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Storage and up keep

Your most pressing style questions answered

Question
How often do I need to clean my suits?
Answer
Not as often than you think, but that doesn't mean they don't require maintenance. Unless a suit is visibly stained it probably shouldn't be dry cleaned more than twice a year, provided it is well looked after. This involves keeping it neatly folded on a proper hanger, hanging it up somewhere it can air for 24 hours after you wear it, not wearing it more than once a week, brushing it with a clothes brush after each wear, and storing it in a place with enough space for it not to be creased.
Question
How do I care for my shirts?
Answer
Assuming they're made of cotton, wash them at 30 or 40 degrees, hang them up to dry and, ideally, iron them while they're still damp. It's best if you can then store them on hangers, since folded shirts inevitably end up creased, especially if they're not completely dry when you put them away.
Question
How do I care for my ties?
Answer
First, by thinking long and hard before you order spaghetti or douse your salad in dressing. Both are highly likely to end up staining your tie and, once that's happened, it's almost impossible to clean it. Second, when you take off your tie roll it loosely and store it that way overnight, before transferring it to a hanger or somewhere it can hang. Knitted ties should be stored rolled.
Question
How do I care for my leather shoes?
Answer
They need time to dry on shoe trees after each wear if they are to maintain their shape; this is why they shouldn't be worn on consecutive days. They also need to be kept well polished, as this feeds the leather, which keeps the water out and means they stay looking good. If all this seems like an expensive hassle, remember that good leather shoes will last a decade if well maintained, so it is worth the effort.
Question
How do I wash my jeans? I've read that you're not meant to wash them.
Answer
It is incredible that trousers originally designed to be worn by Californian miners are now treated with so much care. There aren't many reasons why a pair of cotton trousers can't go through the washing machine, but raw denim will shrink, so consider that when choosing a size. If you want to minimise fade then use a special detergent like Woolite. Should we mention that there is talk in fashion circles of a return to heavily faded denim?
Question
What is the best way to avoid visible sweat marks on a shirt?
Answer
A white shirt is the most obvious answer and, perversely, a thick white shirt will actually mask the sweat better. If you can find one with an airy open weave, that would be ideal. Alternatively a pattern, like a madras stripe on a substantial oxford cloth, or a gingham check, will also help disguise moisture. Solid but pale colours will show dampness most clearly.
Question
With military precision, I change over my wardrobe twice a year. What do I need to do to keep the moths away from the half of my clothes that are stored in the loft?
Answer
Make sure that everything you're storing is completely clean. Suits should be hung up in insect-proof, but not airtight, suit carriers. If you have seen moths on your clothes, then dry cleaning is a necessary step, but will not kill the moths' eggs; you'll also need to have the garments cleared by a company such as Thermo Lignum. Once the clothes are clean, the liberal use of Colibri anti-moth sachets should act as a preventative.
Question
How to avoid sweaty feet and smelly shoes in summer: leather soles and uppers; secret socks, or whatever you call them.
Answer
The best way to bring on a sweat is to wear something in an artificial fibre, so make sure your socks are cotton and your shoes are all leather, including the sole; leather-lined shoes are far slower to smell than anything with a fabric lining. If your feet do sweat but you want to go sockless try tracking down things called 'sockettes', which cover the sole of the foot, but only attach to the toes and the heel so they are invisible once your shoes are on. Use of a foot powder like Mycil should prevent both smells and skin problems from developing.