How to clean stains out of your nicest outfits

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You’re out to eat, wearing your favorite suit with the gray pinstripes and the pattern you took forever to pick out. You feel great, enjoying yourself with friends, relaxing after work, eating delicious food and drinking good wine.

But then it happens.

Your worst nightmare comes true.

A passing customer bumps into a waiter and knocks your wine glass onto your lap.

It’s ruined, you think to yourself. There’s no coming back from a red wine stain. Why couldn’t you have just had water?

Don’t panic!

The best time to get the stain out is right as it happens. Letting it set will only further the problem.

Here are some common stains you may encounter and how to get them out of your nicest clothes.

Disclaimer: These are not foolproof and each technique is different based on the type of fabric and the severity of the stain. If you are not completely certain how to treat the stain,

Wine Stain

Treat the spot immediately with warm water, salt it, and let it stand. Rinse away the salt and dab at the stain with detergent. Rinse and launder as you normally would but avoid putting soap flakes into the washer.

Mud or Dirt

Get a bucket of lukewarm water. Soak the item and shake it around, then apply detergent to the rest of the stain and allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes. Rinse and repeat then put it in the laundry.

Sweat Stains

This is a common problem for t shirts and dress shirts. First, wash the item with hot water and detergent. If the stain isn’t too bad yet, this should clear it up. If the stain is still there, soak the item in warm water with a little salt and let it stand. You can also use bleach if the item is white.

Cooking Oil

If you plan to do some cooking in the kitchen, make sure to use an apron to protect yourself and your clothes. If you do happen to get a stain, treat it right away with lukewarm water. Take the item and soak it in warm water with detergent. Dab the stain with detergent, place it down on a paper towel, and let it sit. Repeat this process if the stain persists.

Coffee

Sipping Starbucks while driving in the car can be a dangerous game to play. If you haven’t spilled yet, it’s just a matter of time. If it does happen, soak the spot with lukewarm water as soon as you can. Then dab the stain with detergent or some vinegar diluted in water. Take the item and wash it at the warmest temperature the fabric can handle.

Need more stain cleaning tips?

Check out this article from How to Clean Stuff 

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Favorite Menswear Quotes

Let’s hear what figures in history have to say about menswear.  Here are some of our favorite quotes.

“I’ve never wanted to be in fashion. Because if you’re in fashion, you’re going to be out of fashion.”
– Ralph Lauren

“The man who, as is often said, can get away with wearing a trench coat over his dinner jacket, or an old school tie for a belt, is the one who in fact understands best the rules of proper dress and can bend them to suit his own personality and requirements.”
– G. Bruce Boyer

“A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life.”
– Oscar Wilde

“Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquility that no religion can bestow.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To attain style in dress, you must look perfectly happy and relaxed in your clothes which must appear part of you rather than a wardrobe you have just donned.”
– Hardy Amies

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“I can go all over the world with just three outfits: a blue blazer and gray flannel pants, a gray flannel suit, and black tie.”
– Pierre Cardin

“Putting on a beautifully designed suit elevates my spirit, extols my sense of self, and helps define me as a man to whom details matter.”
– Gay Talese

“Style is when they’re running you out of town and you make it look like you’re leading the parade.”
– William Battie

“Looking good isn’t self-importance; it’s self-respect.”
– Charles Hix

“Clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.”
– Arthur Ashe

“Do the clothes suit you? Do the clothes suit the occasion? Do the clothes suit each other?”
– Richard Plourde

“The boor covers himself, the rich man or the fool adorns himself, and the elegant man gets dressed.”
– Honoré de Balzac

“To adapt a phrase from Le Corbusier, the suit is a machine for living in, close-fitting but comfortable armour, constantly revised and reinvented to be, literally, well suited for modern daily life.”
– Cally Blackman

“A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.”
– Hardy Amies

“Menswear is about subtlety. It’s about good style and good taste.”
– Alexander McQueen

The Wide World of Fabric

The wearing of clothing is unique to the human species, and is a feature of nearly every society on the planet. Exactly when the practice started has been lost to the mists of time, but much evidence suggests that it may have begun as far back as 100,000 to 500,000 years ago. What appear to be sewing needles have been found and dated to around 40,000 years ago. The earliest examples of these needles originate from the Solutrean culture, which existed in what is now France from 19,000 BC to 15,000 BC. Meanwhile, the earliest dyed flax fibers have been found in a prehistoric cave in what is today the Republic of Georgia, and date back to 36,000 BC. Anthropologists have conjectured that animal skins and vegetation were first used as coverings as a method of protection from cold or heat or the elements, especially as humans settled areas in climates alien to them. Another possibility is that the coverings may have been first used for other purposes, such as belief in magic, as a ornamental decoration, as part of cult rituals, or for additional prestige, and then was later found to be practical on its own accord.

