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How to take care of cotton and Linen jackets

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by rjsphd, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. rjsphd

    rjsphd Well-Known Member

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    I am contemplating the purchase of a linen and a cotton sport coat, both well made. But I realize I really don't know how to economically wear them. In the past I tolerated a fair amount of wrinkling, but not a mess. So I sent my linen suit off to the cleaner for regular pressing. But can I iron cotton and linen jackets without getting sheen? Steaming only works so well, in my experience.
     
  2. DandySF

    DandySF Well-Known Member

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    Using a press cloth will help prevent sheen. However, I've not found cotton or linen to get shiny when pressed.
     
  3. stubloom

    stubloom Well-Known Member

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    Before you select your care regimen, first decide what "look" and "feel" your'e seeking.

    On linens, you might choose (a) steamed but rumpled, (b) smooth but soft, or (c) smooth with a light crispness. Most of my clients go for smooth but soft...the most difficult of all 3 "looks" and "feel" to achieve.

    Darker colored linens are relatively easily shined. If you choose smooth but soft or smooth with a light crispness and your'e pressing at home, use a press cloth. If your'e taking dark colored linens to the dry cleaner WARN them, in advance, not to shine your dark colored linens. They may be pressing all their linens on what is called a hot head press. A crime of fashion!

    On cottons, smooth but soft or smooth with a light crispness are, in my opinion, the only 2 options. The "out of the dryer look" is, again, in my opinion, a non-starter. It's not easy to shine cottons, even dark colored cottons. But, just for safety, if your'e pressing dark cottons at home use a press cloth. If your'e taking your dark colored cottons to a dry cleaner, WARN them, in advance, not to shine your dark colored cottons.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. joonian

    joonian Well-Known Member

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    OP, how do you clean your cotton sport coats? I've got a couple unlined, unpadded cotton ones, including a seersucker one. Send to the drycleaner? Would it be possible to machine wash it at all?
     
  5. Albern

    Albern Well-Known Member

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    Just to add to this, when it comes to wool I use a horsehair brush on both the jacket and pants at the end of the day; is this still applicable to linen and cotton? Both fabrics in question seem too delicate for brushing to me anyway.
     
  6. oldog/oldtrix

    oldog/oldtrix Well-Known Member

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    Before you select your care regimen, first decide what "look" and "feel" your'e seeking.

    On linens, you might choose (a) steamed but rumpled, (b) smooth but soft, or (c) smooth with a light crispness. Most of my clients go for smooth but soft...the most difficult of all 3 "looks" and "feel" to achieve.


    If I were your client, that's the finish I'd specify; but I'm wondering how you would achieve it. The method I use at home:

    (1) Press the suit using a spray bottle (and press cloth for dark linens) which gives a crisp finish. That finish is very prone to sharp creasing when worn, not my favored look.

    (2) Hang the coat and pants on my shower rod using a wide shouldered hanger for the coat and hanging the pants from the waistband using a clip-type hanger so that the pants are fully accessable, front and back.

    (3) Lightly mist the coat and pants all over with a spray bottle and allow to dry to the smooth (relatively) but soft finish.

    Here are the results on a tan linen worn for a couple of hours standing, sitting, and walking in 80 plus degree heat:

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I have a reasonably competent dry cleaner in terms of cleaning garments, but their pressing leaves much to be desired. So when I have garments cleaned I generally instruct them not to press; then I do the pressing at home.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. philosophe

    philosophe Well-Known Member

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    ^^Very wise to do the pressing at home. Your suit looks great.
     
