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.

Shoe Stretcher


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.

Fuzz Buster


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 Brush


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.

Garment Steamer


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.

Shoe Horn


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,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford

  • Thomas

    Brand of the shoe stretcher?

  • Jordan

    Dan, do you use shoe trees with boots and sneakers? I’ve tried putting shoe trees in my nicer boots for the same reason we use them with shoes. However, it’s just too difficult and time consuming to get them in and out of the ankle of the boot.

    With sneakers, it just seems like overkill and part of the charm is a bit of a worn-in look, am I right? Maybe those patent leather Lanvins deserve shoe-trees though. Curious on your thoughts.

  • SB

    Thanks for the tip about finding the best deal for cedar shoe trees at Sierra Trading Post. I’ve been looking for a while and just bought 10 pair there for $12 each (found promo code in

  • levijyron

    Solid post, team.
    I for one can’t get behind wire hangers for shirts. I’m a perfectionist for aesthetics and find the metal looks ugly haha. I bought a pack of 24 maple wood hangers for like $19 the other day – certainly doesn’t break the bank.

  • Christopher

    Dan – love the posts and so glad you made this one (I hope there’s more on garment care).

    I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you on laundering shirts. I find that often, cleaners use harsh chemicals on shirts to get that ‘stiff as a board’ feel. Shirts aren’t supposed to feel that way in my opinion. After all, it’s cotton, and cotton responds negatively to harsh chemicals over time. I used to do this as well – $1.50 for a laundered shirt, why not? Then, I saw why. After 7-8 times through the ‘launder’ process, the cotton felt ‘papery’ and you could see the quality go down.

    I recommend every guy get acquainted with three things: doing laundry the proper way, their iron and an iron board. Use natural detergents like Nellie’s, to get the dirt, sweat and dead skin off shirts and LEARN how to iron properly. It’s not rocket science, and it can be done. You’ll come to appreciate more about what makes a crisp shirt, crisp. And also, you’ll let your shirts last longer.

    Paying for a shoe shine too Dan? Man, we ball on different levels. Break out the horsehair brush and a cup of Jameson – that’s my Sunday evening!

    • Dan Trepanier

      You gotta use a better cleaners my man, and always NO STARCH (that’s the papery feeling you’re getting). They should only be treating stained/yellow areas with a solvent (preferably all natural), throwing the shirts in the machine, then pressing them carefully.

      It’s all relative, my man. You have to factor in your time vs. the money spent. For example, if it takes me 20 minutes to wash and press a shirt, I can’t justify not spending the $1.50 since I make significantly more than $4.50/hour…and I can always spend more time “working” on building the brand. There’s never enough time in the day it seems.

      I’d much rather have more time than more money, and spending my Sunday brushing down some shoes isn’t very appealing. I’d rather be on the beach!! And get them shined next time I’m waiting for a flight. But again, it’s all relative.

      Cheerio my man.

  • BougieHippie

    This is you’re best post YET! Every style enthused guys needs a “kit” also it wouldn’t hurt to know a quick stitch to fix a hem or replace a button. Invest in some double sided tape, extra collar stays, small sewing kit, safety pins and clorox/tide pens.

  • AdamE

    For my essentials, I would say for sure a little sewing kit. I have one in my dopp kit (the little ones you get for free at the hotel front desk), one in my desk at work (slightly bigger one, with a thimble, some needles, pins, and a variety of threads to match the stitching on most things I wear) and then a larger one at home for more major repairs. For most big stuff, I’ll take it to the tailors, but if you pop a button or notice a minor hold along the crotch seem at work, you can slip into the washroom and make the repair, rather than trying to find time to duck out, buy new pants and drop the damaged ones at the tailor…

    I seriously need some metal/magnetic collar stays, my plastic ones always warp…

    I swear by my steamer (I have the Con Air portable one), best $$ you can spend, for someone who despises ironing, it’s a godsend.

    If you’re in need of a quick shoe shine refresh in a pinch, one of the best tricks I’ve learned is to use the inside of a banana peel, and then
    take a cloth or tissue and give it a quick wipe….

