Protect Your Clothing
Protect your wardrobe and increase your chances of being hired with proper clothing upkeep.
by Rita Gworek
If you are building a wardrobe for a post-military career or if you are investing a substantial amount of money to update your current outfits, it is essential to know how to take care of your business attire.
It is important to purchase clothing that is classic and will have a long life. That means don’t purchase high-fashion clothing that will only be in style this year. Invest your money wisely in classic clothing that will last five years or more. It is OK to purchase a few items that are “in fashion” to add a little zest to your wardrobe this season and even help update it. Pick “in fashion” accessories such as shoes, jewelry, scarves and ties, but stay with the classics in your major clothing items.
Pick “in fashion” accessories such as shoes, jewelry, scarves and ties, but stay with the classics in your major clothing items.When you purchase classic clothing it is best to purchase the highest quality you can afford. Your suits should be 100% wool. The wool can be worsted or combined with cashmere or silk. Wool is categorized in three weights: summer, winter or year-round. Choose something that works in the climate where you currently live or choose a year-round weight. The beauty of wool is that it resists wrinkling and staining. It also breathes well, which means the wool will make your body feel warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Wool also releases wrinkles in a few days and, best of all, most stains can just be blotted off the fabric. This will save on dry cleaning and pressing expenses.
After wearing your all-wool suit, take it off and shake it out. Place it on a quality wooden hanger. The hanger should be wide enough on the ends to support the shoulder pad area. If you have really broad shoulders you may want to purchase an overcoat hanger. This hanger is wider by approximately two inches. If you have narrow shoulders pay careful attention to how the coat fits hangs in relation to the end of the hanger. If the hanger protruding at the shoulders find a narrower hanger. If the hanger does not fit your suit jacket correctly you may damage the shoulder pads and the suit may look like it has bubbles in the shoulder seams.
Use a hanger that clips the cuffs or bottoms when storing trousers. Hanging trousers like this allows them to release wrinkles faster. The weight of the trousers will pull on them slightly. If you fold them in half over a hanger, you will get some creases in that area. Hanging trousers from the bottom helps also keeps the creases in line.
Next, brush your suit off completely with a natural bristle brush. Brushing will remove dust, dandruff and anything else that has fallen on it, but more importantly it will remove any moth eggs that were laid on it. Yes, moths lay eggs in your wonderful wool suits. They also have good taste and your wool/cashmere blended suit will be the first place they go. Use cedar chips or cedar blocks in your closet to prevent these pests from quickly eating away at your substantial wardrobe investment.
Take your suit to the dry cleaners only if it is stained or if body odor will not come out. Fibers are broken down and the lanolin in the wool is removed each time a suit is dry cleaned. Send the jacket and trousers to the cleaners together as colors can change during cleaning.
Shirts are best laundered if they are cotton. Do not try to get more than one wearing from your shirt before cleaning it. You will destroy it faster. The purpose of a shirt is to protect the suit. It takes the moisture, dirt and abrasion away from the suit. Light starch is best. Heavy starch tends to break down the fabric faster, too.
To protect your shoes after wearing, place cedar shoe trees in them. Cedar whisks away moisture and supports the shoe. It is best to have two pairs of dress shoes, which will allow time for the leather to dry. Black shoes and dark red (often referred to as cordovan) shoes go with both your charcoal gray and navy blue suits. Keeping your shoes well polished and waxed will help protect them, too.
Make sure to have an umbrella or rain coat handy in case of showers. Wool does not stand-up well in a consistent downpour. A few sprinkles are OK, but a heavy rain will puff up the wool. After getting out of the rain, dry off your shoes quickly. Remember to put the cedar shoe trees in as soon as you can.
These are the items you will need to take proper care of your clothing: sturdy wooden suit hangers, wooden trouser hangers, cedar shoe trees, natural bristle brush, cedar chips or blocks, and an umbrella. You made a significant investment in your wardrobe so ensure you take care of it to get the return you expect and deserve.