Some men are just effortlessly stylish. It’s their ‘thing’. They just get it. But often the secret to their hat-tip-worthy style isn’t just in the clothes they’re wearing, but how they’ve looked after them.
If you’re more of a ‘floordrobe’ guy who’s forever throwing on whatever’s nearest to his bed, chances are even the most perfectly tailored suit or premium T-shirt will look scruffy if it hasn’t been stored properly.
Maintaining an efficient wardrobe needn’t cost the earth, nor eat into your time – and the results can totally outweigh the effort you put in. Here’s everything you need to know to make your clothes last longer and keeping them looking as good as new.
The whole point of a wardrobe is to organise your clothes, right? And yet even that most basic function can sometimes be forgotten (we’re betting more than one of you out there has woken up to an empty wardrobe, with every item of clothing on the floor or chucked on a chair instead).
It’s a scenario Sarah Gilfillan, owner of men’s personal style consultancy Sartoria Lab, sees time and again: “When I do wardrobe edits, I find it amazing how disorganised people’s wardrobes are – even if they have tonnes of space. The amount of times people say ‘Oh, I was wondering where that was’ is insane!”
Sound familiar? Then know that it pays to think of a wardrobe not as just another piece of furniture but as a tool to organise your clothes, and thus enhance your style.
If you’re a bold dresser, try dividing by colour to make getting ready easier (it also looks good enough to Instagram). Or, if your aesthetic leans more monochrome, hanging navy with navy and black with black creates an easy-to-follow visual guide that can shave precious seconds off your morning routine. The same goes for something as simple as your socks – investing in drawer dividers to split your navy, black and grey pairs can stave off any pre-morning coffee clothing tantrums.
If you’re more of a functional dresser, however, organising by category could be a better bet for you; hanging jackets with jackets and tees with tees makes it easy to build outfits without pulling everything out at once. Gilfillan suggests organising within these categories too:
“Long-sleeved shirts together divided into formal and casual; trousers divided into formal trousers, chinos, jeans, shorts; jackets divided into blazers and casual or outdoor. Finally, sort them into colours. This way you can really see what you’ve got and it highlights where the gaps are.” Which should make drafting a shopping list for what you’re lacking a damn sight easier.
Lastly, why not try hanging up your clothes in outfits? It might seem like a bit of a laborious task, but in the long term the small effort brings maximum reward. Try on outfits at the weekend, then hang them according to day – not only does it save time, but it can stop you falling into a sartorial rut of throwing on the same clobber every day.
You’d be surprised to what extent proper storage can extend the lifespan of your favourite shoes. Here are some general guidelines you should follow:
- Got your shoes soaking wet? Stuffing them with newspaper will absorb excess moisture and help to dry them out.
- Shoe trees should be used to help restore the natural shape of your footwear. But bear in mind that the optimal time for using a shoe tree is actually the hour or two after you have removed the shoes from your feet. After this time, the shoes will have returned to their natural architecture and the trees are, essentially, useless.
- Boots should be stored upright using boot stands – if the tongues fall forward, they could end up with a permanent crease after a few months of storage.
- Leather shoes should be stored in shoe bags – these will help shade the shoes from light that can damage leather and will also keep your shoes free from dust. Plastic bags will keep your shoes moisturised and help prevent them from drying out.
- Store suede shoes in open air (but not in direct sunlight) – unlike some types of footwear that can be stored easily in plastic containers, suede requires exposure to air in order to breathe.
- Sports footwear should be stuffed with newspaper to retain the shape and absorb excess sweat – just make sure it’s acid-free paper and avoid using newsprint, as it could discolour your shoes.
- Don’t forget to rotate. “Avoid wearing the same pair day in, day out,” says Gilfillan. “This gives your shoes a much-needed rest between wears, prolonging their life.”
For more information on caring and storing your footwear collection, check out our comprehensive shoe care manual.
“Eliminate wire hangers from your wardrobe,” says Gilfillan. “They don’t give any shape to jackets and will leave your sweaters with ‘ears’ on the shoulders.”
Not only can wire hangers wreck the line of your tailoring, it’s also worryingly easy to snag knitwear on them too. “If you don’t have enough space for wooden hangers, flocked hangers don’t take up much room and are kinder to your clothes than wire.”
A fabric de-bobbler sounds like a terminally boring investment but, trust us, it’s definitely worth it; unsightly bobbles can instantly undo a nice knit’s appeal. Ignore anyone who tells you to use a razor – it can be too aggressive and actually destroy your jumper – and try a fabric shaver like this one from Philips instead.
Moths can easily destroy even the most orderly armoire. When it comes to lines of defence, mothballs are effective, but often carry a rather distinctive smell that’s far from appealing. Far better are pheromone glue traps, which attract male webbing clothes moths and usually last for several months.
Also worth adding to your arsenal are a couple of good shoe and clothes brushes. Try Jason Markk’s microfiber towel and brush for on-the-go shoe maintenance and invest in a double-sided clothes brush for removing lint and fuzz – we rate Kent Brushes’ classic options.
Streamlining Your Wardrobe
Oddly, getting rid of your clothes can actually make you look better. A clear-out can focus your wardrobe and doing so gives you an opportunity to redefine what suits you.
Even over the course of just a few months our bodies can change shape with age or exercise, which means that tailored blazer you’ve been clinging onto might not necessarily be an impeccable fit anymore.
No contemporary wardrobe maintenance walk-through would be complete without mentioning Marie Kondo, the Japanese ‘organising consultant’ whose book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying has – try not to balk – changed lives and become a global success.
Kondo’s approach is roughly that if something doesn’t ‘spark joy’ in you, then best let it go. It’s a powerful maxim to bear in mind when rifling through your wardrobe. Be ruthless; if it doesn’t suit, put it in a box for storage and come back and re-evaluate next time you do a clear-out – you might hit it off again with that printed shirt at some point down the line.
Tips & Tricks
There’s a wealth of life hacks online for sorting your clothes. But as with most things online, some of these are more useful than others. We rate this hanger trick: turning your hangers around each time you wear an item of clothing to pinpoint what you really do and don’t wear.
Some people swear by rolling up, rather than folding, T-shirts. Not only does this save you a bit of space but – let’s be honest – it looks better too. And if, indeed, you are space-starved, you can always double-up hangers – though we’d avoid using soft drink can tabs to do this, as some over-zealous Pinterest users recommend.
As for the specialist tips? We asked Gilfillan to share some of the wisdom she passes on to her clients:
- Wash knitwear in shampoo (it’s “gentler than regular washing powder”).
- Cover scuffs on the heels of your shoes or leather accessories with a bit of nail varnish in the same colour.
- Put a small bag of cat litter in shoes to remove any bad smells. Yup.
Wardrobe organising. About as exciting as it sounds. But put in a little effort and you’ll get it all back tenfold. Just as you wouldn’t leave your week’s shopping on the kitchen floor next to the fridge, similarly, clothes – whatever their provenance – will last far longer when properly stored.
Are you a neat freak or a sartorial sloth? Have any wardrobe maintenance advice to impart?
Share your tips by commenting below.