For these reasons and much more, clothing and textiles have been important throughout human history and reflect the materials available to a civilization as well as the technologies that it has mastered.

Now, we are not going to provide a whole walkthrough on the history of fabrics! We all know textiles are as ancient as time. Instead, what we want to provide is a better understanding of what we have available in today’s market. And today, thanks to technology, we have evolved so much from the prehistoric methods that the diameter of the fiber (which will contribute to a finer yarn, and therefore provide a more luxurious comfort and pleasure for the wearer) is less than of the human hair!

How does this work? The fineness of a fiber is measured in micrometers (microns). 1 micron=one millionth of a meter. The average diameter of a high quality fiber is 12-24 microns for wool fabrics. The human hair is about 100 microns in diameter. Hmm, hello Super 230s!

But beware the quality of the cloth, or what we refer to as “Super 100s” up to “230s” does not necessarily mean that finer is better. You could have a good 15-micron wool or a bad 15-micron wool. Fineness is just one of the quality components. Length, strength, color and crimp are the others. With the first two particularly so. Length is critical: the longer the fiber the stronger the yarn that can be spun from it. Strength is also essential because the yarn must be twisted tightly to achieve a fine weave.

That said, here is a look at what our most used suit and casual wear fabrics are:

Wool

Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals and is the most widely used textile in the world. Often refered to as “the plywood” of fabric, you can make almost anything out of it. Because of the structure of its fibers, wool has a unique insulating quality and excellent elasticity (meaning that even if wrinkled and stretched, the fabric will recover its original shape). Its fibers’ thin outer membrane is paradoxically water-resistant while also being very absorbent. This means it absorbs moisture away from the body while preventing outside moisture from penetrating. Pure genius!

Wool Gabardine

A tightly woven fabric that is ribbed diagonally on one side and smooth on the other, with a slight sheen.

Wool Crepe

This is a “broken” twill, which means that its yarns are highly twisted to provide a slightly irregular texture.

Wool Silk

Lightweight and semi-sheer. This fabric is softer than wool, but warmer than silk. One of your summer suits’ best friends.

Cotton

Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread, and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to ancient times; fragments of cotton fabric have been found and dated to 5000 BC.

A brushed cotton suit provides a polished look for a hot day, just make sure, if worn separately, both parts of your cotton suit are washed together to keep color on both pieces to fade at the same rate.

Linen

Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather. Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world, dating back to 8000 BC.

Linen is a bast fiber. Flax fibers vary in length from about 25 to 150 cm (18 to 55 in), and average 12-16 microns in diameter. There are two varieties: shorter tow fibers used for coarser fabrics, and longer line fibers used for finer fabrics. Flax fibers can usually be identified by their “nodes,” which add to the flexibility and texture of the fabric.

Linen fabric feels cool to the touch. It is smooth, making the finished fabric lint-free, and gets softer the more it is washed. However, constant creasing in the same place in sharp folds will tend to break the linen threads. This wear can show up in collars, hems, and any area that is iron creased during laundering. Linen has poor elasticity, and does not spring back readily, explaining why it wrinkles so easily.

Seersucker

Seersucker is a thin, puckered, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or checkered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. The word came into English from the Hindustani languages (Urdu and Hindi), and originates from the Persian words “shir o shekar,” meaning “milk and sugar,” probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth texture of milk and the bumpy texture of sugar. Seersucker is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places. This feature causes the fabric to be mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating heat dissipation and air circulation. It also means that pressing is not necessary (play blissful music here)!

Bamboo

Because the fibers of bamboo are very short (less than 3mm long), they are impossible to transform into yarn in a natural process. The usual process by which textiles labeled as being made of bamboo are produced uses only the rayon that is being made out of the fibers with heavy employment of chemicals. To accomplish this, the fibers are broken down with chemicals and extruded through mechanical spinnerets. Retailers have sold both end products as “bamboo fabric” to cash in on bamboo’s current ecofriendly cachet. Be aware of the chemicals involved in this process if you are really going for the “green” effect, though.

