We all drive past the dry cleaners on the way to other places. Some use these cleaners a lot, while others not at all. It is important to understand how it can help you maintain the life of your good clothes. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask many questions of a 30+ year veteran of the dry cleaning industry. He opened my eyes to the world behind the window and lines of hanging shirts. I will attempt to convey the must know elements here today:
1. What is dry cleaning? Dry means no water (H20). However, the cleaners do fully submerse the clothes in a solvent in a large washing machine. The solvent is very expensive; therefore, they reuse it many times. To do this, the special washing machines fill up, agitate, and then drain saving 99% for later use. It also evaporates quickly making the clothes come out of the machine dry.
2. What do I look for in a dry cleaner? In order to reuse the solvent, it should be cleaned and purified regularly. If not, it leaves clothes with a slight dingy look. If you can catch a glimpse of the machine filling up, look at the color of the solvent. If brown, find another cleaner. Also, look for a bottle of bleach lying around as clothes can be ruined easily with a single drop. It may not be possible to spy out their quality if they drive the clothes to another facility for washing. You may need to ask around, research on the internet, and/or closely examine your clothes after a few washings.
3. When should I use a dry cleaner? Short answer – when the label says dry clean only. You may bring non-dry clean clothes to them for dry cleaning, but most likely they will closely follow the instructions on the tag. So if it says “machine wash warm,” then they will wash it with water and detergent the same way you would at home. On the other hand, if your garment absorbs a stain, they can help as long as you did not set it in place with heat. So, if you spill blood or oil or mustard or coffee or spaghetti on it, do not wash and throw it in your hot dryer. Get it to them to treat. They will know how to remove the various types of stains. Definitely use them to clean suits, sweaters, and wool pants. Wool in particular will not react well to a home washing.
4. What things present a restoration challenge? Furs, leathers, suedes, fancy dry cleanable clothing, rayon, molded items and shoes. Leather, for example, is a skin with a life before its transformation. So, scars, burns or nicks may show up after cleaning. Rayon can hold odors and loses half its strength when wet making it tough to clean.
5. Anything else to know? Yes. A select few “specialists” will have an Ozone Machine. It kills mold, mildew, and bacteria in clothes. It eliminates smells such as from smoke and mildew. It can break down the hydrocarbons into CO2 and moisture. With any of these special cases, get it to them quickly. Smoke can continue to burn. Mold can weave throughout the fibers making it very difficult to remove. The mold can be killed and smell removed, but still visible. Last thing to know: dry cleaning is not rough on clothes; it is the hot pressing that leaves wear and tear on collars and cuffs.
Overall, know that a shirt holds a life of about 52 washings. Most importantly, Take the time to find a dry cleaner of excellent quality and treat them as an ally in your battle against sloppy looking clothes.
I also recommend reading Yellow pits or bulls eye for a sloppy look.
© Copyright 2013 Jeremy Gradney.
Imagine a beautiful day. Your spirits almost carry you to work or play or whatever destination. You just can’t help but feel good for some reason. You stop into your favorite little bistro for a snack and spot a line. On any other day, you would hook a u-turn and head for a less crowded venue. But, not today. You feel great and don’t mind the wait. Until… You step into line right behind someone talking on a cell phone. For the next ten minutes, you bear through “You tell him I will … and … What?!!! I can’t believe he would say … When I get through with him, he is going to …” It does not matter if the person screams or whispers, it affects your mood and all those within earshot.
This illustrates the need for guidelines to cell phone use and interaction with others. I give you my own five don’ts:
1. Don’t mess with your phone during a face to face conversation. This includes texting, checking your email, and posting on Facebook or Twitter or WordPress. The day holds ample amounts of time to do these things. When you converse with someone, devote your attention to that person. Most people see or experience this kind of violation almost daily.
2. Don’t talk in public about private issues. The random strangers in the elevator with you do not need to hear the details of your upcoming surgery. Please, spare everyone the awkwardness – hang up and call back in a private place. This goes for the subway, waiting rooms, the library, lines, the gym, and heaven-forbid movie theatres. And if you have no choice but to take that call, lower the volume. Loud = Annoying.
3. Don’t hang up with someone to get another call. Devote your attention to the present conversation. The other person can wait. Let them leave a message and call back later.
4. Don’t take a call while talking with someone in person. Whether friend or acquaintance, your conversation partner did not sign up to idly watch you talk to another person. Don’t be rude. Show him some respect with your full attention. If you must take an urgent call, simply explain the nature of it to the person. 99% of people will understand.
5. Don’t interrupt someone in a phone conversation. In other words, don’t start to explain some task you need completed or the details of a dinner meeting. Wait till the person finishes the call. You can also write a short note and slip it to the person. Then, walk away. Tell the person you are available when he is ready.
I wrote this article as a follow-up to my most popular post, The 4 don’ts of cell phones. You can look great and avoid the worst fashion offenses with your phone, but if you look and sound like an idiot when you whip it out, fashion does not matter.
