Sewing. Ironing. Wardrobe maintenance.
No, you are NOT too manly for these skills.
Unless you think looking sloppy is manly…
Or losing the girl to your sharper-looking rival…
Or crying to your wife because you can't do a simple task yourself…
Convinced yet? If not, how about this… wardrobe maintenance is REALLY EASY.
Today I'm going to teach you 5 basic but essential wardrobe maintenance skills that will make you think to yourself, ‘Oh – THAT'S how it's done.'
Buttons, for example. You know that little ‘stalk' that connects a button to your shirt? It's called the shank. How did it get there, and what does it do?
For the answer to that, plus instructions on several other wardrobe maintenance skills, read on.
#1. How To Sew A Button
Start by cutting 24 inches of thread and double-thread your needle. Make both ends equal in length. Obviously, look for thread that matches your shirt and the thread used on the other buttons.
(Speaking of other buttons, your shirt almost certainly came with a few spares. Look for them on the inside of the shirt's bottom front hem.)
Wrap the thread around your index finger and form an X. Pinch the thread, then roll your index finger back. Bring down your middle finger and pull with your other hand. This will form a solid knot that won't come undone.
You will begin sewing by forming an X. Pass the needle through the back of the fabric to the front. Pass through again going front to back. Continue going back and forth until you form the X. You will use the X as a guide to sewing on a button.
Place a second needle on top of the button. This will be useful when forming the shank later on.
Start sewing the button following the same X pattern. Start from back to front then go front to back. Hold the second needle in place for the first few passes. Go through all the button holes about 6 times.
Bring the needle to the front, and remove the second needle. Form the shank by wrapping the thread around 6 times.
The shank gives the button ‘wiggle room' so you don't strain and break the thread when you're buttoning up your shirt.
Push the needle through to the back again. Pull the needle through the threads. Then go through the loop you just formed to create a knot. Repeat this 2.3 times and you'll be set. Finish by cutting the excess thread.
#2. How To Quickly Shine Shoes
Cover your work surface with a cloth or newspaper. Insert shoe trees to give the shoes support. Remove any loose dirt with a horsehair brush.
Wrap a soft cloth around two fingers. Dip into your pot of liquid or cream polish and apply the to the shoes, working in small circles. Work on the second shoe while the first one dries.
Buff the polish off the first shoe with another horsehair brush. Use quick strokes with light pressure. Repeat with the second shoe and you're done.
Shining shoes is the most satisfying part of wardrobe maintenance for me.
#3. How To Iron A Dress Shirt
After washing your dress shirts, fill your iron with distilled water and set it to the right heat setting for your fabric. Cotton dress shirts can usually withstand higher temperatures, but linen and poly blends tend to be more delicate. Start with a medium-low setting and slowly raise the temperature as needed.
Start with the back of the collar. Iron from the edges towards the middle.
Never iron from the middle towards the edges – you'll always get creases.
Work on the cuffs next. Start on the inside, working from the edges to the middle. Give the outside a quick pass using the same method. Be gentle around the buttons!
Work on the sleeves next. Smooth the fabric so you don't cause creases. Work from the cuff to the shoulder. Turn it over and do the same to the other side if needed.
Now it's time for the back. Be careful around pleats – iron underneath the pleats first, then on top of them. You'll have to re-position the shirt several times to iron the entire back.
Work on the shoulders next, moving from the edge towards the middle. Flip the shirt to work on the opposite shoulder.
Now iron the front. Be careful around the buttons, and be sure to get the placket nice and crisp, as this is one of the most visible parts of the shirt. When ironing pockets, work from the edges towards the middle.
Finally, do the front of the collar. As before, work from the edges towards the middle.
#4. How To Care For Suede
Keep the suede jackets and shoes in your wardrobe looking great by brushing them. Use either a wire brush, a crepe brush, or a suede eraser. Be careful not to brush too hard – this can damage the suede. Gently use the brush to remove any dirt.
Brush in one direction so the nap lies neatly. (The nap is the fuzz on the surface.)
If you spill water on your suede dab it with a paper towel and let it dry.
To remove a water stain from suede, apply a thin layer of water over the entire item, let it dry, then brush.
Protect your suede from rain and snow with a waterproof suede spray. Apply it every week or the night before you plan to wear them. Finish off with a quick brushing once dry.
#5. How To Press A Suit
Fill your iron with distilled water and choose the right heat setting. Use a low heat setting if your suit is made of wool. Too much heat denatures the protein in wool – in other words, cooks your wool like an egg – and it can't be uncooked again.
Use a pressing cloth to protect the suit from too much heat. This is a cloth (a handkerchief will do) that you sandwich between the iron and the suit.
Press the iron and pick it straight up. Do not press and slide it like you would on a dress shirt. This will leave shiny marks.
Only press the areas that need it, like the elbows and parts of the front. Make sure the vents are properly aligned and smooth so you don't create creases. Then press out any wrinkles.
Only press the middle of the arm – dress shirts should have a sharp edge on the arm, but suits shouldn't. Also be careful with the lapels – you don't want a crease to form here either.
Pressing the trousers follows the same principles. Use a pressing cloth. Start by pressing the lining of the pockets. Pull out the pockets before pressing the front and the seat.
If trouser legs need pressing, work on ONE leg at a time. You can't press a pant leg through another pant leg.
Make sure the seams at the cuff are lined up, then gently smooth the fabric. Press the edges to form a crease at the bottom of the leg.
Move to the top of the leg next and press on each side. Continue to work down the leg, forming the crease as you go. Now press the center of the leg.
Flip it over and do the same to the other leg.
If ironing is your LEAST favorite part of wardrobe maintenance, you might want to go read up on the steamer vs iron debate and get yourself a steamer instead.
That leads right into my final tip to you, which is this: