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I don't pretend to be in the same league as our resident sartorial sages w+a, Rob Sutherland, TPE and others, but I have recently acquired a couple of relatively decent suits and need some advice on the best way to care for them.

One co-worker told me dry cleaning too often (i.e. more than twice a year) can destroy a good suit. Between cleanings, he said, it should be refreshed with a home clothes steamer. True? False? Other tips?

Much appreciated...thanks.
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VinT, I wear a suit often and, while I have never practiced 'home steaming' I've found that following these simple basics makes a huge difference in caring for a well made suite:

- Invest in a well made hanger that really supports the suit when hung. Broad, round shouldered, with an appropriate width. They're not cheap but well worth the bit extra they cost. It's like putting shoe trees in your shoes. Makes a huge impact on keeping a proper shape as the material heals.

- Brush the suit prior to re-hanging. Invest in a suit brush. Brush against the grain of the material to loosen and raise dust a small unseen dirt, then brush with the grain to sweep away.

- Avoid wearing the same suit twice in a row. Like shoes and belts, it's good to let the suit recover and come back to shape

- Find a high quality Cleaner. They are NOT all the same. A quality cleaner knows how to clean a suit properly. Avoids harsh chemicals and presses the suit correctly. I request my cleaner to allow the lapels to leep their roll and doesn't press them flat. A good cleaner does this without issue.

- don't over clean. I typically take mine 2 - 3 times a year. Spot clean, if needed, in between.

Biggest impacts, IMO, are how you hang your suit and not over cleaning. That's assuming you've invested in a 'well made' suit at the start. Well worth the investment.
Originally posted by wine+art:
VinT, congratulations on your new suits. I wish I still wore suits more often. I'm once a week or even every two these days since not working much.

KCS02 touched on many good practices. I would not want to wear a suit more than once a week.

I prefer a horse hair brush and use cedar hangers and cloth garment bags for suits not in season.

I only dry clean one a year ( end of season) unless something unforeseen happens. That said I do take my suits in for a stiff brushing, steam/sponge clean and press more often. My cleaners ( excellent) knows to only steam the parts of the suit required. The chest portion of the suit rarely ever needs much more than a good brushing.

Think about the always immaculately tailored Cary Grant in the movie, North by Northwest. Even after that crop dusting plane scene, he requested only a steam/sponge and press. Cool

If you do have a major problem say with your pants ( spills, harsh winter walking exposure) and need a true dry clean, make sure you have the jacket cleaned as well, regardless.

Did you pick up a couple of pairs of E Green or Lobbs as well? Wink
It's all been said, dry clean once a year or so unless you really soil it. Always clean both pieces together. Always hang your suits when you change out of them and not the next day /week (I'm terrible at this). Don't wear your jacket at your desk or it will wear out your elbows. Get two pairs of pants when you buy them if you want the suit to last for a seriously long time and alternate between them. Aerion or similar mesh chairs will make your ass shiny in no time as well.
After my dad got out of the corporate rat race he ended up owning several dry cleaners. I learned quite a bit during those years both as a recipient and employee during high school. Much to my wife’s chagrin my fussiness about proper care for clothes is ingrained in me.
The chemicals have changed slightly since the late '80s early '90s as the EPA really cracked down, but the term dry cleaning was always a bit strange to me. You would load a big pile of clothes into the machine (it looked like a industrial sized front loading washing machine), let it go through its cycle and then pull them out, separate by garment type, before they were pressed on those big presses you see in movies where steam would come out of them. The clothes were always treated with steam, never liquid water, even when treating spots/stains.

The reason (in my mind at least) that you don't clean your clothes very often at the cleaners is the solvent. Perc as it was known back then (abbreviation for the longer chemical name) was the virgin form of the exact same stuff used in automotive parts washers ( any of you ever spent time cleaning old car parts in the solvent tank know what I’m talking about), exact same stuff and that’s the liquid used in the washing machine. That should tell you all you need to know why frequent dry cleaning (not be confused with laundering) of your clothes are not a good idea. “Press Only” is your friend. It may seem a bit strange at first to bring in your fine garments and tell the clerk, “Press only please”, but that’s proper care if they aren’t soiled and the majority have no idea. I don’t go as long as some of the others prescribe, but I also don’t wear my suits on a regular basis.
As others said, a good dry cleaner is worth seeking out and patronizing. Most of the good ones in my experience don’t do coupons (that used to be very popular, not sure any more) and the cost of a laundered men’s dress shirt still amazes me and is the best value going. Oh and one other insider tip, most of the time, light starch and medium starch end up in the same wash cycle. ☺
VinT, in terms of drycleaning, Del Monte on the Queensway in Etobicoke (a lot of the better menswear places in Toronto send things to them so you can drop off there and pick up though they also do pick-up and delivery for big enough orders) or Dove are the only two I would use though Careful Cleaners on Dupont are good as well (esp for shirts).

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