Dry Cleaning and the Investment Fee Effect

When I was a stock analyst, clients measured our investment performance net of fees. That’s what you get to keep. As a custom clothier, we’re all about investment dressing, but sometimes the care of fine garments seems like it requires an early draw down of the 401K.

 There’s a hypothetical cost/benefit analysis for your wardrobe that factors in cost per wear as well as what the item does for you when you wear it. It’s hypothetical because it’s hard to quantify the benefit of presenting an impression of quality, or the feeling of confidence we exude when we know we look great. Cost per wear is more intuitive:

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Clearly, the more you wear it, the better your average cost per wear. Unless it costs you a lot to maintain. That last factor can make dressing well seem uneconomical.

 Tempting though it may be, discount dry cleaning is not the answer. Reputable, high-quality cleaners know to use heat at a certain temperature and for a certain duration such that the clothing’s innards fall back into place as they’re meant to be. A quality cleaner will focus more attention on trouble spots, and even remove jewels, fancy buttons, and metal accents, then reattach them after cleaning. Do select a high-quality dry cleaner, pricey though it is. We’re just recommending less of it.

Cleaning too often is not only costly, the use of chemicals will break down the fabric, shortening the life of your precious garments. You may need to dry clean only once or twice a season, depending on your wear patterns and how heavily you perspire. Instead, treat your clothing well at home. When you take it off, shake it out a bit, then hang it to air out before putting it back in the closet. If it’s generally clean but has lost its crispness, instruct your cleaner to “press only.” You’ll save up to 50% versus dry cleaning and prolong its life by avoiding chemicals.

 One of our favorite resources for garment care is “The Butler’s Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces” by Stanley Ager. The author gives nearly 50 pages on care, packing, brushing, and boxing fine clothing. All the other tips about running a high-quality home are a bonus. If you’re a DIY-er or you’re at all price-sensitive, we’ve got an arm’s length of money-saving care tips up our sleeve for you. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid to look your best.