  8. stubloom

    stubloom Well-Known Member

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    Response to oldog/oldtrix: You say you take your cottons and linens to the dry cleaner for cleaning only and not for pressing. Clearly, you've discovered that the cleaning of cotton and linen garments (other than shirt laundry) at most cleaners is passable but the pressing is atrocious. Quite frankly, most "professional pressers" couldn't press a great cotton or linen sport coat IF THEIR VERY LIVES DEPENDED ON IT. You're delegating the easy part -- the dry cleaning -- to your dry cleaner. I say easy because I could teach anyone to operate a dry cleaning machine -- in the manner in which ordinary dry cleaners operate their machines -- in a few days. Your'e taking responsibility for the pressing yourself because the "professionals" do such a poor job on your cottons and linens. Welcome to the shocking world of "professional garment care"! You state that you prefer the smooth but soft look in terms of feel as well as the reduced likelihood of wrinkling. So why are your linens stiff? For 2 reasons... 1. Sizing. Dry cleaners love sizing, the dry cleaning equivalent of starch that they use in their washers. Dry cleaners inject sizing into their dry cleaning in much the same way you might add softener to your home wash. Why use sizing? Because the more sizing that's added, the quicker it is for their pressers to bang out their garments on a press. And high and fast throughput is what ordinary cleaning is all about. (By the way, sizing is also the reason why your wools tend to feel stiff when you get them back from the cleaners). So tell your cleaners that you don't want your cottons and linens sized. EVER. 2. Water spray. You just might be using too much spray on your cottons and linens when your'e ironing. Your spray bottle might be the problem. You need a much finer spray almost like a mist. Combine a fine mist, plenty of elbow grease, a good ironing board and good ironing technique, and you should, with practice, be able to achieve that smooth but soft look your'e seeking. Go to cleanersupply.com and enter "water gun with 5' hose" in their search engine. That's type of sprayer will provide you with a fine mist. You might want to consider this type of mister (as opposed to a spray bottle) attached to an overhead spring and a hook up to a water supply line in your laundry room. I'm sure your local hardware supply store could provide the necessary fittings to attach the hose to your water source. Further reading on this subject..... Blog post: The shocking world of ordinary dry cleaning and shirt laundry http://www.ravefabricare.com/true-qu...t-laundry.aspx Blog post: Why your wools, silks, cottons and linens feel stiff and crusty http://www.ravefabricare.com/true-qu...nd-crusty.aspx
     
  9. rros

    rros Member

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    This is an enlightening thread. Thanks.

    As a follow up.... could anyone offer advice on the after-the-fact dry cleaning nightmare of shiny wool suits? I just got a nice suit through ebay only to discover an annoying shine all over it, perhaps as a result of improper drycleaning? Are there any home made remedies?
     
  10. stubloom

    stubloom Well-Known Member

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    Shine in very specific areas (such as the seat of trousers or elbows of a suit jacket) can be the result of normal wear. Shine in most areas of a garment is, most probably, the result of machine pressing by the dry cleaner: press pressure way too high, steam temperature way too high, pressing for way too long.

    Wools should be hand pressed, never machine pressed. Hand pressing involves technical skill and time and costs much more. Machine pressing can be undertaken by a relatively unskilled operator in a couple of minutes at relatively low cost. You can easily see evidence of shine on darker colors. You are less likely to see evidence of shine on lighter colors.

    Shine is DAMAGE to a garment as a result of poor pressing skills. Shine can sometimes be "fixed". Sometimes the damage is "beyond repair".

    To remove overall shine, the suit must be re-cleaned in a very gentle dry cleaning fluid and then hand pressed by a skilled presser. The result should be a nice luster to the fabric, a soft feel to the fabric, and restoration of the nap of the fabric. That can't be done at home.

    For more information on this subject....

    Blog post: Meet the press

    Blog link: http://www.ravefabricare.com/true-quality-cleaning/2011/1/31/meet-the-press.aspx
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2012
  11. MyOtherLife

    MyOtherLife Well-Known Member

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    Unpadded and unlined or half lined Cotton or linen jackets can be machine washed succesfully in a front doored washer. Do not attempt this with a top loader as the wringer assembly will damage the garment. I do mine in cold water and once done, lay them flat on the laundry table and smooth out with my hands as much as possible, then hang dry. A light and gentle ironing with a warm (not hot) iron gives satisfactory results. Or you can home wash and take to the cleaners for a pressing only. I do this once per year. You do this at your own risk :) So far over here, no disasters.
    Additionally, and this is for newcomers, linen is going to wrinkle. It is unavoidable and part of the nature and charm of the fabric. The most professionaly pressed linen will wrinkle in minutes after wearing it so accept this. Nothing to worry about.
     
  12. razl

    razl Well-Known Member

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    I agree with this as general wisdom and I wear a lot of linen and linen blends. But, your point reminded me to dig this up from a Wall St. Journal article where the author stumbled on a technique that supposedly eliminates or at least substantially mitigates the problem. From Coming Clean
    Just in time for spring cleaning—and stowing away those winter woolens—Annette Tapert shares her secrets to (and fixation with) proper clothing care
    :

    I don't starch anything and, even if I did, I'm not quite ballsy enough to try it out on my linens (most of which are finer items). But I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has had similar results.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  13. rros

    rros Member

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    Thank you!
     
  14. MickeyHardFit

    MickeyHardFit Member

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    I really do not understand whole fuss with linen suits jackets.I like to see nice wrinkle on summer linen suit or jacket, shows that wearer knows right choice for summer day evening.IF you wear cotton or linen i would expect it to go wrinkle, simple as that .IF your suit (linen or cotton) does not have a charm of wrinkle you are wearing some wrong material pretending to be right one.

