On my return to the office today I was surprised to receive a late Christmas gift from one my colleagues: a Kent clothes brush.
A clothes (or suit) brush is an accessory I had long coveted, but had been unable to source in Vancouver. Although the clothes brush is bandied about on the Blogosphere as an unquestionable staple of male existence, in reality they’re a little anachronistic. The truth is that most men treat their suits and jackets rather poorly, either neglecting to clean them entirely, or dry cleaning them into shapeless oblivion. When you consider that a man’s suit collection is almost certainly the most expensive aspect of his wardrobe, it really is astonishing the way most guys treat them: stuffing them into suitcases when traveling and letting them languish on wire hangers week in and week out.
Men wear suits, in the workplace or otherwise, to look good and to look professional. Regardless of how much money you spend on your suits, keeping them clean and looking sharp should be a priority. Otherwise you look neither professional nor well dressed - and where does that leave you?Letting your suit jackets lose their shape, or the fabric lose its lustre from an abundance, or total absence, of cleaning isn’t a good decision for your career or your cheque book.
As I made my rounds to some of Vancouver’s more reputable suit dealers this fall in search of a clothes brush, the best most salesmen could offer me was a lint roller. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised by this. Nevertheless it is tragic that shops in Vancouver can trade as purveyors in the arena of #menswear, and sell thousand dollar suits, yet through ignorance or indifference don’t stock relatively inexpensive brushes. I suspect this is a state of affairs that exists beyond the city limits of Vancouver. Granted, as someone who didn’t own a clothes brush until today I suppose my indignation should be somewhat tempered.
Dry cleaning is indeed the most effective way to get dirt and stains out of a suit. However it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process will over time break down the natural fibres in the wool and canvas of a suit, and the crude two dimensional pressing that accompanies dry cleaning will eventually affect the shape of the jacket. Unless you’re consistently spilling food and drink on yourself, you shouldn’t be dry cleaning a suit more than twice a year.
The good news is that most dirt and dust, along with minor wrinkles, can be easily brushed away. Do this after every wear and you’ll extend the life of your suits considerably. A regular brushing whisks away crumbs and mud and whatever else you’ve picked up during your workday before it gets a chance to be ground deep into the fibres. Regular brushing is also supposed to prevent that nasty shine that well worn suit pants can develop.
I gave my suit jacket a brisk brushing this morning and I was legitimately impressed with the difference it made. If you wear your suits on a regular basis you gradually stop noticing the settling of little fibres and hairs on your jackets and trousers that have accumulated since their last cleaning. A few passes with the brush will breathe life back into the fabric.
Though I don’t doubt that there are many makers of proper clothes brushes, GB Kent & Sons Ltd. (or Kent Brushes as they are more commonly known) have set the the standard for an affordable workhorse of a brush. They’ve been making brushes since 1777, using only natural boar bristle, and have been recognized for their excellence in this field by the granting of various Royal Warrants under nine different reigns.
So buy a clothes brush, and use it often. When the wrinkles in your suits become too much, take them to a reputable cleaner for a proper pressing. This will keep your suits looking better - longer, and pare down your dry cleaning bill considerably. You’ll also be able to look down on your peers who don’t practice this time honoured #menswear tradition.