Good suits are expensive, and like every other item you buy, you want them to last as long as possible. The key to this longevity is a proper care routine, which I have outlined below, and divided into three sections: Using the suit, cleaning the suit, and storing the suit. Follow these tips and not only will your suits last longer, but the will look better as well. You should pick a time during the week (usually saturday or sunday) where you check and prepare all your clothes for the coming week; this ensures that you are properly prepared, and aren’t going to be surprised by a wrinkly jacket the morning you have to wear it.
As you wear your suits, small particles of dirt, dust, and other debris build up in the fabric. Before and after you wear your suit, and as part of your cleaning regimen, you should use a good clothes brush to separate these particles from the fabric fibres, and then use a sticky lint roller to pick up and remove this debris. If you want instructions on how to brush your jacket, check out this article over on Real Men Real Style.
The natural wool fibres in your suit are delicate, so wearing the same suit day in, day out will wear it out exponentially faster. The suit needs time to rest in between wearing; if you have enough suits, only wear a suit once a week, otherwise, give it a day between wearings.
Spot Clean and Dry Cleaning
If you are ever unfortunate enough to get dirt on your suit, or some similar stain, resist the urge to take it straight to the dry cleaners. First, try to spot clean the stain. Use clean water (and perhaps a bit of stain remover), and a cloth to gently try to remove the stain yourself. If it is something serious, or you don’t feel comfortable trying to remove it yourself, then take it to the dry cleaner. Always take both the jacket and the trousers to be cleaned, as the cleaning and pressing process can subtly alter the appearance of the fabric, and the difference becomes more pronounced after various cleanings. Unless your suits are constantly getting dirty, aim at having them dry cleaned as little as possible (3-4 times per year at most). Have a look at this article from The Art of Manliness, for a guide to dry cleaning.
Steaming your suits is just about the best thing that you can do for them. Steam effectively deodorizes the fabric, and removes wrinkles. If you have a tailors bust, use that, but for everyone else, hang the suit on its hanger, and run the steamer over the jacket, avoiding the chest area. In addition to the chest area not wrinkling as much, steaming the chest may alter the shape of the internal canvas.
Prolonged heat from an iron at a high setting can damage the fabric, and give it an unwanted shine, so be very careful when trying to press your suit with an iron. If you must use an iron to press your jacket, use high steam, and a press cloth as a barrier. Many people choose to invest in a trouser press, which, as the name suggests, is used to easily press your trousers; this can just as easily be accomplished with an iron and a pressing cloth. Remember to use lots of steam, and that dampening the cloth of your trousers will result in a sharper crease.
Always use a good quality hanger that is large enough and strong enough to support both the shoulders, and the weight of the jacket. Ideally, the ends will be between 1.5″ and 2″, and it will be made from wood. Wood is theoretically better than plastic for a number of reasons, including: wood absorbs moisture from the jacket; wood hangers are more environmentally friendly; wood hangers help deodorise the jacket (the same way shoe trees deodorise shoes); and wood hangers look better. They are, however, more expensive than plastic hangers, which will often come with the suits. Under no circumstances should you ever use a metal hanger (unless you are trying to break into a car, in which case there are far better options).
When you are going to be storing your suits for long periods of time (putting away your winter suits for the summer), you should always be storing them in decent garment bags. The nylon bags that the suit is typically sold in if fine for travel, but for extended storage, you should be using something made from a natural fibre lie cotton; something that will let the air circulate, and help prevent the jacket from going moldy.
Ideally we would all have walk in closets with hardwood shelving, lighting, and climate control. Practically, you should be storing your suits in a cool, dry place, with good air flow. If you live in a particularly humid climate, you may want to put a de-himidifier in your closet. Humidity and poor air flow leads to mold and moths; neither of which are good for your clothes. Hang your suits a couple of inches apart to ensure good airflow.
I live in a very nice climate, and moths have never been an issue for me, so I can’t speak from personal experience here, but moths are bad for your suits; mostly because they like to live in, and eat them. You can prevent moths using a variety of methods: moths thrive at relatively high humidity, so ensuring low humidity and proper air flow will go a long way towards removing the problem; the smell of cedar and lavender are also reportedly used to mask the smell of the fabric, and this is supposed to help prevent moths, so cedar chips and sprigs of lavender in your closet may help, as will using cedar hangers. Moth balls are best used in confined spaces (inside the garment bag), but they leave a strong smell which is very difficult to remove.
Moth damage is very difficult to fix, and often results in having to throw away expensive garments, so do everything you can to prevent moths from getting to your clothing. For a good article on clothes moths, click here.