A question I’m often asked is, “where should I take my suits to be dry-cleaned?”
My answer is always the same:
Rule number 1: don’t use Johnsons.
Rule number 2: don’t dry clean them unless absolutely necessary.
Regarding the former, I recently made two suits in the same Super 130’s cloth for a chap (the groom) and his brother (best man). The best man took his to an independent dry-cleaner and it was returned in good shape.
The groom’s suit (care of Johnsons) was returned with every mother of pearl button chipped, or smashed, (despite instructions to cover them before cleaning) and far worse, the suit had been shrunk to the size of an action man outfit.
Most dry cleaners use a liquid chemical solvent called “Perc” that is used to dissolve oils and stains from a variety of fabrics. In my opinion, the less contact natural fibres like wool have with chemicals the better, as it compromises their lustre (sheen), colour and springiness.
In terms of looking after your threads, my advise is to use decent coat hangers (with wide ends to support the shoulders) and invest in a quality clothes brush. Give it a good going over each time you wear it, as it helps to remove the dirt particles that get ingrained in the wool fibres when you are out and about.
Most importantly, rotate your clothing. If you’ve just bought a new suit, don’t wear it all the time. I appreciate it’s a bit tricky if your wardrobe is limited, but clothes need a rest after a days graft, to give them time for the creases to drop out.
Is what most suits need to give them a new lease of life is a good press (an art in itself) but there comes a time when they need a proper clean.
This was recently the case with my navy blue three piece, made up in a very delicate Super 150’s fabric from Barberis.
In the past I have always used “The Clean Inn” (in Menston) to clean my Hermes ties, and so I decided to up the stakes, and entrust them with a Michelsberg special.
My wife dropped them off with their manager, Sam, and on handling the garment he said, “what lovely cloth.” My wife, then handed over a full page of written instructions supplied by my neurotic self, and red-faced, explained “he’s a tailor.”
Once back at home, I inspected them with a fine toothcomb. Every button intact. A lovely roll on the (full canvas) lapels. Forward pleats on the trousers perfectly in line, sleeve not over pressed.
I immediately phoned them to say thank you for a job well done, and after their first wear, decided to pop round one morning and thank them personally.
Again, Sam was on site, and when I mentioned my name, greeted me like a long lost brother. Such was the man’s enthusiasm, he insisted on showing me his top of the line cleaning machinery (Made in Italy) and the most important “Steamer Cabin” that does 60% of the job and removes most of the creases.
I was them introduced to Max, who has been pressing for 36 years and has worked here for 25 years!
Pressing is an art and it is a vital part during the creation of a bespoke suit. In the old days, tailors worked wonders with a 14lb iron and a wet rag, but today’s technology has improved things considerably. It is the steam that relaxes the fibres of the cloth which is then shaped accordingly but the trick is then to remove the steam as if the cloth is left damp, it will easily crease.
Today’s steam presses are very clever and incorporate a heating element and a pedal-operated vacuum to pull air through the board and dry the garments but the finished job is only as good as the person using it.
Max explained the importance of getting the right temperature on the iron, pressing the flaps from the inside (to stop the cloth going shiny) and I found myself nodding appreciatively, as he fastidiously positioned the lapels on the press (one finger width above the closing button) to make the right shape, before rolling it by hand.
Meeting anybody with passion about their chosen field of business, or, hobby, is something I find heart-lifting and highly energising.
The guys are The Clean Inn rock – if your winter overcoat needs some TLC, as mine did last week, I’d recommend them to you in a flash.