Suits should not be dry-cleaned very often. For some I know on and around Savile Row, that means once every six months. For others, it means never. The exact amount, of course, depends also on how often and in what manner you wear your suits.
When they do need to be dry-cleaned, it can be a struggle to find somewhere decent. Dry cleaning will damage a suit – it is being washed around in a tub of chemicals after all – but far more damaging is the pressing afterwards. Most dry cleaners use a big Hoffman press to stamp the entire garment flat. That’s fine with a T-shirt, but it can ruin the collar, shoulders and chest of a suit – anything, essentially, that is three-dimensional and is suddenly being reduced to two.
The better dry cleaners can hand press a suit. One of them is Jeeves of Belgravia: probably the best-known high-end chain in London. As an experiment, I gave them an Anderson & Sheppard flannel suit last week and asked for their best possible service.
The results were mixed.
The chest and shoulders of the jacket looked very good. More importantly, when I put it on, the jacket felt the same as it had before. Just cleaner.
But it had been cut as a three-roll-two, and Jeeves had attempted to press it as a pure three-button. They hadn’t forced it: the lapels still had their natural roll. But there was evidence of an attempt to press them shorter and higher, at the first of the three buttons. The collar had also lost a little of its shape.
Also the trousers, disappointingly, had been pressed flat. This was obvious from the two creases up the back: the original crease and a new, sharper one from where the trousers had been folded in two and placed in the machine (as shown at top).
Overall, it wasn’t a bad job. Much better than the average high-street cleaner. But at £45, I had expected more and I will take any future jobs to Burford Valet (who I wrote about last year). As they don’t have shops they are not quite as convenient, and are more suited to doing several suits at once. But at £30 per suit they were cheaper and better.