© Copyright 2013 Jeremy Gradney.
As part of this suit series and to promote my book, I felt this excerpt from my book Fashion for the average man was perfect for a post. From page 22:
You can find suits in the most unlikely places – like Target and the local Discount Suit Barn. That’s right; you can buy an entire suit for under $99 at these discount stores. But what do you get for that price? You end up with cheaper materials that do not have the desired affect or the stamina for regular wear. Most likely, that suit will be made of polyester and will look cheaper. It’s not worth it. It’s like drinking a fine Champaign in a paper cup. I once bought a suit from Target and found that it looked cheap. I wore it only once. Don’t get me wrong, I like Target and shop there for other things, just not suits.
Nothing presents a man better than a quality suit. You can find many areas to save money buying less expensive materials, but a suit should not be one of those areas. What makes a great suit great? First, the absolute best suits are made of 100% wool. It looks and feels luxurious while keeping wrinkles at bay. However, even wool fabrics come in varying levels of quality. Fabric makers grade wool threads by a number determined by the diameter of the threads. The higher quality threads hold a higher number (200 on the high end) and are created with a smaller diameter. When woven into a fabric, these smaller threads make for a finer suit. A higher count equals a higher price. So, choose appropriately. You should be good with a suit just above 100. In the summer, try suits made of cotton or linen. They feel light while keeping you dressed well.
Second, the best suits employ stitching before glue. Cheaper suits contain more glue and will not hold up in the long haul of life. The problem stems from these fused suits’ reaction to water: moisture, sweat, rain, etc. As it gets wet and stretched, a glued suit can begin to show some warping and buckling. A suit should drape naturally off your shoulders and look in good shape.
Lastly, handmade tailored suits rank at the top of suits you can purchase. The tailor constructs it to your measurements and then modifies it to fit you perfectly. Built with the best fabrics, you will be hard-pressed to find any better suit. As a custom suit requires a sizeable dent into your pocket book, you may want to save this option for the day after your big promotion. In the meantime, a quality off-the-rack suit works almost as well. Just, make sure to have a tailor fit it to you.
With your new suit, you will step closer to conquering the business world. So, make a statement every time you lead a presentation or attend an important meeting. Wow a potential employer in your interview. Do it all in a quality suit. And, don’t forget a quality undershirt purchased at Target.
Also, check out:
© Copyright 2013 Jeremy Gradney.
Last Easter, I celebrated Resurrection Sunday at church. Out of respect for Christ and His sacrifice, I chose to wear a suit as seen in the photo. When an occasion speaks of special significance, men wear suits. When men conduct serious business, they often wear suits. When they want to look their best, they wear suits. Really, anytime a man needs to tell the world he approaches his affairs the way he dresses, he wears a suit. Put more simply, Suit = Best foot forward.
A suit stands at the pinnacle of a man’s presentation of himself. Through the years, men put their best feet forward in the way they knew. In the 18th century, this took the form of a white linen shirt with a vest and a Justaucorp (a coat extending half way down the leg) – see the photo of George Washington.
Over the years, that coat would morph into a shorter version and men would embark on a trial and error journey through many variations of the suit. We have seen everything from the Sack suit to heavily padded shoulders to shirtless (do not attempt) to gray flannel to the dinner jacket.
As we have it now, the modern suit has landed in a good place. In fact, nowadays we have access to suits with excellent fabrics, quality construction, and affordable prices. So, if you do not have one, search out a good one soon. Here are 25 reasons why:
- Easter church service (Read Easter fashion)
- Wedding (tell the couple its an important moment)
- Job interview (Check out You’re hired! Wearing the right interview attire)
- Graduation ceremony
- Symphony (exception: concert on the park grass)
- Trial (especially if you have to testify)
- Mediation (wear a tie bar)
- Christmas church service
- Political debate
- Important business meeting
- Award ceremony
- Theatre / Play
- High level presentation
- Dinner at a high end restaurant
- Funeral (wear black)
- To preach a sermon
- School recital (i.e. dance / music)
- Television interview (depends on the subject / show)
- Political speech (whether on a local or national stage)
- Baby dedication at church
- Business party (depends on the occasion)
- Prom (for the younger readers)
- High level negotiation
- To teach a university class
A few years back, I was invited to a personally hosted ballroom dancing event. Dress code was listed as semi-formal. To eliminate any confusion, I asked the host what he meant for us to wear. He intended the men to attend in a suit. For the event, the group met at the community center of the host’s neighborhood. Interestingly, only the host and I even had on a jacket that night. Surprisingly, several men chose jeans for the evening. Wow, we have a lot of work to do out there.
The next time you receive an invite to a really special occasion, remember to don that suit. Presenting to a large business group? Tell the audience you know your stuff with an excellent speech and a great suit. It makes the difference. With a properly tailored quality suit, you will find it tough to look bad.
For more on suits, read Suits 101: Elements of a properly fitting suit.
© Copyright 2013 Jeremy Gradney.
