After you have spent a pretty penny investing in a nice suit, bespoke or otherwise, you will have to spend more to keep and care it. Just check the labels…they are almost always ‘dry clean only’. While when a label says ‘dry clean only’, this is a recommendation. For suits, this is really an instruction. Rest assured that your investment will most certainly be ruined if you pop it in the washer. There are two simple reasons for this: the fabric and the construct of the suit.
Suit fabrics. Source: Sartoria Custom Clothier
Suits are typically made from wool, worsted or cashmere. Wool will lose its shape if submerged in water and it may also shrink. Worsted is a wool blend, so it is likely to lose its shape and or shrink as well. Cashmere is a very delicate fabric to the point where if it is manhandled, the fibres will pull apart, so it definitely would not stand up to the rigors of a washing machine.
An unfinished suit. Source: Tailored Stories
Suits are made of many parts and fabrics that contribute to style, fit and comfort. Suits typically have what is called a floating chest piece. This means that the chest canvas inside the suit is not attached to the forepart, which enables the jacket to move with you while retaining its shape and comfort. Other suits have what is called a half canvas construction, this is a mixture of modern and traditional techniques used to enhance appearance, comfort and durability. The half canvas extends across the chest and into the armhole, this actually helps to retain the shape of the outer fabric. The shoulder pad typically accentuates the masculine silhouette.
All this is happening on the inside of the suit. There are also padded lapels made from other kinds of material outside of what you can see on the outside. Hence the need for its careful cleaning.
Generally, whether it’s suit or shirts, skirts or dresses, take wool, silk, cashmere (suits in particular), acetate, velvet and taffeta to the dry cleaners.
Don’t ignore the label, protect your investment.
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