It’s no state secret that guys are pretty hopeless at looking after their clothes.
But treating your clothes with reckless abandon comes with a price – one that most guys will have to pay at least once in a lifetime of buying and thrashing clothes. A man’s wardrobe isn’t sacred, but time, money, and satisfaction come pretty close.
So, if you’re finding your clothes crap themselves prematurely or are beginning to look a bit long in the tooth, this guide will help you rediscover your nurturing self and treat your clothing with the unconditional love, care, and affection that they deserve.
Don’t Wear Them All The Time
Everyone has that favourite shirt, suit, or pair of kicks they like to wear all the time. Unfortunately, the things we love hurt us the most, and overuse can kill your favourite wardrobe pieces well before their expiry date.
Natural fibres need time to breathe and recover after use. This important downtime lets the garment recover and regain some semblance of its original shape. You might look awesome in that shirt or that suit, but even the best bits of your wardrobe deserves a break. Learn to savour the favourites.
Always Invest In Quality Clothes & Garments
As seductive as fifty or sixty percent off can be, it’s likely these clothes are so cheap because, well, they’re cheap (and nasty). Even in today’s market of fast fashion, you can still buy once, and buy right, saving you frustration and money in the future.
Look to purchase clothes made from natural fibres, as far from a sweatshop as possible, with a transparent and accessible chain of production. You don’t need to find the most exclusive boutique in town. But a shrewd investment here and there will prevent you from going back to the shops for returns or replacements, when you clearly have better things to do.
Know The Clothes To Fold Or Hang
Not all clothes are stored equally. Some need to be hung up, some folded. There’s no real witchcraft here, just a couple of basic rules to ensure your clothes retain their shape over time and don’t end up resembling what you came home in after the work Christmas function. Sweaters, knits, and cardigans should generally be folded, not hung. This keeps their shape and stops the neckline from warping and general stretching. We’d recommend the same for t-shirts, especially if you burn through a few during the week.
Tailored kit – suits, trousers, coats – and dress shirts should be hung up, and not on the nasty plastic hangers you got at the shop. Use cedar hangers instead. Moths hate these bad boys so get around them. Linen garments, in particular, should be hung as linen is a fragile fabric which can break with long term ironing and folding on the same crease line.
Plan Your Long Term Storage For Seasonal Clothes
There comes a time in our lives where certain parts of our wardrobe don’t see as much love as the rest. You’re not going to wear a trench coat in summer (we certainly hope) and a boozy backpacking trek through the seedier parts of Western Europe doesn’t ask for much more than a few staples (that you’re happy to lose).
For long term storage, you need to put your smart man cap on and invest in sensible options like vacuum-sealed garment bags. These bad boys thwart intrusions from nasty critters and mould. You can leave expensive items for weeks at a time and not know the difference. They’re also cheap AF, especially for the certainty that you won’t come back to a wardrobe that’s been plundered by insects, mould, or disreputable housemates.
Keeping Your Room Clean Actually Helps
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a guy, and if so, you probably can’t keep the house tidy to save your life. But a filthy bedroom that cockroaches would be terrified to plunder will endanger the long-term durability of your clothes.
Making sure your wardrobe gets a bit of air every now and then, dusting the shelves and cupboards, and letting fresh air in will keep the moths, dust, smells and mould at bay. Your room doesn’t need to look like a cute spread from Better Homes and Gardens, but a little clean here and there will keep your clothes in wearable condition for longer.
Dry Clean With Caution
We’re not ones to advocate the downturn of local businesses. But when it comes to dry cleaners, we’re pretty happy for you to take your coin and spend it almost anywhere else. Dry cleaning is the nuclear option for garment care. It uses chemical solutions and heat to remove stains but it’s about as precise as using a chainsaw to conduct brain surgery.
Even if it produces results, dry cleaning can discolour your clothes and do nasty things to the internal lining and construction. Like we said, scorched earth. If dry cleaning is the only option, minimise its frequency as much as you can and use more natural methods like hanging it out in the sun to remove odours. For stains you might not have a choice but frequency will be your saving grace.
Clean Your Clothes According To The Instructions
They’re there for a reason, gentlemen. If the label says to machine wash your garment in cold water with like colours, inside out, and never to tumble dry or apply an iron – listen to it.
Don’t think you can outsmart the label otherwise, you’ll end up with heartbreak and the most expensive rag ever. Ideally, you should read the label prior to purchasing a garment. If you’re not up to the task of caring for it in the recommended manner, don’t buy it. This is usually the case for fine merino knit and cashmere pieces.
Learn To Sew A Hem
Don’t tell your tailor this, but you can handle hemming at home. At a basic level, at least. There’s no substitute for professional work when you want a really outstanding job, but in a pinch you can adjust the length of a garment yourself. Start by ironing out any creases or bumps so that the hemline you create will be accurate.
You can also use the iron to measure the hemline to the width you’d like the new hem to be, if you don’t have pins or chalk available to mark it. There are lots of different stitches you can use, with varying degrees of difficulty, but always begin on the wrong side of the hem and knot the thread at the end.
Treat Stains Immediately
Stains should be treated immediately. The procedure for removal will depend on what caused the stain and what fabric you’re removing it from, but the rule of immediacy stays the same. Get on it ASAP for best results. Leaving stain removal detergents to dry on a shirt collar can completely destroy it (we’re speaking from experience).
For an added degree of caution, test any stain removal method on a hidden seam or other inconspicuous spots before applying the treatment to the full area. Avoid direct heat, which typically speeds up most types of stains’ bonding, and avoid applying solvents with too much pressure or forceful scrubbing.
Learn To Sew A Button
Many garments come with extra buttons, saving you the task of having to find a passable replacement. The only other tools you need are a needle, thread and a cutting device (your teeth will do in an emergency).
Start by threading the needle and knotting the end. Then, starting at the backside of the fabric, create a small X to anchor the button.
Place the button over the X and begin the attachment process. Keep a sewing kit and any extra buttons or thread that came with your clothing in one place for easy retrieval when needed.
Remove Lingering Smells
As with stains, the kind of treatment required for odours depends on the smell in question, but baking soda or vinegar is frequently a safe bet. Clingy smoke smells can be removed by soaking clothes in a baking soda/water or vinegar/water solution, as can sweat.
For tough mechanical smells like oil, leave your clothing sealed in a bag for a day or two before washing. Baking soda or vinegar can also be applied directly to smelly laundry if you won’t have a chance to wash it right away.