime, you’ll need to make a substantial initial investment.
Taking Care of Your Suit
Once you have a suit (or several), you’ll need to take some additional steps to make sure they remain in good condition:
Get it tailored
First and foremost, get your suit tailored. Custom tailoring doesn’t cost much, and can make any suit at any price range look much better. Better yet, when custom-fitted to your body, a suit simply works better; you’ll be much less likely to catch a sleeve on a snag, trip over your pants, or commit other mistakes that can damage your suit (and possibly, yourself in the process). Tailoring is some of the most common advice in the world of suits, so you’ve probably already heeded it.
Find a dry cleaner you trust.
Most suits are dry clean only, meaning when you inevitably spill something on yours or sweat through the layers, you’ll need to take it to a professional dry cleaner to have it restored. Some dry cleaners are utmost professionals, capable of removing practically any stain and treating clothes delicately, while others aren’t quite as attentive. Search for a dry cleaner in your area and look up reviews for their service. In fact, get a recommendation from someone you trust, if you can. Building a relationship with a good local dry cleaner can help you keep all your suits in good condition.
Store the suit carefully.
When you’re not wearing it or having it cleaned, you’ll need to store your suit someplace that will protect it. For most people, this is simply hanging your suit on a relaxed hanger, in whatever closet you use for the rest of your home. However, it’s also a good idea to check your humidity and temperature levels and keep them consistent; extreme fluctuations can be harsh on your suit’s materials.
Understand how to press and steam.
Suits develop wrinkles over time, even when they’re stored properly, which means you’ll need to invest some time into steaming and/or pressing your suit. Steaming is popular because of its speed, and because you can keep the suit hanging up while you do it. If you do this, make sure you invest in a high-quality home steamer, and use only distilled water; tap water has the potential to leave behind mineral stains. When ironing, be cautious; some delicate materials, like wool, can be damaged if the iron is too hot, and some should not be ironed at all. If you use water in your iron, again, it’s important that it be distilled.
Think about how you use the suit.
You don’t want your suit to be overly restrictive, but it’s important to pay attention to how you’re using your suit. For example, if you typically bike to work, wearing your suit during the commute may be a bad idea, since it will cause the suit to wear out faster; consider wearing a different set of clothes when biking to work, and changing when you arrive.
Know when to buy a new suit.
Every suit has a lifespan, so even if you take perfect care of yours, you’ll eventually need to buy a new one. Inspect your suits regularly and look for signs of wear, points of damage, and other subtleties that can’t be easily repaired. Sometimes, you’ll be able to make the repairs on your own, or with the help of a professional—like reattaching a button or repairing a seam. Other times, the suit may be on its last legs.
With these tips, and a high-quality suit to start with, you can make your suit last years beyond its average lifespan. If you think about your wardrobe as an important investment, you’ll be much more likely to keep it in good condition for the future.