Silk Bamboo

Created by spinning the pulp of new bamboo canes into threads, which are then blended with pure silk and woven into a luxurious fabric. It has the softness of cashmere, and is even more breathable than cotton. Perfect for luxurious sleepwear and casual apparel.

Fashion Back Then

Since the beginning of time, man has relied on clothing for numerous reasons.  Cavemen used fur to protect themselves from inclement winter conditions.  Much further ahead in time, there was the doublet, a snug, fitted and buttoned jacket with minimal stitching and a quilted lining (“doubling”) that originated from under armor wear who’s main purpose was to add warmth.

We browsed back in time and found some important garments from different eras along with their purpose and meaning.  Some of them are still part of trends or the everyday fashion of today.  Some others were left behind, thank God, like the cod piece: in the 14th century, men wore two separate leg hose over linen drawers, leaving a man’s genitals covered only by a thin layer of linen.  The codpiece covered this gap.  …Well, it still does exist in some way, as the protective cup in the jockstrap.

Many of these items appeared and were, at the time, stylish, but their main purpose was usually functional, like the ruff (a detacheable colar and cuffs that could themselves be laundered separately, preventing the jacket from getting soiled).

During Elizabethan times, a Sumptuary Clothing Law controlled and specified social structure.  English Sumptuary Laws governing the clothing that Elizabethans wore were well known by all of the English people.  Penalties for violating such laws could be harsh: fines, the loss of property, title and even life (hello, Fashion Police).

Further back, Roman clothes separated the social castes of the Empire.  Slaves, merchants, nobility and Roman Senators could all be easily identified at a distance by their clothing.  Even before that, Egyptians also had a flair for fashion, but the most attention on dress for both men and women was reserved for decorative collars and headdress.

Men’s fashions through the years have been highly influenced by military models.  Changes in the European male silhouette were frequently forged in the theatres of European wars, where gentleman had the opportunity to make notes of foreign styles: an example is the “Steinkirk” cravat or necktie.  Another European example is the frock coat, a knee-length men’s coat that was characterized by a larger chest circumference and smaller waist circumference.  The bottom of the coat, extending from the waistline, resembled that of a flowing skirt.  A frock coat was first seen during the Napoleonic Wars. The Austro-Hungarian and German army officers would wear them during military operations to keep warm and protect their uniforms.  It became more popular and viewed as a fashion statement amongst non-military men during both the Victorian and Edwardian periods. A double-breasted style topped by peak lapels would be worn in a more formal setting, whereas, a single-breasted version with notch lapels would be seen in an informal one.  Could this be one of the causes of today’s common notion that peak lapels are directly associated with a tuxedo or dinner jacket while notches are associated with a suit? It might just be, however, in our world of custom suit design, we like to leave the choice of whether or not to override these traditional views to the individual’s discretion.

In early 1900, King Edward VII aparently grew so rotund that he was unable to fasten the last button of his waistcoat and jacket.  To not offend the king, those associated with him started doing the same.  The custom then gradually spread the world ’round, or so the legend goes.

King Charles II, another noble to be, was known to have a flair for fashion and sported cufflinks regularly, quickly influencing public opinion on this new clothing accessory.  A fashionable and elegant way to fasten their cuffs, earlier fastened by a string.

Trends started and spread widely, and a generation of very well-suited men arised in mid-18th century England.  These men were known as “maccaronis.”  Later on, a similar movement referred to the male taking such pride in dressing as dandy as possible.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Beau Brummell was a model of this movement, claiming to take up to five hours getting dressed.  He also changed men’s fashion in England.  He established the mode of men wearing understated but fitted and beautifully cut clothes adorned with an elaborately knotted cravat.  Brummell is also credited with introducing the modern men’s suit.

So, as we said, fashion back then was mainly functional (well, not to Brummell, at least) and a way to establish social status (silk was only sold to the rich).  But that makes us think that we probably have not evolved much from such methods.  It’s just now a matter of labels: Cartier, Loubotin, Aston Martin, Hermes, and, of course, custom clothing.