How To Look After Your Suit

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How To Look After Your Suit

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge

22 February 2017

The men behind British tailoring brand Thom Browne share their tips for looking after that two-piece.

Overheard, while on hold at the Thom Sweeney HQ in Mayfair, London:

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Mr Thom Whiddett: “Are you making tea? Were you thinking of leaving me out?”

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Mr Luke Sweeney: “I wouldn’t think of doing such a thing.”

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Mr Whiddett: “Oh go on, I’ll have a green one then.”

The Messrs Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise of bespoke tailoring sound (and look) as though they could have come off the set of The Italian Job. Indeed, smartly dressed cockneys are as much a part of London as rain, warm cups of tea in greasy spoons and pints of beer in dodgy boozers. See Sir Michael Caine, Mr Terence Stamp and Mr Terry O’Neill for some prime examples.

The Thom Sweeney brand of tailoring – one part 1960s mod, with a side order of Italianate sensuality and colour, served up with a very British insistence on correct form – is a fixture in the wardrobe of pretty much every senior fashion editor, stylish celebrity, and man about town in London.

Fitting then, that the boys know a thing or two about how to keep your whistle (whistle and flute = suit in cockney rhyming slang), as sharp as the day they cut it for you. Scroll down for their tips.

Avoid dry-cleaning

“The first thing: avoid dry-cleaning,” says Mr Whiddett. “I dry-clean my suits once a year, if that. The chemical process isn’t great for the fabric. You lose the bounce and the finish,” says Mr Sweeney. Instead, they recommend giving them a gentle steam in the bathroom or leaving them next to an open window. For individual stains, taking suits to a professional cleaning service like Buckingham, in London’s Mayfair, to have it “spot cleaned”, prevents the need to clean the whole garment. Also, brushing suits down with a horsehair brush lifts the nap of the cloth and helps prevents moth holes. “When the time does come, don’t be afraid to spend extra on a good dry-cleaner,” says Mr Whiddett.

Press it properly

Pressing is an integral part of the bespoke tailoring process,” says Mr Whiddett. “We have a guy who spends up to an hour pressing a finished suit to give it shape, especially on the lapels, which should roll softly,” says Mr Sweeney. If possible, take your suits to your tailor for a professional press, or to a dry-cleaner you can trust them to do it carefully. Most will press your lapels flat against the chest, resulting in a lifeless appearance.

Store it well

Common sense is best here. The best suits are three-dimensional pieces of sculpture, so squishing them up against one another will make them look flat and dull. “Try not to cram your suits into a small cupboard. Your suits need breathing space,” says Mr Sweeney. “You shouldn’t have your suits and jackets pressing up against one another.” says Mr Whiddett.

They also emphasise the need for moth tablets and sachets: “It happened to a client of ours. A moth attack cleaned out his whole wardrobe,” says Mr Sweeney. “It was good for us, but not so good for him,” says Mr Whiddett.

A final tip

“It’s best to take your suit off as soon as you get in,” says Mr Sweeney. “Try not to lay on your sofa watching telly for two hours. Hang it up.” says Mr Whiddett. Full hangers (as opposed to the wire ones you get from a dry-cleaner) help to keep your suits in shape, especially on the shoulders.

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Film by Mr Jacopo Maria Cinti