Previously we’ve shared that shirts will wear out, regardless how good quality they were when purchased. It doesn’t matter whether they’re ready-to-wear, made-to-measure, or even bespoke shirts. Garments that come in direct contact with your skin, or at points of mechanical stress suffer the most. So for today’s episode, we’ll explore what we can do to prolong their useful lives in our wardrobes.
All Garments Have Finite Lifespan
Like it or not, all the garments in our wardrobe have finite lifespan. The more often you wear and launder a particular piece, the faster it’ll reach the end of its lifespan. This is especially true if that garment comes in direct contact with your body, or has a well-defined stress point. Aside from undergarments, shirts suffer the most wear and tear. The elbows of your jacket sleeves and knees of your trousers also suffer mechanical stress too. But heavier weight suitings used for jackets and trousers can withstand abrasion much better than delicate cotton shirtings.
You probably won’t feel the pinch if it’s a cheap shirt that you picked up from the bargain bin. But it’s a bummer if you’ve paid a fortune for a bespoke shirt made from high quality Sea Island Cotton. Hence, it only makes sense to want to wear your favourite shirts for as long as possible. Well, we can’t magically turn the clock back, nor can we offer any ways to stop the wear and tear. So here’s what you can do once that inevitable time has arrived :-
(1) Donate Worn-Out Shirts Before They Get Visible
Can’t bear the sight of your favourite shirts wearing out right before your eyes? Then consider giving them away for a good cause. Donating your shirts before the wear and tear gets visible also helps to clear your wardrobe for new purchases. Besides, doing charity helps make you feel good too.
(2) Downgrade To Dirty Or Manual Labour Use
Whilst worn-out shirts won’t look good at the office, they don’t really matter much when doing manual labour. Think of the times when you’re gardening, painting the house, changing the oil in your car, or moving furniture. That’s the best time to bring out your worn-out shirts, and still get to wear them. So what if they get dirty, or even tears. It’s not like you’re wearing ties around the collar anymore, right?
(3) Downgrade Further To Floor Rags
It’ll come a time when the downgraded shirt no longer looks anything like a “shirt” anymore. Perhaps the sleeve has torn right off the arm-hole, or a huge tear right through the middle of it. You simply can’t wear it as a shirt anymore. That’s the time to downgrade it even further down, as a floor rag. Well, at least it’s still serving a purpose to you…
What If You Want To Stretch Its Useful Life?
Looking back at the previous episode, the wear and tear doesn’t occur across the whole shirt evenly. In fact, more often than not, it’ll happen at the collars and the sleeve cuffs. And that means the rest of the shirt remains much pretty intact. So, does that mean that you can still save your favourite shirts from early retirement?… Well, you actually can squeeze a little more lifespan out of an otherwise worn-out shirt… Within reasons, of course.
(1) Solid White Shirts
For solid white shirts, it’s easy to simply get a tailor to replace the collars and cuffs. All you need are fresh solid white shirtings, which are very common in the first place. Unless you look closely, you can barely notice that the old white shirt comes with new collar and cuffs. It’s literally breathing a new life to an otherwise worn-out shirt.
(2) Patterned Or Coloured Shirts
With patterned or coloured shirts, things start to get a little complicated. Some bespoke or made-to-order shirts have some extra fabric tucked away at the seams somewhere. With enough spare fabric, a good tailor can “wrap” the collar and/or cuffs with it, giving it a “new” look. It’s literally a skin-grafting procedure on your shirt. But if you have a ready-to-wear shirt, tough luck. There are no spare fabric in factory-made shirts.
(3) Convert To Contrast Collar Shirts
How about wearing a “Franken-shirt”?… And what’s that I hear you ask?… Well, a “Franken-shirt” is a coined-up term. It’s a mix-and-match shirt, sewn together with different shirtings. However, if done with good taste, you can still end up with a similarly professional looking shirt. The contrasting white collar (and cuffs) shirt is one such example.
So if you have a patterned or coloured shirt with worn-out collar and cuffs, well, you’re in luck. You can convert it to a contrast collar shirt. It’ll give you a few more years’ worth of wear, and you’ll still look just as good wearing it.
Get To Know Your Tailor Well
A gentleman should maintain a good relationship with some of his basic service providers. A barber, a physician, a bartender, and yes, even a tailor too. He should preferably be on a first name basis with them. And they, in turn, should know his requirements and taste, even without asking him about it. Henceforth, a gentleman should always have a good relationship with his tailor.
A good tailor can do wonders, even when you think there’s no way to save a garment. And one such instance is to prolong the lifespan of your favourite shirts, by swapping the collars and cuffs.
My Personal Tailor
It’s with great pleasure that I introduce my personal tailor, Sky Ng, of Gents Props. Just as much as you wouldn’t patronise a shaggy looking barber, neither would you patronise a poorly dressed tailor too. A tailor who dresses himself/herself well automatically projects that he/she can dress you well also. Besides, you can see the quality of his craftsmanship just by looking at his self-tailored attire. Suits, blazers, sport jackets, shirts, trousers, everything on him simply looks impeccable.
Gents Props is a by-appointment-only tailor, operating out of Malacca. So don’t drop in unannounced. Always call in advance to make an appointment. Who knows, he might even decide to meet you at your home or office. You can call him at +6012 280 0182 for any enquiries. And even if you’re from outside of Malaysia, don’t worry about it. But you might want to have a chat with him first, before making an appointment.
In the meantime, do share your relationship with your tailor in the poll below. And if you have any comments, do leave them down below too.