Our 5 Favorite Fine Garment Care Essentials

We’ve outfitted a fair number of women in high-quality custom clothing over the past few years. Whenever a custom garment leaves the shop, we always give some care tips to assure a long life. Here, we share our five favorite garment care tools to help prolong your wardrobe and let you keep more of your wardrobe budget for the actual clothing. (Saving $40 a week on garment care could net you that custom leather jacket in only 6 months!)


We know women who are quite busy with their careers and are well-paid such that it makes sense for them to put their entire wardrobe into the hands of professionals – right down to the jeans and t-shirts. That level of care is a luxury. For the rest of us, a dose of do-it-yourself can have you looking great and feeling confident without breaking the bank..

1) Invest in a decent clothes steamer. We always advise that too frequent dry cleaning is bad for your wardrobe because the chemicals break down the fabric. But if you aren’t dry cleaning after every wear, you may feel the need to freshen the clothing. A high-temperature clothing steamer serves several purposes: removing wrinkles, eliminating odors, and sanitizing. You’ll wonder how you lived without it.

We bought the full-sized Rowenta garment steamer for home use out of necessity. Our 15-year-old Jiffy had breathed its last breath, so to speak, and we needed to steam an outfit by morning. It was more than we wanted to pay at the time, but we’ve been quite happy with it — including the fiber-wrapped hose that doesn’t get hot the way the old rubber one did. We’re recommending it to those who like high-end options.


Rowenta Precision Valet


This popular PurSteam model is the one we use at the shop. It’s a reliable option at about half the price of the Rowenta.

 For our space-constrained city-dwelling friends, this powerful 1,600-watt Rowenta handheld will almost make you feel as though you had a full-sized. Includes attachments and an aluminum/ceramic footplate that’ll get the job done.  


2) Consult our favorite handbook: The Butler’s Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces, by Stanley Ager.

We’ve been recommending this tome for years because of the 50ish pages focused on garment care, brushing, folding, hanging, packing, and other great clothing tips. All the upper-crust household stuff is gravy, so to speak. You’ll be amazed.



3) “The Butler” gives some great instruction on using clothing brushes. (The ultra-wealthy actually have brushing rooms in their homes, but you can get a similar result yourself.) Ager recommends this handmade, cherry wood and natural bristle Kent brush. Natural bristle is fairly stiff.

The travel version of the Kent bristle brush is sans handle and carries a better price tag than its larger cousin.

If you really want to economize, try this horsehair brush instead. Horsehair is a bit softer than bristle, but it’ll do the job at around $10.00.

Dryel starter kit with your first 6 loads

4) Dryel has been an answer to my dry cleaning bill prayers. The big wake-up call was a couple years ago when I sent a daywear dress out for cleaning and had to pay $50 for it! While I don’t use Dryel for all my dry cleaning, you can bet I’m using it for most of my pants, dresses, sweaters, and skirts. Get yourself a starter kit. It’ll include the large cloth bag in which to place around 4 garments at a time. Add 1 Dryel dryer sheet and run it in your dryer for 20-30 minutes. Remove and smooth immediately. Then hang. Handling certain items this way could cost you as little as $1.00 per item for dry cleaning, saving you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in dry cleaning per year, depending on how often you send out. Order-up on the dryer sheet “refills” once you have the dryer bag and you’ll save even more.

When you’re ready to buy some volume, go for something like an 8-sheet refill box of Dryel that can clean 32-40 items:

A note on Dryel’s booster spray that comes with the kit: it doesn’t do much to remove or dissolve spots. Use a spot treatment for that, carefully following manufacturer directions, or send it out to the professionals.

5)  We’re assuming our readers have an iron and ironing board. Those seem like basic issue when setting up home and are great for certain fabrics. Please never, ever let a hot iron touch your fine wool or high quality polyester pants or jacket lest you get the dreaded shiny surface. If you must iron in a pinch, put a cloth between the iron and the garment, or use an ironing “shoe” like this one.

That seems like a pretty good starter session. Let us know what garment care issues you’re running into and we’ll share what we know. Stop back for updates. And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more good stuff.

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