When friends ask me about looking after their clothes, it always strikes me that their questions come too late. They’ve trodden down the heel cup of a shoe, and want to know if it can be repaired; a suit is looking old and grimy and they want a good dry cleaner.
Looking after clothes is about pre-empting such problems. Small things every day (or as often as you can) make a big difference.
The most obvious area is shoes. So few men brush their shoes at the end of the day, yet it actually saves work if you want them to look good. Brushing removes the little scuffs acquired through daily wear, and means you don’t have to polish them as often.
Using a shoe horn, of course, stops you bending over the leather around the heel cup, which will eventually split and break. Shoe factories all say that is the most common repair they have to make.
Shoe trees retain the shape of the upper; a little cream every month or so stops them drying out. All small things, but with big results. And frankly, if you’re buying any of the shoes we mention here on Permanent Style, which will cost between £500 and £4000, it’s nothing more than intelligent to invest time as well as money.
Brushing suits is a hard one. I often find it a chore, but I try to keep it up because I know the vast majority of dirt is atmospheric – just settling on the shoulders and lapels and in need of a quick brush off at the end of the day.
Shirts are the hardest garment to maintain. Stains will happen, and it’s one reason I’d always recommend spending less on them proportionately than suits or shoes.
But a decent knowledge of stain first-aid is a big help. It normally comes down to blotting until most of the sauce/coffee/beer is soaked up, then wetting it and blotting again. And again. (Different solvents are good for different stains, but water is usually a good first resort.)
Hanging suits up; giving them plenty of room in the cupboard; hanging your ties and folding your knitwear. It’s not too much to say that 90% of looking after clothes is just daily good practice.
Stick with it, and feel smug later.
Image: Zachary Jobé