How To Care For Your Dress Clothes

Your dress clothes are some the most expensive items in your closet – they deserve to be treated well. The experts at men’s boutique Paul Fredrick spoke with us on how to make your dress clothes last, how to master ironing, and even what to do in tricky situations like traveling or a summer heat wave. Read their tips below!

SB: Should I dry clean my dress shirts or wash them at home and why?

PF: Washing your dress shirts at home is the better way to go. Unless the shirt is extremely soiled, you’ll get a longer lifespan out of the shirt when it is not subjected to the harsh chemicals and high heat used in most dry cleaners. Washing at home is also the most economical way to care for your dress shirt.

SB: If I’m traveling for business during very hot weather, how do I dress formally without overheating?

PF: Be sure to wear 100% cotton shirts, as they are the most breathable and comfortable. A 100% broadcloth (or poplin) shirt is the most ideal choice. Short-sleeve dress shirts are a good option for very warm temperatures. PaulFredrick_StylebookInterview_4

SB: What if I’m short on time but need to look presentable? Are there any shortcuts to getting a wrinkle-free shirt?

PF: Your best option is a non-iron shirt. True non-iron shirts can be washed at home, tumble dried on low and removed promptly from the dryer. To remove wrinkles from hanging, place the shirt in the dryer for 10 minutes, and then remove promptly. The heat from the dryer releases the wrinkles in non-iron fabric.

For a regular cotton shirt, you can throw it in the dryer before ironing. The tumbling of the dryer will help loosen some wrinkles, which will shorten the ironing time.

SB: Do I have to take care of wrinkle-resistant shirts in a certain way to maintain the wrinkle-resistant properties? 

PF: If your shirt is non-iron, do not dry clean it! Instead, machine wash the shirt on warm with similar colors. When finished, to avoid wrinkles, tumble dry the shirt and remove promptly. To remove wrinkles from hanging, place the shirt in the dryer for 10 minutes, then remove promptly. The heat from the dryer releases the wrinkles in non-iron.

SB: What’s the best way to iron a dress shirt at home so it actually looks crisp and pressed?

PF: For the best ironing results on a regular cotton dress shirt, you need to have an iron with high heat capability (above 1800 watts). The iron should also have a steam function as well. Be sure to also use an ironing board with a good pad and have a water spray bottle handy. The spray bottle along with the steam can be used while ironing to smooth out tough wrinkles.

  1. You start ironing your collar first. Pop it up and iron each side, point to point.
  2. Next, iron your cuffs. To iron the cuffs, unbutton them a lay out flat. Do not iron over the actual button.
  3. Then it’s on to ironing the shirtfront. Iron each side from the shoulder down and maneuver as best as possible around the button side.
  4. Now, move on to the back of the shirt. It’s best to position one of the sleeve heads into the square edge of the ironing board. This puts the back of the shirt in a prime position to be ironed.
  5. Sleeves are the last section of the shirt to be ironed.
  6. The key to ironing sleeves is to be sure the fabric is flat and smooth before applying the iron. Once complete, place the shirt on a hanger for a quick inspection.

SB: How often should I dry-clean my suit? Is it possible to spot clean a suit?

PF: The less frequently you dry clean your suit or sport coat, the better. Once a season is plenty, but if you do get a spot on your garment, take it to the dry cleaner immediately. Your dry cleaner should know which method to use to remove it, depending upon the cause of the stain. When dry cleaning a suit, always have both the jacket and trousers cleaned at the same time to avoid the slight changes in color that dry cleaning can sometimes cause.

Brush your garment with a clothing brush after each wearing. Brush with short quick strokes, first up against the nap then down with the grain of the fabric. There are four types of brushes that you may use to get dirt, dust, and lint off your garment:

  1. A roller with sticky sheets is best for getting pet hair and lint off your clothes. Keep one of these brushes in your car or office desk for emergency use.
  2. A wire bristle brush, usually brass, can be used for deeper cleaning.
  3. Nylon or other bristles are also effective for deep cleaning.
  4. A raised fabric brush will create static electricity to pick up lint; brush one way to clean your clothes and the brush opposite way to clean the brush. These sometimes come in combination with nylon brushes.

SB: What’s the best way to store a suit I only wear sometimes?

PF: Rest your suit or sport coat for at least one full day between wearing; make sure there is room in your closet for adequate air circulation. Hang your garment on a wooden or plastic contour hanger to retain its shape. You may choose to use a cloth cover, which will provide protection from dust and allow the fabric to breathe.

For long-term storage, keep your garment in a dry, temperature-controlled space. Ideally, you should store your garment in a cedar closet, which along with mothballs will deter cloth-eating moths. Before putting your suit or sport coat in storage, make sure to dry clean it, because moths are attracted to soil, fresh food stains, and sweat residue. Remove the dry cleaner’s plastic and the tissue paper so that moisture will not accumulate on the clothes. A breathable fabric or paper bag is best for long-term storage.

SB: Can I prevent stains from forming on the inside collar of a dress shirt and can I fix it? 

