There are few things more satisfying than slipping into a new wool suit. The material is fresh, the silhouette is crisp, and the fit is just right.
But how do you keep it that way?
Wool is a fantastic clothing material, but it requires some special treatment to stand the test of time. To help ensure you’re always arriving in style, we’ve put together an in-depth guide with some simple steps to maintain your wool suit so it serves you well for years to come.
1. GIVE IT A BRUSH
One of the many reasons wool is such a popular material for suits is its versatility. Typically wool has a smaller thread count than other fabrics, creating pockets of air that keep you warm in the colder months and allows cooling air through the fabric to keep you cool in the warmer months.
This makes wool suits a comfortable and popular choice, but the low thread count can allow small amounts of dirt and debris to become trapped between the fibres.
Thankfully, a fabric brush can help to keep your suit fresh without damaging the material. Lightly brush in smooth downward strokes, paying extra attention to high-contact areas like jacket sleeves and trouser legs, will stop your suits from becoming clogged with dirt.
2. ALWAYS AIR DRY
To ensure your wool suit will last, avoid the washing machine! Your suit doesn't really require this level of cleaning and will ruin the feel and fit of your suit. Wool, by its nature, is semi-self cleaning as the keratin in the fabric helps to break down grime and sweat.
To help this process along, opt to air dry your suit to help dissipate any unwanted odours. Once you have used a good fabric brush to help remove any debris, an air dry is all you'll need to keep your suit fresh.
3. GENTLY DAB OUT STAINS
Common at special events such as weddings, dinner parties and drinks, you run the risk of spills and stains from clumsy hands.
Like brushing, the key to removing stains from wool suits is to be very careful with the motion in which you’re cleaning your clothing. Using water and a clean cloth, gently dab the stained area to break up the stain. Too much pressure will push the stain deeper into the fabric and will make it more difficult to remove.
Wool-safe detergents can be added to the water for particularly-tough stains, but you must continue to dab lightly and never use bleach or acidic solutions.
4. DRY CLEAN ONLY WHEN NESSECARY
If you're finding you suit will require more than a damp cloth and brush to return it to its former glory, its best to seek a professional.
While dry cleaning is not a bad thing, try to avoid it becoming a habit. Too much dry cleaning can reduce the lifespan of a suit, so you should try to reserve it for when your suit is well and truly dirty. If you follow our previous wool suit treatment steps, two trips a year is spot on to keep your suit in top condition without damaging it.
5. STEAM OUT CREASES
Put that iron down and walk away! Ironing is fine for other clothing but is not suited to wool clothing. The heat from the iron - even at low temperatures - can burn the fibres and damage the structure of the weave. It can also damage the premium finish of the fabric, giving it an unnatural sheen.
The best way to remove creases is to use a steamer, allowing you to gently remove them without overheating the wool. While a steamer is an investment, it is worth it to easily and effortlessly keep your wool suits crisp, fresh and in great condition.
6. HANG WITH CARE
As you would have it, there is an art to hanging a suit. One should opt for a wooden hanger as it will absorb moisture from the fabric. The hanger should be wide enough to fill the shoulders of your jacket to keep the shape and drape of your jacket intact.
Keeping your suit free from pests like moths is a crucial step to ensure longevity of wear. Protect your wool suit by storing it in a clothing bag and placing moth balls or cedar blocks (if you don't like the scent) to dissuade hungry mouths. Choosing a cloth bag is best, as it allows airflow, preventing your suit from becoming stale.
7. TRY TO KEEP YOUR SUITS LIGHT
It’s always better to travel light when donning a wool suit. Bulky wallets and smartphones are relatively heavy and can potentially damage your clothing.
Suit pockets aren’t as robust as other garments, especially your inner jacket pockets. While it may be tempting to keep your valuables close to your chest, the weight can cause the seams of the pockets to distress and eventually tear.
It’s not a wise move aesthetically either, as bulky pockets ruin the crisp silhouette of a fine wool suit.
8. INVEST IN SPARE TROUSERS
Like any clothing, wool suits don’t last forever. However, the act of buying a spare pair of trousers will help to stretch out your suit’s lifespan.
Suit trousers naturally go through more wear and tear than jackets as they’re always in use, meaning high-contact areas will start to show age quicker. As a result of this, you’re far more likely to wash your suit trousers than you would a wool jacket. Owning a spare pair of trousers will allow you to switch between the two to ensure that no single pair is receiving too much use and retain its quality.
TALK TO THE EXPERTS
Here at Tony Barlow Menswear, we have years of industry experience that we love to share. For more style guides, outfit inspiration and clothing advice, head over to our style inspiration page to learn more. Or if you're feeling inspired, check out our full range of suits to try out our tips for maintaining your wool suit.