Gray three piece suit. Coat cut perfectly around the chest with the correct shoulder width. Sleeves too long and pant legs too short (high water possibly). Otherwise, everything else fit just right. No tie. This describes a man I observed on a return flight home a few weeks back. Not sure why he chose to wear a three piece with no tie. It looked like he missed a step. Moreover, I don’t think he even knew about the sleeves and pants. If only he realized he stood a few tweaks away from a truly marvelous presentation.
As I discussed in Where do I start? Tips for launching your fashion journey, the fit of your clothes and suits in particular will always remain of utmost importance. Grab a hold of this and your fashion sense will work to your advantage. For suits, it is time to dive into the basics of how they should fit. Observe these pertinent areas:
1. Chest – The coat should lay smoothly on your chest without engulfing you, pushing the collar away from your neck, or buckling in front a lot. To know your chest size, measure the perimeter of your body in inches around your chest and under your arms (usually ranges from 38 to 50). Many off the rack suits have this number listed with a letter after (i.e. 42R or 42 Regular).
2. Waist – When buttoned, the coat should allow for an inch or so of room. The more space, the more you look like you are wearing your dad’s suit (in other words, too big). Too tight and you’re busting out with buttons straining.
3. Sleeve length – The sleeve should allow ½ inch of the shirt cuff to show. This provides a proper transition from the suit to the hand.
4. Shoulder width – Too small and people begin to wonder how your body supports your head. Too wide and your head appears disproportionately small. Generally, the suit should extend to a smidge past the end of the shoulders. This may vary depending on your frame. Bear this in mind when admiring your potential suit in the mirror.
5. Collar – Allow ½ inch of shirt collar to show above the suit collar. When trying on suit coats, wear a nice dress shirt (Something to keep in mind when heading out the door to shop for a suit).
6. Back length – Measuring from the low part of the collar to the floor, the bottom of the coat should generally fall to about the midpoint. Depending on your height, you will find off the rack suits labeled in one of three ways – short, regular, or long (i.e. 42R or 42 Regular). Overall, the coat bottom should land at about the about the knuckle of the thumb (keep this in mind if you have an odd body type).
7. Pant waist – To find your waist size, measure around the perimeter of your waist in inches above your hips where the pant waist will rest (or try various pant sizes until you find the size that fits best. Allow two fingers inside the waist band.)
8. Pant length – Your pants should extend to just above the heel in the back. You will have a slight buckle in the front two to five inches above the shoe as the pants cover greater than half of the top part of the shoe. In general, the length should keep your socks mostly covered as you walk.
Pay attention to the details with a suit as it should present you in the best possible light – better than any other clothes. Take note: An improperly fitting suit of quality appears worse than a properly fitting suit of less quality. What’s the best of all? A properly fitting suit of high quality.
I also recommend reading:
© Copyright 2013 Jeremy Gradney.
You order a twenty ounce T-bone steak with a combination of filet and strip loin, well-trimmed and aged with the bone-in, juicy and tender, cooked to perfection. You also order a side of garlic potatoes, slightly crisp green beans, and your favorite glass of wine to compliment the meal. You’ve been grazing on the warm loaf of French bread and fresh cream butter when you see the waiter approaching your table. You can smell your steak wafting its way to you. The waiter is smiling, the steak still has a faint sizzle, and you are about to enjoy your order. After your waiter places your meal before you, fork and knife in hand, you pause to notice that they have served it to you on a garbage can lid.
What? Suddenly, your appetite fades and even though the food is amazing, the presentation just robbed you of a fantastic meal.
What’s at “steak?” You guessed it; you are. Presentation can make or break you. Maybe you’ve never given much thought to the way you dress or put yourself together in the morning. Perhaps this blog is your starting point, or maybe you already understand that people do make quick judgments about you based on your appearance. Yes, it’s true, and women are the worst at making those quick judgments. (By the way, this is Jeremy’s wife writing!)
So my husband has been asking me to compose an article for his blog for months! When I asked him what he wanted, he said “men’s fashion from a woman’s point of view.” And he says keep it under 500 words…yeah right! I think in clusters of 500 words!
Recently, a single girlfriend of mine put in her Facebook status “Nothing like seeing an attractive man in a suit in your building to start your day…yummy!” I giggled after I read it, but it’s true. Maybe I wouldn’t have put it in those words exactly; but hey guys, in the words of ZZ Top, “every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man!”
What do we like? It’s not necessarily all about suits and ties, but it is how your present yourself. Stick to your personal style, whether it’s rugged, classic, country, retro, or whatever; take the time to make yourself look like a 5 star meal with the right presentation. You may need to upgrade some things. If you haven’t a clue where to start and it seems overwhelming to think about wardrobe and style, this blog is a great starting place.
Women pay attention to details and so should you. Take pride in yourself. Put effort into your presentation, work on your health and fitness, strengthen your spiritual wellbeing, get enough sleep, practice good hygiene, and wear a smile! 463 words, BAM!