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How to avoid destroying nice shoes and clothing?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
This will probably make me sound naïve, or a klutz, or both.  But, what the hell...the only stupid questions are those we don't ask, right?  I'm a relative newcomer to the world of what you might call 'better' clothing. I guess I took my early cues from my father the engineer, who, bless his pragmatic heart, wore an alarming amount of polyester to the office and wouldn't know a hand-picked lapel or an English spread collar if it sucker-punched him in a dark alley and lifted his wallet.  Up through about a year ago, my closet featured mostly ragged T-shirts, gym shorts, and hiking boots.  My best 'dress' shirts were from Stafford, and my lone pair of black Florsheim lace-ups, purchased in 1986, were coming apart at the well-worn soles--I'd never even heard of a shoe tree.  I've gradually been replacing all this with better-made stuff, though not to the level of some here.  It's been fun, even if I do have that sinking realization that the pursuit of fashion is a never-ending spiral of acquisition and desire. But from my new marginally-hip vantage point, I'm realizing that one big advantage to my previous state of unfashion was total freedom from worry.  Salad dressing on the Dockers? Grab a new pair for $25.  Unsightly sweat stain on a T-shirt?  Run another 10K race and pick up a new one for free.  Scuffs? Ha. On running shoes???   To the well-dressed man, however, the world suddenly seems a vicious and foreboding place.  The sharp protrusions of tables, chairs, and door-handles lash out at defenseless trouser buttons and pleats.  Barbaric hordes of stones, curbs, overhanging baseboard heaters, luggage wheels, brake pedals, and other ankle-high perils menace the unwary Alden calfskin oxford, while the bespoke shirt and woven-silk tie cringe before airborne mud droplets, pigeons, grimy weatherstripping on car doors, and that careless beer-sloshing guy at the crowded, trendy bar downtown. Maybe all this really says is that I'm a somewhat clumsy and sloppy individual who doesn't watch where he's walking.  I don't know.  I just read with incredulity about how y'all have this or that pair of $1K bespoke Smith-Smythe-Tewksbury handgrade shoes you've worn to the office or the courtroom for 15 years, which still look like new shoes today.  Mine seem to pick up one or two deep gouges just driving to a damn wedding.  I now know how to dress nicely--I'm just leery of doing anything involving motion or interaction with people and objects once I've successfully done so. If the ultimate fashion goal is "unconscious elegance," I've a very long way to go indeed. So when I read of the various exploits of my fellow fashionistas on this board, I wonder: is this an issue you're conscious of every moment when you wear nice things?  Do you replace/repair/dryclean your fine clothing constantly to keep up with the inevitable damage? Or is everyone here just far more graceful and circumspect than I?   Adam C.
post #2 of 8
Great post. It took me back to the foggy beginnings of my clothing hobby/business. A few words of advice: Relax. If you are overly worried about ruining your clothes then you will not look good in them. I've been there, done that, and am not going back. They are just clothes. Buy at a substantial discount so that you don't lose a small fortune if something happens. Steer clear of overly fragile fabrics (unless you get the items for super dirt cheap.) Good cloth can take a lot of abuse and still look great. Do take reasonable precautions, just don't stress about them. Pick up your feet when you walk, check the seat at a restaurant before you sit down, lean forward when you eat, etc. I think wearing good clothes has made me a more graceful (for lack of a more manly word :-) individual. It teaches you to be aware of what you are doing. It will become second nature after a while.
post #3 of 8
Hey Acole: You think you have problems now, just wait until you have kids. You come home from work, your four-year-old greets you enthusiastically, giving you a big hug with hands covered with the remains of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Because you are a good dad, you don't recoil in horror, you just gently try to avoid getting smeared while receiving your hugs and kisses. Just remember, these are clothes. You can clean them. You can mend them. Buy nice clothes, but don't buy clothes that you can't afford to wear out or ruin. If putting a big hole in the knee of your new suit pants makes you think about jumping off a cliff, then you are spending too much on your suit. I recal buying a travel raincoat while on a business trip. I was walking home from the store, was jostled, and tore a hole in the coat on a sharp hand-rail. Within 10 minutes of buying the coat, it had a 3 inch rip in it. Nothing to do but get it repaired. Didn't look the same, but it still works well. One thing you will find out is that in many cases, higher quality clothing will stand up to wear, tear, and repeated cleaning better than poor quality clothing. Good shoes, in particular, will look better as they age. As Mr. Harris said, take precautions, but don't go nuts. Buy shoe trees and leather care materials. Buy a clothing brush and a steamer. Buy good suit and coat hangers. If it comes to a choice between sparing your new pants some grease, or helping a little old lady (or a beautiful young lady) to change a flat tire, just recognize that clothing gets dirty some times.