    The other trick I use are the home dry cleaning kits (Dryel). For sweaters, trousers, etc. that are dry clean only, but for someone who doesn’t want to spend a fortune at the cleaners, these things do wonders. I still periodically take stuff to the cleaners for a good proper cleaning, but after regular wear without any heavy soiling, these kits work great. The initial kit has 2-3 of the sheets, along with the bag, and is around $10, and the refills have 5 sheets for the same price, and figuring that you can do 4-5 items, per load (and the scent is strong enough, that I generally use each sheet twice just moistening it a little before the second use), so I can do 40-50 items for $10… even if you only use it on certain pieces, it can save a fortune on the dry cleaning bill…

    • Dan Trepanier

      This is fantastic feedback! This is why the comments section on TSBmen is so invaluable!

      Thank you for sharing your tips and secrets AdamE!


      • AdamE

        Thanks Dan,

        And to be honest, I was super skeptical when I first bought the Dryel kit (saw them reviewed on-line with decent reviews, but had a hard time finding them this side of the border, but certain Walmarts and Targets now carry them), but was getting fed up with having to dry clean my sweaters regularly (canadian winters…), after getting fed up and machine washing a merino sweater and turning it from a M to an XS (I’m sure some short and slight person picked it up at the thrift shop… and loves it now)… so I figured it was a worthy $10 experiment. But after trying it out, I can honestly say that it’s saved me thousands of dollars on dry cleaning, and now I only take stuff to the cleaners if want it professionally pressed, it’s got more significant stains or soiling, or for the seasonal cleaning for my suits.

        As for the sewing kit, while some people consider it counter-intuitive, I would class basic sewing as an essential skill of manliness. All men should be know how to do some basic cooking, basic sewing, and how to act gentlemanly (just as every man should have a butcher, a tailor and a barber…), but that’s another discussion altogether…

  • Brian Stone

    What about a horsehair clothes brush? When to and how to use appropriately? I’m asking for insight of course, not making any particular recommendation.

    • Dan Trepanier

      I don’t use a clothes brush, personally. Never have.

      Perhaps someone has more experience on the matter?

      • Charles J Miller

        Clothes brush is an essential for me. I have a Kent brush at home for sweaters and suits. I have two cheaper and larger brushes I use for my peacoat. One at home and one at work. Reduces the need for drycleaning and will give a nice nap to sweaters. Cashmere sweaters of quality will often recommend brushing as a routine and effective at reducing pilling.

  • Ali Naaseh

    I gotta be honest for a sec here:

    The new style guide is horrible. I’ve been really into those tan Weejuns you’ve been showing lately, so I looked in the guide for inspiration. The previous guide allowed you to select the color and type of each item (i.e. ‘blue casual button up shirt,’ ‘brown suede boot,’ ‘black polished leather loafer’), but now the options are only things like ‘shoes’ or ‘suits.’

    The style guide used to be my favorite part of this website, since I could find exactly what piece I wanted, and I was linked to EVERY post that had featured that piece. Bring it back!

    • Ali Naaseh

      And (I promise I’m not trying to be a horrible person or anything here, but) a lot of the images from older posts (pre-2013) are broken. A lot of times, I’ll Google ‘TSB loafer’ to see if you’ve featured a certain piece. Often, you have, but the images are broken once I find the article.

      • joe

        true. can we get the old pics back? I still look at them.

        • Dan Trepanier

          Should be back soon…By the end of day.

      • WideEyesTWBlog

        FWIW I’ve gathered that the new style guide is under construction (though I wish they would put something up saying so) – it worked way better for me when they first launched the new design. I’ve seen the guys mention it here or there in the comments, so like I said, I think they are working on it – hopefully soon? Haha, I’d like to give it some more use myself.

        • Dan Trepanier

          Working on it. Dealing with a sh-t storm of tech issues right now… Thanks for your concerns.

      • Dan Trepanier

        We are aware of this as well. Again, with a server crash, these things happen. Stay tuned for fixes and upgrades.

    • Dan Trepanier

      We’re working on it Ali. Our server recently crashed and we lost a fair amount of data and coding – setting me back MONTHS and several thousand $$.

      We will be taking the Style Guide down to work on it thoroughly. Stay tuned for an update.


      • Ali Naaseh

        Solid – thanks guys. I should never question whether or not the TSB crew is on top of their game!

  • Jay P

    Metal Collar Stays are a must for those like me in a shirt and tie most of the week. I also bought some magnets after one of your posts a while back and it’s a winner.

