Most men know there are some things in life worthy of a little extra investment – like a watch, a barber or an anniversary dinner restaurant.
However, with the availability of fast-fashion chains like Primark and H&M, paired with a constant barrage of ‘new’ trends, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying cheap clothes and shoes that hit the mark at the time, only to throw them away a few months (or even weeks) later.
This throwaway fashion culture results in an estimated £140m or 350,000 tonnes of used clothing going to landfill in the UK every year, according to environmental agency Wrap.
With greater emphasis than ever on building a capsule wardrobe comprising timeless and versatile items, there’s no better time to begin investing in quality pieces that are built to last a lifetime. Yet spending more isn’t enough – for clothing and footwear to go the distance, they need to be properly cared for and maintained.
Thus, here are a few products to assist in the preservation of a well-invested wardrobe for years to come.
Considering one of the best ways to extend the life of your clothes is to wear them on rotation (particularly your suits), garments spend a great deal of time hung up in the wardrobe.
This is when clothes are resting and recuperating; you wouldn’t actively buy a cheap, unforgiving mattress, so similarly avoid flimsy wire hangers.
Thick wooden versions offer greater support, particularly to heavier items such as coats and suits. By not bending as wire does, wooden hangers allow garments to drape correctly, meaning your blazers maintain their tailored lines and knitwear isn’t left with unsightly ‘ears’ on the shoulders.
Basic Wood Jacket Bar Hanger, Set of 6, available at John Lewis, priced £7.
Shoe trees are sadly not something you can plant in your back garden to give you an endless supply of brogues. However, what they can offer is structure and support when shoes are not being worn, helping preserve their original shape while preventing collapsing and premature cracking.
Although plastic designs have their merits over crumbled paper or cardboard alternatives, split-toe, adjustable length cedar wood versions are the optimum purchase here.
The wood not only gives off a natural forestry smell to keep your shoes fresh, it also absorbs moisture from the soles and leather.
Aromatic Cedar Shoe Trees (Pairs), available at Barker, priced £50.
The idea of brushing one’s clothes is still a concept alien to most. Nonetheless, this simple trick removes dust, dirt and stains, restoring pieces to their original glory.
If you’re going to do it, research how to do it for each garment beforehand to avoid doing more harm than good. The general guidelines are to sweep, don’t scrub, brush in the same direction (first against and then with the nap) and apply varying pressure based on the material.
Beech Wood Clothes Brush, available at Marks & Spencer, priced£15.
Shoe Care Kit
We’ve already produced a comprehensive guide to shoe care, which details the numerous products and processes that will keep your footwear collection looking its finest, whether leather or suede.
If you’ve recently bought your first pair of ‘investment’ shoes, look for an all-in-one care kit that will ensure you have everything you need to maintain them. This should not only contain the products to cleanse, condition and protect the shoes, but also the right tools to do so.
Valet Box, available at Loake, priced £95.
Even in a perfectly built wardrobe, there will be items that are seasonally-appropriate (such as a linen blazer) and can spend a good few months out of action.
Out of sight, out of mind can leave you with a nasty surprise when it comes back into play. Store these clothes in a garment bag (like you would your suits) or sealed storage box to protect them from dust (and whatever else might be crawling around in there – see next point). Vacuum storage boxes are particularly useful if you don’t have the luxury of space.
Vacuum Storage Totes Standard, available at Lakeland, priced £13.85.
It’s not just other people that are going to take an interest in your new investment pieces, but also the occasional creepy crawly. No one wants to pull out a cashmere knit to find it having been the main course of a moth larvae’s lunch.
There are various options to combat this, such as sprays, hanging bags and oils. The option kindest to clothes is the natural properties of cedar wood once again. Small cedar wood balls reduce moisture in wardrobes and drawers, reducing the chance of it becoming a breeding ground.
Cedar Wood Blocks And Cubes, available at scottsofstow.co.uk, priced £14.90.
Tips For Longer Lasting Clothes
- Take note of care labels, they’re there for a reason.
- Learn how to iron. Whether something can or can’t be ironed will be on the care label (see above). Ensure you use the right setting on the iron for the fabric to avoid burning or yellowing the material.
- Avoid the tumble dryer. More so than washing, tumble drying is notoriously tough on clothes. Whenever possible, allow clothes to dry naturally. If in a hurry, iron while damp to speed up the process.
- Invest in a steamer. An iron is a hot piece of metal – that alone doesn’t sound like it does much good to clothes. A steamer can be a kinder alternative to getting creases out, particularly with tailoring.
- Know when to call the professionals (and when not to). Dry cleaning can spruce up a suit but it also reduces its lifespan so limit this to once or twice a year.
- Fold heavy garments such as a cable knit sweater. Hanging for a long time can cause delicate knits to lose shape, so pop them in a drawer where possible.
- Don’t overstuff your wardrobe. Clothes need room to breath so either edit down your items or invest in more efficient storage solutions.