PF: A couple of ways to help prevent inside collar stains is to wear an undershirt or use some type of athletic tape inside the collar. To clean the stains, you need to pre-treat the collar area before washing the entire shirt. Some people use shampoo or even dishwashing liquid since the stains are oil based. Remove the collar stays and gently rub in the cleaning solution with hot water. Let the collar sit for 15-20 minutes before laundering the entire shirt.

SB: How can I keep my white shirts as bright possible? 

PF: You should start by separating your whites from colors when washing. Pre-treat any stains first before putting them in the washer. Use a generous amount of detergent and hot water. You can also add a minimal amount of bleach.

SB: What’s your favorite go-to-fix for clothes while traveling?​

PF: Personally, I like the “Tide to go” pen. It’s small, easy to travel with and helps with most stains.

SB: What’s the best way to pack a suit to prevent creases?

PF: Looking good while traveling is a challenge any modern, well-dressed gentleman will inevitably face in today’s global society, and one that can feel impossible. Wrinkles always seem to find their way into your favorite dress shirt. But don’t lose hope! Whether you’re headed to a week of relaxation or a high-powered investor meeting, we can help keep you looking sharp, even if you just stepped off the plane.

  1. A Fresh Start – Starting out right goes a long way. Make sure all the clothing you’re planning to bring is clean and pressed before you pack it. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you even leave your house.
  2. Garment Bags Are Your Friend – If you can bring one, a garment bag is the easiest way to keep your clothes looking neat while you travel. You hang them at home, so why change that when you’re on the road? Keeping shirts in separate cleaning bags within the garment bag can help keep them from bunching up and wrinkling, not to mention keep things organized.
  3. Fold and Roll – Of course, sometimes a garment bag isn’t practical. If you need to pack your clothing in a suitcase, we recommend folding and tightly rolling items. Fold and roll everything you plan to take before selecting your suitcase–that way, you can choose luggage that will be tightly packed. (Loose packing means room for clothes to move around, which leads to wrinkles.) You could also pack folded shirts still in the packaging used by your laundry service.
  4. Shower With Your Clothes – Well, sort of. When you reach your destination, immediately unpack your clothes and hang them in the bathroom as you’re taking a shower–the steam will help ease out wrinkles.
  5. Steam Power – Speaking of steam, a travel steamer is a great way to quickly smooth out clothing if the unthinkable happens and wrinkles invade. They’re relatively inexpensive and a good investment for the frequent traveler.

Choosing the right colors when you’re getting dressed can make your skin glow, your figure look amazing, and your outfit stand out for all the right reasons. Learn how to create interesting color combinations and wear color strategically with these helpful tips from blogger and fashion consultant Reachel Bagley.

How To Choose Complimentary Colors

SB: You do such a phenomenal job creating colorful outfits. Do you have any advice for someone looking to incorporate color into their wardrobe?

RB: I love to experiment with color harmonies (complementary, analogous, monochromatic, etc).  Complementary (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) are great when you want a pop.  But to avoid looking like a seasonal decoration or an homage to a sports team, choose tints, shades, or other variations on primary hues, for example- burgundy & mint rather than red and green, or powder blue & flame in favor or blue and orange.  Buy a color wheel from the art store, and start playing around with it.

Color Combination Ideas

SB: How do you come up with your color palettes? How can people develop their own color palettes?

RB: Many mornings I start by holding one item alongside a series of others in my closet.  If I feel like wearing a top, I run the color against my skirts or pants until I see something I like.  Don’t be afraid to cross pollinate your closet.  Break out of the box that “one top shall only be paired with one bottom.”

SB: What are your favorite color combinations?

RB: I’m drawn to color triads, which means the colors are equally spaced from each other on the color wheel.  The most classic option is red, yellow, and blue, adding the yellow immediately breaks the Patriotic connection. But I also love teal, magenta, and chartreuse. Whether the colors are pale, dark, bright, or muted, doesn’t matter.  When you have all three hues in a single outfit, it immediately feels balanced, yet unexpected.

SB: How can our readers use color to make the most of their figure?

RB: Darker colors minimize, brighter colors enhance.  So if you have an area of your figure you want to spotlight, apply bright, bold colors.  I also highly recommend knowing which colors work best with your complexion.  Wear the colors that make your eyes sparkle and your cheeks glow, closest to your face.  Even if a color isn’t your best match, you can always wear it on the bottom, or as an accessory.

SB: How can I make sure that my colors and prints work together without being overwhelming?

RB: Overwhelming is definitely something you need to identify on your personal style spectrum.  What is garish to one person is gorgeous to another. Find out your own range and then push the edges.  If you’re a neutral-solid gal, push yourself to experiment in monochromatic tones: pairing lavender and wine is still technically monochromatic since both colors are from the same purple family.  Another option for the easily overwhelmed would be a a neon bit of jewelry or a printed belt.  A little pop can make a big impact.

SB: How can color and pattern be incorporated into a small wardrobe without feeling limiting?

