Seven Things Guys Overlook When Caring for Their Clothes

Take care of your clothes properly and they'll easily take care of you for years to come. Check out these easy 7 things that will help your clothes last, and save you some money in the process.

You give up your hard-earned cash for some nice threads, only to disregard them the moment you pop the tags? Here are some things many guys overlook when it comes to caring for their clothes. Make sure you pay attention to these pointers if you want your stuff to keep looking great.

Shoe trees

Good cedar shoe trees do two things: help keep the shape of your leather shoes, and absorb any moisture that has built up during the day. Two sets would be nice, but you really only need one.

At the end of the day, place them in your shoes. The next day, take them out of the pair from yesterday and put them in your newly-worn pair. That length of time should be enough for your shoe trees to do their job. Done!

Sturdy wooden hangers

Hangers come in all shapes and sizes, but for your suit jackets and sport coats you want wider wooden ones. Standard wooden hangers about 0.5″ thick should work for everything else.

Wide hangers help retain the shape of your jacket's shoulder. You don't need many (unless you're Barney Stinson), which is good because they can get expensive. Check out Kirby Allison's Hanger Project to get an idea. Another resource is B.Black and Sons in LA; they have one dozen hangers for $28.50, which is the most affordable I've found for the quality.

Let's say you've decided to make the transition from crappy wire to awesome wooden hangers. My advice would be to pick up a few at a time and slowly replace them. Buying enough to fill your whole closet will be quite pricey.

Collar stays

These are more important than you think. Sadly, I see guys wearing dress shirts that suffer from Floppy Collar Syndrome all the time (a disorder I totally just made up right now). Whatever you want to call it, a dress shirt collar should be able to stand proud over a tie or next to a lapel, so give it the boost it needs by utilizing these little plastic things.

Most of the time, your standard dress shirt comes with a couple pairs of collar stays. These usually work just fine and you know they fit, so make sure to use them. In case you're completely out, you can pick up a bunch at Nordstrom (super nice ones, in fact) or Amazon (they have ones in various sizes).

Wash clothes as little as possible

I applaud your efforts in attempting to stay clean all day every day. That's more than can be said about most guys our age. It could be quite possible, though, that you're washing your clothes too often.

In the wash, garments get beat up quite a bit. They're drenched and vigorously shaken and spun and then tumbled in crazy hot temperatures. The result is a clean garment, sure, but also a faded one. Possibly even a shrunken one. Minimize the fading and the shrinking by only washing when necessary.

Assuming you don't work on a pig farm or in a mine shaft, you'd be okay washing denim every three weeks or so. My dark inky denim doesn't see a washer / dryer combo for months at a time. That way, they keep the nice color and they fit like a glove. An appropriately-worn-in glove.

If they start to smell, let them air out, give them a break for several days, and hook them up with some Febreze. That stuff really does work wonders. If they're unbearable, wash on the delicate cycle and hang dry them, or dry them on the cool cycle. This will help minimize fading. Make sure to use Woolite Dark and wash with other dark garments; this will also help to minimize the loss of color.


Shine your shoes

I personally don't have the time or patience to shine my own shoes, but it's good to at least know how. Once you've familiarized yourself with the process, but still don't care to do it yourself regularly, get them done by a pro. If you're in a big city I'm sure there are shoe shiners everywhere; here in downtown San Francisco, they have guys right on Market Street with their makeshift booths, shining shoes. I usually take mine to Nordstrom whenever I need it done.

Unless you wear certain pairs constantly, you can just get a shoe shine when necessary. I have a regular rotation and I'm careful not to get my kicks dirty, so I rarely have to get a good shine.

Pay attention to the care label

Not all garments are made the same, and certain materials need specific care. If you throw everything you own in the wash without reading the labels,  you're bound to diminish the shelf life of your clothes.

I would follow what the label says, just to be safe. If it says Dry Clean Only, don't risk it in the wash just because you're feeling lazy yet daring. And if it says delicate cycle, don't throw it in with your towels on the heavy wash setting. Group things by color and care, and settle for smaller loads. Or if you must have as few loads as possible, at least group by color, wash with cold water only, and run it on the gentle cycle. That way, you'll get a clean load with minimal damage.

Take clothes hot out of the dryer

When I do use my dryer, I listen intently for the buzzer, and once it goes off I immediately take the clothes out, lay all shirts flat on the bed and smooth them out. This minimizes wrinkling and prevents me from having to do a bunch of ironing, which I hate because I'm really slow and meticulous. The only things I end up having to iron if sticking with this method are my crisp dress shirts, which always need a good press, no matter what.

What's one thing most people overlook that I didn't cover here? Feel free to let us know below in the comments.

Barron Cuadro runs The Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to better equipping the everyday man by helping him find his own personal style. You can find him on Twitter @effortlessgent, Facebook, and at http://effortlessgent.com. He lives in San Francisco.