    • TO

      Why do they have to be metal? Curious

      • Jay P

        Plastic tends to be flimsy in comparison and curl over time plus I’m a big fan of using the magnets with the open collar look.

  • Miguel

    Excellent post, lots of tips…
    by the way, those brown loafers in the last pictures are fantastic, I’ve been looking for something like this to rock this summer.

  • Shawn

    Damn, those red Scarpe di Bianco are neat! I need a pair of those in my life!

  • Sergio Arteaga

    Will second what has been said about the quick shine, as I believe it is silicone based. Eventually it will make it very difficult for the shoe to get any sort of shine using regular conditioners or polishes. I have that same exact ConAir Steamer and it’s probably one of the best purchases I’ve made and it makes life so much easier.

    I would add cedar blocks that can be hung in the closet or our in a drawer to keep away pesky moths.

    • Alex Crawford

      I did not know that about the quick shine. Thanks for the heads up!

      • Sergio Arteaga

        I looked it up on Kiwi and the one you guys posted in the posted doesn’t mention it but the Kiwi Express Shine one does, not sure though. I would second the brushing before wearing instead of using the quick shine.

        • Dan Trepanier

          Hmmm… I’ve never had this issue. The Express Shine works like a charm for me between proper shines…

          • Sergio Arteaga

            If the one you use doesn’t use silicone you should be good but I know over time it’ll mess with the leather and may build a layer of silicone after doing it over and over again. It can be removed through stripping of the polish and silicone with products such as Saphir’s Renomat.

          • Sergio Arteaga

            Did a little more research and notice there is one that is a liquid wax and one that is a silicone. If it’s the liquid wax, you should be okay. Silicone based on is the killer.

  • cam

    Don’t forget those travel accessories (see link)

    • Al

      lol Drake needs a TSB feature

      • ikenna


        • Alex Crawford

          Don’t get me wrong, I love Drake’s music, but I’m not sure how readers will respond to: “One Piece Three Ways: Black T Shirts with Owls On Them”

          • Dan Trepanier

            Take it easy on Drizzy Drake. We show love to fellow Canadian influencers around here.

            • Christopher

              I agree, but man does he need a TSB intervention!

              • Dan Trepanier

                I think he’s on some type of anti-fashion movement. Trying to bring back the 90s big tees and oversized jeans…

                He tries hard though, that’s for sure…just look at the image above.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Hahaha. Stayyyyy (lint) rolllliinnnnngggg…

  • Matt

    What’s the brand of the show strecher I’ve been looking for a good quality one for a while now?

    • Dan Trepanier

      No brand that I can see. Bought it at my cobbler’s shop back in the day in NYC.

      • E

        I need to find one of those. Rec’d a pair of Just a Men Shoe monks that are too narrow and missed their return deadline. Beautiful shoes, just need a bit of stretching.

  • LouCaves

    So weird, I thought about getting a steamer yesterday and this feature shows up today. A sign? Lol

    I would pass on the quick shine. If you’ve had a proper shine (and you should if you haven’t) then using a horsehair brush is a better option. It’ll remove any dust and it’ll buff the shine back to life.

    Im glad you mentioned the extended shoe horn; for use with boots, since they tend to be forgotten with respect to the wear from shoving your foot inside.

    Thanks, TSB.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Good call on the horse hair brush. I actually wanted to include one here, but it was a little redundant with the suede brush.

      Cheers LouCaves.

  • European reader

    The express shine kills the leather, trust me. In my army days plenty of us made that mistake, and about half had to get new combat boots.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Which ingredient “kills” the leather?

      • European Reader

        I have no idea what’s in the stuff, but the leater would dry out and crack fairly fast. A whole bunch of us got them during basic training and within about a week the first people needed new boots. Good thing the replacement was free. Occasional use on normal shoes is probably not a problem, I wouldn’t know, but my own experience has deterred me from trying.

        Having seen my first post again I feel my phrasing might have been a bit harsh the first time around, and for that I apologise. Still, having done a quick bit of research, it seems many people have had the same problems with the product.

      • mrproof

        I’ve experienced the same–killed a nice pair of shoes with the sponge. “Back in the day” the sponges were saturated with mink oil, which was okay but a little messy. These days they’re saturated with silicone oil. At best it leaves a slight residue on shoes. At worst I’ve seen it cause blistering of the leather.