RB: We’ve already discussed how to expand your options with color, but don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns.  Choose one dominant pattern, like a floral or plaid, something with more colors, a larger scale, etc.  Then select a supporting pattern like gingham, polka dots, stripes, supporting patterns  have fewer colors, a smaller scale, a simpler aesthetic.  Then link the dominant and supporting patterns with a common color.  Remember, it doesn’t have to match, in fact, I like it better when it doesn’t.

SB: What is your advice for integrating texture into a colorful wardrobe outfit?

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Pinterest has tons of images of perfectly organized, bedroom-sized closets – making it seem like such rooms are commonplace. Unfortunately, for most of us, the best closet we have is a standard walk-in or at worst, no closet at all. Lack of space doesn’t mean that you can’t have the benefits of a beautiful and functional clothing storage. Amanda LeBlanc, personal organizer and spokesperson for custom closet maker Organized Living, walks us through how to deal with a small closet space. Her tips on how to fit all your shoes, what to do if your bedroom has no closet, and how to keep it neat after it’s organized are just what you need!

Organized_Living_Stylebook_AmandaLeBlanc3

photo courtesy of Organized Living

SB: Many women only have a small reach-in closet. What is the most effective way to store shoes in a situation like this? 

AL: Always place shoes heel-to-toe next to one another so you have more space, width-wise, on a shelf. Storing shoes this way also helps you find shoes quicker. For instance, if you have several pairs of black shoes with different heels, you can see both the front and the back of the shoe to allow Read More

Could you resist shopping for an entire year? Holding off on buying a second pair of boots could help you save money for retirement, a house or vacation. In order to make it to your goal, you may find that you need to do more with the clothes you already own. Maria Von Losch, San Diego stylist and TV host, refrained from making any purchases for 365 days – and she wore a cute outfit every day. We talked to her about how she did it and asked her for tips so we could try 30 days of no shopping for ourselves.

SB: Why did you start your “365 no shopping” challenge? 

MVL: I really had no choice. I spent all my savings on shopping because I was in shock from my husband deciding that he no longer wanted to be married, out of the blue. I also thought it would be a great way to revisit all the pieces in my closet that I’ve ignored for years. I decided to blog about it daily to keep accountable, share my story and inspire other women.

SB: What were some challenges and how did you overcome them? 

MVL: Some of the challenges I faced were keeping on trend for each season, taking my outfit photo & blogging everyday and trying to date/have a relationship while having to explain why I had to blog every night and said guy might have to take my outfit pics. That didn’t go over with some guys. Read More

petite styling tips

photos courtesy of View From 5ft 2

If you’re under 5’4″, you’ve probably felt frustration while sifting through frumpy pleated pants and sweater sets in the Petite section of your local department store. Finding petite clothes that are youthful and stylish are Christine Petric‘s specialty. As a 5’2″ fashion blogger, she has gathered a list of petite resources that include both specialty and petite-friendly standard sizes. We asked her where she shops and her top petite styling tips.

SB: What are your favorite stores for stylish petite clothes?

CP: ​I love Anthropologie‘s broad selection as well as ASOS for my fast fashion pieces. J.Crew and LOFT do a great job of curating their best pieces in petite sizing and I can always find goodies at Nordstrom that fit! I put all of my petite shopping favorites in one place on my blog for quick reference as well!​

best stores for petite sizes

J.Crew – dress, ASOS – coat, Anthropologie – sweater, Nordstrom – leather jacket, LOFT – skirt

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Blogger Lindsay Mayer of Shipshow

Blogger Lindsay Mayer of Shipshow: illustration of Moschino sweatshirt – Lindsay Mayer

As a blogger and fashion forecaster, Lindsay Mayer writes about fashion designers’ influence on mass-market retailers. She tracks down low-cost options for looks she spots on the runway and breaks down how retail evolves to fit new trends. We asked her about her favorite fall trends and how we can also find high fashion at low prices.

SB: You have an uncanny ability to find items that look like they’re right off the runway but are available at less expensive stores. If I see something I like, what are your tips for finding a low-cost option?  Read More

You don’t have to be a fashion editor to know that wearing clothes that fit you well can be the difference between looking chic or dumpy. Author and image consultant Nancy Nix-Rice discusses how to identify a good fit, no matter where you shop.

Perfect Fit T-Shirt

crew neck tee – GAP, baseball tee – Forever21

“Even the priciest clothes look awkward and unattractive if they don’t fit perfectly.  And fit means a lot more than just ‘I can zip it.’  A garment should flow gracefully over your body, neither hugging too much or adding bulk in any area.  Given the diversity of female body shapes, an off-the-rack garment is likely to require some alteration to achieving great fit, but the comfort and style are well worth the investment.” – Nancy Nix-Rice 

Q. What are some guidelines to follow to select clothing that’s well-proportioned to my body?

Proportion is primarily about how the lengths of various garment components align with your body. The key is having hemlines – major design horizontals – hit at body areas that can benefit from the attention they draw and not break the outfit into a 50:50 ratio. Read More

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