True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

Caring for fine garments: The false economy of ordinary dry cleaning

Boehlke suit

Will Boehlke is one of the leading arbiters of classic men's style in the USA. And around the world, for that matter. He is also a consultant, speaker and author of the widely-followed, award-winning blog, A Suitable Wardrobe. Every month 100,000+ devotees of fine garments look to Will for advice and guidance.

In today's post, he comments that using an ordinary cleaner to care for fine garments - particularly bespoke and made-to-measure garments - is a false economy. To support his point of view, Will points to a blue WW Chan bespoke cotton suit that he sent to a local cleaner (one that he considers to be the best in the San Francisco area) instead of shipping it to RAVE FabriCARE.

Here's the post in it's entirety ...

"A few dollars or minutes saved on the maintenance of one's tailored clothing can be false economy. In my case, when someone tells me I have a spot on the lapel of my blue cotton suit as my wife did the other morning, I respond that it gives the jacket character. Inwardly I kick myself.

I have written in the past that few of what pass in the United States for clothing cleaning establishments know how to press a jacket. As exhibit one, note that white mar on the lapel to the left of the top buttonhole in the photograph. That discoloration is from the stress of machine pressing against the underside of the top button on a bespoke three roll two, and that after no more than two pressings.

This of course is my own fault. I generally send my tailored clothing down to Scottsdale, where Stu Bloom's RAVE FabriCare does an impeccable job with it. But, for one reason or another, periodically I decide that it is not convenient to box something up and give it to FedEx and I send a piece or two to the local establishment I consider the best cleaner in the Bay area. Good thinking. Machine pressing of the lapels on a cotton suit will quickly leave them with a white spot. Not the end of the world, but unpleasant nonetheless.

Men can of course send their jackets back to the original tailor in many cases for what is called a sponge and press, where the ironing is done by hand. Unfortunately, for those of us who live considerable distances away this is more difficult than it sounds. Besides the time, cost and risk of tranoceanic shipping there is the need to deal with the not inconsiderable bureaucracy that our Department of Homeland Security has created to keep this country safe(r) from those who would threaten our way of life - and I have a suit held in Customs as I write to demonstrate that this is not always easy. But, despite the incentives to keep things local, I proved to myself once again that it is better to do business with someone who deals with comparable items regularly, no matter how far away they may be."

And the moral of the story?

When it comes to caring for fine garments - particularly bespoke or made-to-measure garments - chose the very best dry cleaner around. Even if it's more expensive and less convenient. It pays dividends in the long run.

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