February 28, 2013

Quick Tip: Protecting Your Clothes

After the post a few weeks ago on caring for your wool outerwear, I got quite a few emails asking about some of the tips I gave so I wanted to elaborate a bit. If you take the proper steps to protect your clothes when they are in your closet, you’ll be able to enjoy wearing them longer.

1. Cedar Hangers

I have already talked about the benefits of cedar. There are balls, blocks, oils, sachets, and (as I just discovered today) interlocking drawer liners. Possibly the easiest to use is a cedar hanger because it doesn’t really need any further explanation. But don’t just use any hanger for your clothes. Choosing the right hanger is important to keep your garments in top shape. For suits, jackets, and outerwear, I like to use the wide shouldered suit hangers with the rounded ends. Not only will they help keep the moths away, they will prevent you from getting creases in the shoulders. These will also always have a pant bar, so you can double up pieces and save some closet space.

There are specific hangers for suits, pants, shirts, ties, belts, and pretty much anything else you might need. What I really like about cedar hangers, other than the protective aspect, is that they are a lot sturdier than plastic or felt-covered ones, which means that even though they cost more, they will last longer.

2. Sweater Stone

Despite the name, a sweater stone is for more than just sweaters. This little piece of pumice will take care of anything that has a pill (those little fuzzy balls that appear on fabrics from excessive rubbing). As you gently rub the stone over the fabric, the sweater stone will hold the pill and cut the fibers that are keeping it stuck on your garment and returning the original appearance. They won’t last forever though, as true sweater stones will slowly crumble with repeated use to protect the integrity of the fibers. It’s actually a pretty complex process, but the result is nothing short of incredible.

3. Garment Bags

Garment bags are important, especially for long-term storage, but not all garment bags are equal. Canvas and cloth garment bags will not only keep your clothes dust and bug free, but will also let them breathe. Plastic garment bags, like the kind that you get when you buy a suit at a department store, are fine for travel but not for storage. If the clothes can’t breathe, any moisture trapped inside has the potential to turn into mold. You can pick up cloth or canvas garment bags at any specialty clothing supply store, like Manhattan Wardrobe Supply, but also more generic chains like The Container Store and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

I will usually fit 2-3 hangers in a garment bag for short term storage, but when I put things away for the season, every piece gets its own bag to cut down on wrinkles and make them easier to access. Like hangers, garment bags also come in different shapes and sizes, so pick one that is just slightly longer than your garment to keep it from wrinkling at the bottom. For heavier pieces, like thick wool coats, opt for a gusseted garment bag that provides space for it to hang without flattening.

4. Lint Brush

You can pick up a lint roller at any corner drug store, but sometimes classic is the way to go. The classic lint brush features a velvet pad that, when brushed against the nap, will remove the lint without leaving glue residue like a roller. Particularly with more delicate fabrics, a sticky lint roller has the potential to damage the garment with repeated use. As an added benefit, many lint brushes now come with a clothes brush on the other side for the finer particles that may be left behind. If you’ve ever watched Downton Abbey and seen Mr. Bates brush Lord Grantham’s shoulders after dressing him for dinner, he is using a clothes brush (so you should too).

5. Shoe Tree

Shoes trees are great to help retain the shape of your shoes, but that is all the plastic ones do. If you pick up a cedar shoe tree, not only will it keep shape, but it will absorb the moisture and help keep your shoes from developing an odor. I have shoe trees for every pair of my dress shoes because for me it just makes sense to protect my investments.

6. Pull Needle

This is an amazing little invention that I discovered a few months back. The pull needle is used for fibers that get snagged and pulled out of the weave of knit fabrics, but that you wouldn’t want to just cut off and risk unraveling the garment. Unlike a sweater stone, which cuts off the pills that develop in knit fibers, the pull needle discreetly brings those ugly loose yarns to the back side of the fabric, keeping the weave intact but the pulled end hidden. To use it, simply place the point of the needle in the center of the loose yarn and push through, twisting gently as you go to catch the fibers. It really works like magic and leaves no hole in your garment. The one that I use is lightheartedly named the ‘Snag Nab-it’ but I am sure there are others out there.

These are just a few of the many, many items that are on the market to help you protect your clothes. I could list dozens more, but chose these particular ones to address some of the more common questions that I get asked (or in the case of the Snag Nab-it, because I think it is such an awesome idea that everyone should own). If you have a specific question, email me at and I will get you an answer directly or maybe feature it in a future post.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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