    For life of me I can not understand 90% of RTW linen and cotton suits(sports jackets) have some sort of lining(full, half ,buggy) which is absolute opposite to intention of suit itself......
    Linen suit with non-breathable linings is just so wrong- or any combo with polyester.Buy linen suit with that sort of lining and you might just as well throw your money wrinkles or not.

    Seersucker jackets are in essence just pre wrinkled option. :)
    In Summer:

    Wear Linen, Wear Cotton -choose breathable half lining if you can and let it wrinkle :)- be honest you are wearing loafer or moccasin on barefoot anyway
     
  15. newtothis

    newtothis New Member

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    Re. caring for a 100% linen sport jacket (lined): I wonder if anyone would care to advise/comment on:

    • Is ironing (if done properly) more damaging to the fabric than steaming?
    • If ironing, and going for a smooth but not overly crisp look, which technique(s) would you advise:
    1. Mist/spray, then iron (high temperature?), with steam ___ without steam____, and no intervening material?
    2. No mist/spray, then iron (high temperature?), with steam ____ without steam____, and over a thin (cotton?) fabric?
    3. No mist/spray, then iron (high temperature?), with steam____ without steam____, and over a dampened cotton fabric?
    4. Different technique(s)?

    Finally, I've been advised that Jiffy Steamer's "J-2" or "J-2000" are appropriate and effective steamers to use on a linen sport jacket. If anyone's had experience with it (or similar), and can give a 'review', I'd be most grateful.

    Thanks, in advance, for any feedback! As my username shows, I am very new to this. . .
     
  16. MickeyHardFit

    MickeyHardFit Member

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    None of the above i used to wear huge amount of linen- Italian when really hot and Irish when not so hot and I have learned few things.

    Some Guideline that worked for me when buying Suit/Sport Jacket:

    1.Linen Suit (Sport Jacket) Italian cloth alway unlined (it will dry faster and it will be less warm) and if you have good tailor let him make you armpit (sweat) tab, you can change it over years.
    1(A) ...-if really had to be lined than half (buggy) Lined with Breathable Material like viscose.. on heavier cloth made of Irish Linen
    1(B).....and most important thing is- try to get Herringbone wave when choosing Linen as it works better
    1(C)..... make sure it's nipped in waist and roomier in arm pit area

    Next is choosing when and how to wear it.

    2.Linen suits are less formal- so unstructured one is just right
    3.Linen suits are less formal- so if you are not senior or self employed forget it....well until casual dress day :)
    4.Always wear silk Pocket Sq ....contrast of cloth will work better and it is detail that will attract attention from wrinkles
    5.Alway wear cotton one too....this one will be used if you have too
    6.Linen suits sports jackets and shoes without socks is just about right (pay attention to point 2 and 3)
    7.Shoes should be light with thin soles most formal shoe ever to be worn will be English style loafer think...... Loake Eton type
    8. Italian cloth Jacket goes well with button cuff shirt ..(unbuttoned shirt in summer eve is ok)... with Irish Suit made of heavier cloth - french cuff can and does work well
    never short sleeve shirt no matter how hot
    9. Tie knot and tie itself .....keep it as casual as you can, so four in hand knot will do or avoid it altogether
    9(A) make sure summer Shirt is half size bigger in neck size... as it works better with tie, DB and cravats is hot summer days.... (practical application is simple as there is more room for cotton Pocket Sq work)...

    Caring for items is rather simple:
    1. make sure you garments are dry and ventilated
    2. simple shower steam will do
    3 medium press if you really have too .....like after being soaked by sudden summer rain

    Hope this helps
     
  17. newtothis

    newtothis New Member

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    Thank-you, MickeyHardFit -- I really appreciate the detailed tips!
     
  18. MickeyHardFit

    MickeyHardFit Member

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    .....seems that there is now two schools of approach to Linen:

    1. Old school like myself who do think that whilst driving convertible car wind might mess with your hair and in sudden downpour of rain you still need to stop or slow down in order to put roof back up and absolute truth is that some rain will be retained by car

    ATTENZIONE ;If you drive convertible there is strong chance that some Bird might make you feel lucky or inside of your car become richer
    But that comes with driving convertible as simple as that

    2.This School of tucked-starched- crisp-cardboard-flat Linen suit where comparison is something like, well to my mind:
    Buying a Chauffeur driven car and instead of being driven on the back seat and reading broadsheet you drive it yourself whilst listening to Sat -Nav
    Seriously nip and tuck culture on linen cloth ???
     

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