post #4 of 8
I have found that expensive shoes stand up to abuse. As do expensive shirts. However, expensive blazers don't. Nor do expensive ties. My solution... wear less expensive ties. If they get stained, I chuck them. The jackets you can clean/repair, but if I have to get dirty, I take off my jacket and let my shirts suffer. They can take a substantial amount of grime and abuse and still turn out well from the cleaners. -Tom
post #5 of 8
I think Kai has given very sound advice. Yes, I remember that when I first started to be interested in things sartorial, I used to handwash every shirt. And the things that would absolutely kill my day would be: 1) to carelessly, permanently scratch my woven tie with my fingermails while making a knot - possibly the fifth knot that morning because the other four didn't show a nice dimple. 2) to have food stains on my precious tie (another one, not the one in 1 above) which I just bought the day before 3) to kick my newly polished new shoe (get it?) against the stairs, leaving a scratch so tiny it is hardly visible to everybody else When something like that happens, it leaves me extremely unhappy for the rest of the day. Nowadays, I just try to be careful but not go crazy when "accidents" happen. Life is too short to be worried over things like that. Yes, all participants in this forum love clothes (probably more than any other group in the world) but perhaps more than one will agree that everything has to be seen in the larger context of life.
post #6 of 8
Originally posted by acole:
Quote:
To the well-dressed man, however, the world suddenly seems a vicious and foreboding place.  The sharp protrusions of tables, chairs, and door-handles lash out at defenseless trouser buttons and pleats.  Barbaric hordes of stones, curbs, overhanging baseboard heaters, luggage wheels, brake pedals, and other ankle-high perils menace the unwary Alden calfskin oxford, while the bespoke shirt and woven-silk tie cringe before airborne mud droplets, pigeons, grimy weatherstripping on car doors, and that careless beer-sloshing guy at the crowded, trendy bar downtown.
In spite of all the sensible advice already given, I cannot help myself worrying about the threats mentioned, among others... I try not to, but then some disaster happens. At least, disaster is how it seems during the day of the mishap. When I look again later the 'damage' isn't as great as it seemed. PHEW. So. I do try to watch where I'm going, sitting, what I'm eating, drinking et cetera. Accidents will sometimes happen. I remind myself that my clothes are there for me, not the other way around, and try to carry on. Nevertheless, once in a blue moon, my day is ruined. MtB *EDIT* Of course, and as an afterthought, I do keep in mind what I'll be doing during the day. So if I'm going to be mowing the lawn for example I'm NOT going to wear the USD 1K 'Smith-Smythe-Tewksbury' bespokes...
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the responses...they were good advice and good for a chuckle.  It helps to know I'm not abnormally clumsy.   For calfskin dress shoes specifically, is there anything one should do to repair or camouflage small cuts, cracks, and deeper scuffs besides just polishing?  It seems to me I've seen 'scuff repair' products in drugstores, but I don't know how well they work.  Does recrafting (a la AE's or Alden's mail-in service) fix this sort of damage?
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Thanks for all the responses...they were good advice and good for a chuckle.  It helps to know I'm not abnormally clumsy.   For calfskin dress shoes specifically, is there anything one should do to repair or camouflage small cuts, cracks, and deeper scuffs besides just polishing?  It seems to me I've seen 'scuff repair' products in drugstores, but I don't know how well they work.  Does recrafting (a la AE's or Alden's mail-in service) fix this sort of damage?
Use a good leather cream prior to polishing. Rub it into the leather really well. It replenishes the oils in the leather, and minimizes the cuts and scuffs. Let the shoes sit overnight, then give them a good polish. They will look better. Don't fret too much about normal wear on your shoes. Provided you take care of them, a little wear will only improve their looks. Can't comment on recrafting, as I've not had it done. Kai
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