Secret Weapons to Maintain a Wardrobe
May 13th, 2014
By popular request, we’re putting together a series on wardrobe maintenance and storage.
As the first installment, here’s some of the tools that I use to keep my personal wardrobe looking sharp and lasting long-term.
Feel free to chime in from your experience in the comments below.
Proper Suit/Jacket Hangers
One of the best things you can do for your tailored suits/jackets is hang them on a proper hanger, immediately after you remove them. By ‘proper hanger’ I mean something that fits the width of your jacket’s shoulders (hangers come in different sizes), and something thick enough to balance the weight of the jacket between the front and back panels.
I usually save on shirt hangers (simple dry cleaner wires do the trick), but try to keep all of my tailored jackets on full wooden hangers. I also prefer the velvet-trimmed trouser bar, as opposed to those that “squeeze” the trousers and ultimately create a wrinkle.
Cedar Shoe Trees
We’ve discussed these before. Check out our article How to Make Your Shoes Last a Lifetime.
Here’s one I’ve never mentioned. Years ago, back in my eBay hustling days, I was buying a lot of luxury European dress shoes. Up-selling some, keeping others. But they were often too narrow for my feet (this was before I realized that I have wide feet and need a size 11 “E”).
So I invested in this shoe stretcher. It’s fairly simple; insert into your shoe and twist to expand the split-toe. Leave over night(s), preferably with some leather ointment to promote healthy stretching. You can also move around the metal expansion to add a little extra room for any problem areas on your feet (blisters, bunions, etc). I’ve had great success with this thing, opening up some shoes that used to severally hurt my feet.
Spring Bar Tool
You may have noticed that I only have a couple watches (my go-to Montblanc is actually in the repair shop right now – post on that later) but I have many watch bands that I switch seasonally, or for specific outfits. With this spring bar tool, changing the band is very simple and easy.
If you like vintage sweaters as much as I do, you probably have one of these de-linters. It’s like an electric razor for your sweaters, to keep the pilling under control.
Also, I’ve mentioned this in the past, never hang any of your knitwear. Sweaters will stretch-out and the hangers will leave impression marks. Fold and stack them neatly!
On-The-Go Express Shine
I have a proper shoe shine kit (something like this) but honestly I usually have my shoes shined professionally. I enjoy the experience, and the chit chat, and supporting a local working man. It’s also a great way to kill time at an airport…and I’m never going to do it as well as an experienced man in his groove.
Anyway, my traditional shine kit usually collects dust, and instead I often use this neutral “Express Shine” sponge before I step out. It doesn’t do much for the health or moisture of the leather, but it removes dirt and makes them shiny for a couple hours at least.
Suede is a little more high-maintenance than smooth leather…but boy is it sexy. Funny how those are related…
If you scuff or spill on your suede shoes, simple give them a circular rub-down with a soft-bristled suede brush to bring back an even nap. It’s sort of the equivalent of a shoe shine for suede.
I have a proper iron and board, but honestly don’t use them very often either. I’ve gotten into the routine of having my button-down shirts professionally washed and pressed (I never do it as good as them, nor can I justify the time spent ironing). For pretty much everything else that doesn’t require dry-cleaning, this garment steamer is a life saver. It’s also quick and virtually fool-proof.
After undergoing hip surgery during my freshman year of college basketball, some days I have a hard time bending over to reach my shoes. I use this elongated metal shoe horn EVERY DAMN DAY. Wouldn’t want to live without this thing. It’s also good for the lifespan for your shoes (stop squishing into them and crushing up the heels).
What are some of your essential wardrobe maintenance tools/routines? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Yours in style,
Photography by Alex Crawford