Suits, Sport Coats, and Blazers Questions

April 22, 2011 7:02 pm

Suits, Sport Coats, and Blazers

“It seems that suits have returned. My office is requiring that I wear a suit and since I tend to perspire a lot, I’m worried about the warmer weather. What do you suggest?”

A. The pendulum of workplace fashion is swinging back to suits, blazers and dress shirts. Fortunately, men’s suit makers have introduced new materials to add comfort in the warmer months. We see poplin suits that have polyester fibers designed to move moisture away from the body; “featherweight” suits that are made with higher yarn counts and lower weight fabrics; suits made of high tech fabrics that are similar to the wicking material used in running clothes; and suits with linings removed or partially removed.

It’s best to explore all the options to see what is most comfortable for you.

“I had my sport coat cleaned and several of the yarns pulled out during cleaning. These yarns are thicker than the rest of the yarns and are soft. What happened to my jacket?”

A. Some manufacturers are using soft, fuzzy chenille yarns in men’s clothes. The chenille yarns, which are not securely or tightly woven into the fabric, pull out, resulting in a snagged appearance. This damage may have originated from rubbing and abrasion in use, but may be further aggravated by the necessary agitation in cleaning.

“What happened to my nice wool blazer? It’s not as soft as it used to be.”

A. Many garments, such as blazers and winter coats, have a very soft surface nap. Sometimes a degree of matting or distortion of the nap occurs that changes the texture and appearance. Usually, distorted nap appears as pilling or balling up of the fabric surface with the texture becoming rough or matted. This often occurs from wear or abrasion or overall from the agitation of cleaning. Most soft napped wearing apparel has an average life expectancy of 2-3 years, but the overall appearance and texture should not be permanently altered in this span of time. There are ways to soften the nap, including steaming and brushing. If soft-napped garment feels rough after cleaning, it was probably pressed too long and hard and can be easily corrected with re-cleaning and proper steaming.

“I purchased a matching skirt, pants and jacket as separates. After having the skirt dry cleaned, it was no longer the same exact color as the two other pieces. I think my dry cleaner should pay for skirt, don’t you?”

A. We could call this “The Case of the Suited Separates.” In the store, all three pieces seem to be identical and they may be. However, variations in color may be seen in daylight. Since they are “suited separates,” they may be made in different workrooms from cloth from different dye batches. It’s also true that one of the separates may be cleaned more often than the others with some loss of color, depending on the quality of the dyeing. You also want to check to see if the care instructions in the three garments are the same. If not, you may want to choose the separates that have the same cleaning recommendations.

“I love the loosely woven jackets with the frayed edges, but I’m concerned that they will not hold up over time. What is your opinion?”

A. Fancy/novelty yarns create wonderfully interesting decorative effects in fabrics and can be a great hit for the fall and winter. They can be made from a variety of different fibers such as bouclé, slub, nub, corkscrew, and ratine yarns.

But you are correct–these fabrics may have problems with durability and maintenance. Due to the irregular twist and yarn structure, they tend to snag easily, have decreased abrasion resistance and wear rapidly.

Their looser structure also makes them prone to stretching, shrinkage and yarn slippage. This problem can be progressive and worsen after several cleanings.

Taking extra care with jewelry, watches, belts, handbags, and buttons that have pronged settings can help reduce snags. Reading and carefully following the clothing care label instructions will also help prolong the life of the jacket.

“I recently replaced a gabardine twill jacket because it developed a shine in the shoulder area. How can I prevent this problem from reoccurring?”

A. When you buy a fabric with a “sheen,” it can become shiny from friction or excessive wearing. Friction from sliding in and out of a car, carrying a briefcase, backpack or purse across your shoulder can put pressure on the fabric and cause it to shine. Rotating your wardrobe with other, easier-to-maintain fabrics such as wool, flannel and tweed will result in a longer life for your jacket.

“Can you offer some tips on how I can make my suits last longer and still look sharp?”

A. Suits are a wardrobe staple for both men and women. They can last a long time if cared for properly. Here are tips that can help extend the life of your suits:

  1. When you shop for a suit, consider the fabric as well as the style. If you wear your suit repeatedly, look for sturdy materials and if you travel often, look for wrinkle resistant fabrics.
  2. Don’t overload your pockets, which can strain the seams.
  3. Be conscious of how you carry a briefcase, purse or backpack. If you carry it across your shoulder, the weight can distort the shoulder pad area and cause the fabric to shine.
  4. Unbutton your jacket before you sit down. Also pull the pants/skirt up at the thigh when you sit so you don’t pull the fabric too much.
  5. Hang your suit on a good wooden hanger.
  6. Air your suit for about 24 hours before putting it away. It will help dry moisture and rejuvenate wool since it is a natural fiber.
  7. In your closet, avoid cramming it in between lots of other clothes, which could cause it to wrinkle.
  8. Depending on the quality of the dye, there may be some color loss when cleaned; therefore, it’s best to clean the pieces of your suit at the same time. If you buy “suited separates”, be sure that the care instructions are the same in each garment and carefully examine the color of each garment in the sunlight. It’s possible that they are made from different dye batches and have a color variation.