Brushing Your Clothing: A Guide for the Man Without a Man

This past Thursday Mrs. E. and I took the fast trip up 95N to visit her brother at the Smithsonian and to take the children to see dinosaurs and trains. We returned to Richmond after a quick overnight at my mother’s house. Needless to say, we travelled light. While staying the few overnight hours before the return trip, we took in the DVD of “Up In the Air” with George Clooney. A fine film and an inspiring tutorial on traveling very light indeed.

My wardrobe for the two days consisted of a blue flannel sportcoat, grey worsted flat front trousers, an off-white soft shirt and striped tie, suede Cole Haan air-brogues and a blue cashmere sweater and polo shirt for the drive home. All well and good. It is just a shame that I don’t have a valet. A valet would have made sure that my clothing was brushed and ready for the next day. Flannel, as you know, should be rested before being worn again. Brushing (all clothing in fact, not just flannel) helps preserve the fabric, extending the lives of your Sunday best and your workhorse wardrobe.

I don’t have a valet. But I do have a decent clothes brush.

A good brush should be natural bristled as they are less harsh on delicate fabrics. Kent makes some nice ones, including a travel brush which wouldn’t take up too much room and would come in handy for extended trips.

The brush may be used for damp brushing a suit, too. Yes, damp brushing. That one’s for another post.

Herewith a quick tutorial on brushing your jacket (this is the one I travelled in) liberally adapted from Stanley Ager’s method.

Brush the front of your jacket using short, firm strokes but not choppy enough to damage the fabric. First brush against the nap, then with it.

Next, the outside of the sleeve, up and down the nap.

Fold the sleeve back and brush the inside of the sleeve, up and down the nap. Brush the side of the jacket in back of the sleeve.

Now brush the shoulders. Start just outside the sleevehead and brush to the collar and then back to the sleeve head. It’s important to lift the nap of the fabric here as the shoulders collect a lot of dust, dandruff and grime from shoulder straps.

Now the back… up and down the nap.

Finally under the collar. Brush the interlining from left to right, and right to left. Like the cuffs on your trousers, this area really hides all sorts of dirt.

Remember to always brush with the nap after brushing against it; you risk making the jacket’s surface look uneven and patchy in the light otherwise.

And, since it’s almost spring, you may now store your jacket until Fall.

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