Thursday, 17 July 2014

5 ways to make your suits last longer

If you work in a corporate environment you will know how important your image is.  We are not only assessed on our abilities and our work output but are also assessed on our image - how we look and conduct ourselves.  

If you are male (and often if you are female as well) and work in a corporate environment, the chances are that you will need to wear a suit to work.  The problem is that:

  1. Suits are expensive
  2. There is a difference between cheap suits and fully tailored suits
  3. Suits wear out and you need to replace them.
I have addressed the second problem on this blog before.  I outlined a way to get fully tailored, high quality suits made in Asia which looks better than anything that you can get in western countries for a similar price.

However, even if you do get your suits from Asia you are still paying hundreds of dollars per suit...and suits wear out.  This post will cover some ways you can make your suits last longer.  By following the steps below you will need to replace your suits less often, look better for longer and ultimate save a lot of money.

Suits do wear out...

Suits do wear out and there is nothing worse than seeing someone wear a suit that is well past its use by date.  Although this approach may be 'snobbish', if you are working in any sort of corporate environment you are going to be judged on your looks (in addition to your ability) so you need to know when your suits are looking a little worse for wear.

Some common signs your suit is reaching the end of it's life:
  1. It's starting to become shiny
    • The biggest sign that your suit is starting to reach the end of it's life is that it is starting to get a shine to it.  The shine is caused by the fabric flattening out and starting to reflect light.
    • Unless you bought your shiny suit in the first place (which I do not recommend), any sign of shine should be a sign that you should be investing in a new suit
  2. It doesn't really fit you any more
    • Although your suit may not technically 'look' old, if it isn't really fitting you any more then it is time to get a replacement
    • I'm not talking about gaining or losing a few pounds, but if you have lost a lot of weight and your suit like it was made for someone 4 sizes bigger (which it was) then it's time to get a new one
  3. It has some tears, holes and stains that can't be hidden
    • Stuff happens to suits that we can't avoid.  You catch it on something, you spill something or it's just been over-loved.  Some damage can be hidden (for example some damage to the inside lining of your jacket...but if it is really is time to change the suit

...But there are ways you can make your suit last longer

If you are spending a few hundred dollars every time you buy a suit you want it to last as long as possible so that you get your value for money.  So how do you make your suits last?  Here are some tips which will help you extend the life of your suits!

1. Always buy two trouser suits

Whenever you buy a suit, make sure that you buy two trousers to go with the suit.  The trousers are always the part of the suit that goes first.  You constantly have them on and have them in constant contact with other surfaces (i.e. when you sit down it is rubbing against the chair you are sitting on).  Jackets naturally last longer because they come into contact with other objects less often and we don't always wear them.

Buying two trousers effectively doubles the life of your suit.  People differ on whether you should use one trouser until it dies or alternate them.  I do the former but either works.  As soon as my trousers start to 'die' I replace them with the second pair and presto...I have a new suit!

2. Buy a few suits...and rotate them

If you get your suit tailored overseas, the chances are that you will not be visiting that country every single year.  If you are required to wear your suits every day for work, I recommend buying several (I use 3) suits and rotate them.  

Although the suit doesn't last any longer in terms of the number of wears, it does mean you're not pressured to by a high cost suit locally when your suit does run out (because you are using the Asian tailored suits for longer)

3. Don't wear your jacket in the car...or at your desk

Unless you have a meeting, avoid wearing your jacket at your desk...and never ever wear it in the car.  You want to cause the least amount of damage to your jacket as is possible and rubbing it against the back of your chair at your desk or in the car is a sure way to shorten the life of the jacket (don't forget it has to last the length of two trousers!)

4. Don't place the jacket over the back of your chair

Find somewhere to hang the jacket that isn't the back of your chair.  If you put it on your chair and then lean back you will ruin the collar very quickly which will shorten the life of your suit.

5. Don't dry clean your suit too often

This is something that surprised me and that I was guilty of.  I used to dry clean my suits reasonably often and noticed that they would get a shine very quickly.  I spoke to several tailors who assured me that I don't actually need to dry clean my suits all that often.  2 - 3 times a year is plenty (unless you stain it for some reason).

I was a little sceptical about this at the start but I have been doing this for 2 years now and I have to say that for some reason (possibly because of the natural fibres), suits actually don't smell at all even if you are only cleaning them 3 times a year.

There are plenty of other tips to take care of your suits but the above 5 tips should go a long way to making your suits last which will help you save money and look better for longer.

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