Some men are just effortlessly stylish. It’s their ‘thing’. They just get it. But often the secret to good style isn’t just the clothes, but how they’re looked after.
If you’re more of a ‘floordrobe’ guy who’s forever throwing on whatever is nearest to the bed, take note. Chances are a 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 keep them looking as good as new this year.
The whole point of a wardrobe is to organise your clothes, right? And yet even that most basic function can sometimes be forgotten. 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, as a result, enhance your style.
If you’re a bold or tonal dresser, try dividing by colour to make getting ready easier. 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 prevent 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 also 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.”
Lastly, why not try hanging up 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 rut of throwing on the same clobber every day.
You’d be surprised to what extent proper storage can extend the lifespan of your shoes. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
- It’s vital to use shoe trees for the first two hours after you’ve removed your shoes to draw out any moisture and help the shoe return to its natural shape.
- When not in use, leather shoes should be kept in shoe bags – these will help shade the shoes from light that can damage leather and will also keep your shoes free from dust.
- Got your shoes soaking wet? Stuff them with newspaper to absorb excess moisture and help to dry them out.
- Store suede shoes in open air (but not in direct sunlight). Unlike some types of footwear that can be stored in plastic containers, suede requires exposure to air in order to breathe.
- Don’t forget to rotate. This gives your shoes a much-needed rest between wears, prolonging their life.
- Sports footwear should be stuffed with newspaper to retain their shape and absorb excess sweat. Just make sure it’s acid-free paper, as it could discolour the fabric.
- Boots should be stored using boot stands – if the tongues fall forward, they could end up with a permanent crease after a few months of storage.
The Essential Kit
“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 lines of your tailoring, it’s also worryingly easy to snag knitwear on them. “If you don’t have enough space for wooden hangers, flocked hangers don’t take up much room and are kinder to your clothes,” adds Gilfillan.
Pack Of 6 FSC-Certified Beech Hangers, available at John Lewis, priced £12.
A fabric de-bobbler sounds like a terminally boring investment, but one that is ultimately worth it. Unsightly bobbles can instantly undo a stylish knit’s appeal. Ignore anyone who tells you to use a razor, the sharp blades can be too aggressive and end up destroying your jumper. Try a fabric shaver instead.
Philips GC026/00 Fabric Shaver, available at Amazon, priced £12.97.
Even in a perfectly built wardrobe, there will be items that are seasonal (such as a linen blazer) and these 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 your wardrobe – 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 £13.99.
Moths can easily destroy even the most orderly wardrobe. When it comes to lines of defence, mothballs are effective, but often carry a rather distinctive smell. Far better are pheromone glue traps, which attract moths and usually last for several months.
Acana Hanging Moth Killer & Wardrobe Fresheners, available at John Lewis, priced £4.95.
Also worth adding to your arsenal is 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 clothes can actually make you look better. A clear-out is a chance to focus your wardrobe and redefine what suits you – and what better time to do this than at the start of a new year?
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. Get it altered or get rid.
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 become a global success.
Kondo’s approach boils down to 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 and maintaining your wardrobe. But as with most things on the internet, some are more useful than others.
- 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.
- Wash knitwear in shampoo, it’s often more gentle than regular washing powder.
- Turn the hanger around each time you wear an item of clothing to pinpoint what you do and don’t make use of.
- Cover scuffs on the heels of your shoes or leather accessories with a bit of nail varnish in the same colour.
- Take note of care labels, they’re there for a reason.
- If you ignore our steamer advice, learn how to iron properly. Whether something can or can’t be ironed will be on the care label. 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.
- Use a salad spinner to dry hand-washed clothes
- Put a small bag of cat litter or tea bags in shoes to remove any bad smells. Yup.
- Not sure you’re ready to say goodbye to something for good? Put it into storage and forget about it. If you don’t go looking for it within six months, get rid.
- 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.
Are you a neat freak or a sartorial sloth? Have any personal wardrobe maintenance tips to impart?
Let us know below.