"Dry Clean the Suit? Are You Crazy?"

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Vardeman Sneed, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. Vardeman Sneed

    Vardeman Sneed Familiar Face

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    Northern Kentucky
    Has anyone given any thought to the cleaning of suits and other wool clothes?

    Recently, I read Cary Grant: a celebration of style by Richard Torregrossa. For anyone really interested in dressing well, I strongly recommend read this.

    Among the many tips that I learned from the book, two things really stood out to me:

    1) Pre-modern clothes, especially suits, were made to wear often, and were made to last. Some of the suits (and shirts) that Cary Grant wore, were over 30 years old, but yet looked like they were new.

    It seems that today's clothes are made with the thought of 'planned obsolescence' in mind. (Discard and buy new - keep the economy going)

    2) Pre-modern clothes, especially suits, were made with materials that were not expected to be cleaned, only spot treated. Cary Grant never had a suit dry cleaned.

    Uncommon sense lends us to the conclusion that washing, or dry cleaning, tends to break down the fibers in the material, thus shortening the life of the garment. On top of this, it seems that today's clothes tend to be made of cheaper fabric that is frequently washed, or dry cleaned, and frequently replaced.


    Am I just pulling two unrelated thoughts together, or is there something to the thoughts that I have raised? Have others thought about this also?

    Also, are today's views on these thoughts related to the 'cleanliness cult' that seems prevalent in today's society and/or are they result of the 'great marketing beast'?

    60
     
  2. Justdog

    Justdog Practically Family

    Messages:
    814
    Location:
    North of 48
    Suit Cleaning

    Hi:

    Well I am sure there is truth to continued cleaning of suits but the type of wool may have an impact on this. With the advent of Super wools 100 120 140 150 and even 180 they may not hold up well to continued drycleaning. I aquired a few used items of modern fabric content Virgin wool 100 percent that were dry cleaned and came out specatacular. As a rule I do not continually dry clean or wash wool suits, will do so as necessary. They will develope a shine to the fabric sometimes if drycleaned too often but again this depends on the quality of the wool. Wool can be laudered but it is imperative not to agitate the fibers. If you wear and depend on suits everyday that is a factor as well. Gives you an excuse to buy a new one.

    I would obviously never launder any of my wool suits. (washing machine) Not only this but suits claiming to contain 120 fibres often do not pass tests on fibre content and they are well known. Trump suits had one of the worst ratings for this. Also it is always interesting to me but just like feeling and trying on a hat for fit feeling wool suit fabric is so important. Virgin wool is pretty much what it should be , virgin unused and with a little elastin in it it will last forever.

    I have Jones new york super 100 virgin wool suits for 250 dollars that are unbelievable, well wearing rarely dry clean and an excellent wool fabric. I think the weak link is not the wool but the stitching. Just my take but I could research and go on I really like wool. Pendleton for example make superior wool. Have ther own flocks in Nebraska.

    Also wool suits can be made from different parts of the wool from sheep, some sheep are bred specifically for suits. As for the numbers game it has little to do with actual quality, feel feel feel!

    I took my absolutes out of this post, smile
    Somewhat on topic, smile
     
  3. Miss Crisplock

    Miss Crisplock A-List Customer

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Wow! You do know your wool!

    Welcome to the lounge, maybe we can get you to talk wool to the sewers in the future.:)
     
  4. Justdog

    Justdog Practically Family

    Messages:
    814
    Location:
    North of 48
    Wool Dry Clean or not

    Also New wool is pretty much the same as Vigin wool

    Unused not recycled.
     
  5. DutchIndo

    DutchIndo A-List Customer

    Messages:
    484
    Location:
    Little Saigon formerly GG Ca
    Justdog, I was wondering how were WWII issued wool cleaned ? It is obvious they did not sent their uniforms out for dry cleaning ! All repro uniform producers emphasize "Dry Clean only". I can see some Officer stationed in England but how about the average Joe ?
     
  6. kschurch

    kschurch Vendor

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    I have about twenty suits and with few exceptions I've never sent them to the cleaners.

    If you hang them up promptly, brush them with a good suit brush and steam out any wrinkles they will look good for many, many years without any need to clean them.

    I generally tuck the corner of my napkin in my waistband to hold it in place on my lap and also tuck my tie in my shirt. The shirt is always easier to clean than the tie.
     
  7. Hemingway Jones

    Hemingway Jones I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    6,098
    Location:
    Acton, Massachusetts
    It's better to have a clean suit than one which lasts a lifetime. Whether you know it or not, you are sweating into the pits and back of the lining. Also, the pants, who knows what splashes on them when a man is doing what a man does in a restroom. To spot clean, brush, hang and pray, simply will not do the job.

    I have a three-piece brown suit, you all have seen, I bought is around 1989. I wear it once a week, dry clean it about every other month, and I have been wearing it for 20 years. If it turned to dust tomorrow, I would be pleased that I got my worth from it.

    Please wash your clothes.
     
  8. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

    Messages:
    13,719
    Location:
    USA
    Yes, CG had his own unique method for cleaning his suits.:p
     
  9. kschurch

    kschurch Vendor

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    spot clean, hang, brush and pray.

    Obviously there are different opinions on suit care. If a suit absolutley requires it, I will send it to a reputable cleaner.

    Personally, I wear undershirts and don't sweat much, so I don't perspire into my jackets. A spot clean, brush, hang and a steam has worked well for me over the years and I wanted to share that with other members. No praying required.

    If one feels a monthly trip to the cleaners is a better way to keep one's suits in order then great! Whatever method works for you.

    Myself, I prefer to avoid the chemicals when possible.

    Cheers,

    Church
     
  10. Hemingway Jones

    Hemingway Jones I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    6,098
    Location:
    Acton, Massachusetts
    No worries, Church, to wash or not to wash is a personal preference. I support your choice.

    I would humbly suggest that just because someone thinks that a suit doesn't require cleaning doesn't mean it isn't dirty. Bodies do things all of the time; they sweat (even if you don't feel it), they shed skin, they lose hairs, people drool, tiny crumbs make their way onto the fabrics, you sit in things, the bottom of your pants touch bathroom floors. Only dry cleaning addresses all of these problems.

    I add this not to be argumentative, but for the benefit of all members who may or may not have considered all of the factors in making their decisions.
     
  11. cookie

    cookie I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,918
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    Dry Cleaning Suits

    Interestingly I have an old fashioned dry cleaner who oxycleaned my cream heavy linen/flax suit and it came out great.

    With navy blue linen avoid dry cleaning as it takes out the colour. I just air the jacket and sponge it. I handwash the pants (for all the usual reasons) after soaking them overnight though even then some colour runs.

    Dark wool suits I only occasionally dry clean - like once or twice a year before storing for summer. Otherwise they lose their colour.

    Most times suits do not need more than airing if you don't wear then everyday. I have about 6 suits for each season on a rotation. No one gets worn twice.
     
  12. I dry clean very rarely. Moreso on my lighter coloured suits as they show up the pollution dirt etc. more than the darker ones.

    I do find that i need to re-press the trouser seams quite regularly, but i just do that myself. I machine wash my shirts after each wearing, but never iron. (I'm not a believer in the idea that a pressed shirt looks better than a wrinkled one.)

    bk
     
  13. jgilbert

    jgilbert One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    234
    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    I will have to say with more places going smoke free, I have too have found myself dry cleaning my suits less.

    However, they do require some cleaning. as to how often, that is best left to each person.
     
  14. kschurch

    kschurch Vendor

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Agreed Hemingway...

    You're right, things do float around in this dirty world of ours and suits will have to be cleaned from time to time. However, I do think that with some proper care one can stretch that cleaning time out considerably. Sounds like we're on the same page.

    Cheers!

    Church
     
  15. Justdog

    Justdog Practically Family

    Messages:
    814
    Location:
    North of 48
    Hang and Steam

    Absolutely great advice.

    Good wool or pretty much any wool when hung usually rebounds very well..
     
  16. Justdog

    Justdog Practically Family

    Messages:
    814
    Location:
    North of 48
    Dry clean

    Again more excellent knowledge.

    Sometimes a good suit will just last if taken care of.

    Like I mentioned the one thing wool does not like is agitating the fibres.
     
  17. Justdog

    Justdog Practically Family

    Messages:
    814
    Location:
    North of 48
    Cleaning

    Yes that is absolutely true if you wear the item on a regular basis and if you dont but when you do it gets a bit sweaty then of course the care is determined by the harshness or lack of wear.

    Store it in a garment bag with a circular cedar ring around the collar of the hanger to ward off moths.
     
  18. Justdog

    Justdog Practically Family

    Messages:
    814
    Location:
    North of 48
    Military vintage wool

    I would probably surmise that WW2 wool was washed by hand but the real issue was its function. Care by individuals would not be just a practicality and necessity. I,m sure that a few uniforms got banged against rocks in a stream. Not sure the actual fibre care would have been on anyones mind, smile. All I know from my experience is that I have an excellent dry cleaner who knows his fabrics. Wool comes out so incredible from his care that I would not use any other method. Unless in cases where speed is of the essence. Have not really heard of too much color fade from drycleaning because wool is usually renowed for its ability to be dyed and hold color or colors. Look at pendletons from the 50s the colors are amazing.

    My opinion is that a well made suit really should not bleed its dye. I agree very much with the unseen soil opinion as cities and environments are dirty. A Boss jacket I recieved was 100 Virgin Wool it felt masterful but I took it in for cleaning. When it returned the fabric was incredibly supple and new. I would say it probably had micro contaminents affecting the fabric.The wearer is the best gage to determine the cleanliness of his or her garments.

    My car is a good example as it is subjected to all sorts of dirt and pollutents even though it is waxed and looks clean I do wash it ever week to get the contaminents off the paint.

    I just wanted to raise a glass to wool, smile as being a fantastic natural fabric.
     
  19. Hemingway Jones

    Hemingway Jones I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    6,098
    Location:
    Acton, Massachusetts
    It should be added that regular wear of any garment is good for it as well. No garment that was regularly worn has ever been moth-bitten. Keep them all on a rotation, fellows.

    I wear suits to work everyday, so for me, it's easy.
     
  20. Hemingway Jones

    Hemingway Jones I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    6,098
    Location:
    Acton, Massachusetts
    You make fantastic points. I just wanted to add a few things to this statement; sadly, it is not always true. I dated a girl who dressed exclusively vintage and didn't dry clean her clothes and she reeked a mixture of ancient sweat and moth balls. It was tough to get beyond it. Also, there is a gentleman here at my company who thinks that dry cleaners are a scam so he sponges and airs his suits and that fellow reeks of mildew and aged sweat. Some people cannot smell themselves. It's tough for us who have to say something!
     

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