Business Week Magazine

In an article called Out, Damned Spot in BusinessWeek’s fashion section, The Clothing Doctor offered this advice for keeping your business clothes in tip-top shape.

What should you think about when you buy clothing?
Think about how you will wear, care for, clean, and store the garment for its entire life. Although brand names are often synonymous with quality, they should not be the deciding factor; fit, fabric, and style should be.

How do you know which fabrics will wear best?
Silk and linen blends are very high-maintenance. Gabardine tends to shine on the seat, thighs, and elbows from sliding in and out of the car or your desk and from poor pressing. People who are hard on their clothes should buy softer fabrics. A good worsted wool has nap or texture, is less subject to shine, and will wear longer than gabardine. Buy fabrics that breathe. If you travel often, buy clothing that resists wrinkling – textures soft wools and rayon blends.

What about triacetate? It shows up a lot in women’s suits.
Acetate is very popular, but it shines prematurely. If you buy an acetate that is subject to wear, you can ask your cleaner to soft-press and brush the areas likely to get shiny.

What about stain emergencies?
Never rub a stain. All stains can be blotted with a dry, white napkin. For an oily stain, avoid putting water or club soda on it, and have it dry cleaned within 48 hours. If you know that the stain is water-based and that the garment is washable. O.K., go ahead and blot it, and wash it when you get home.

What are the worst stains to deal with?
Lipstick and ink are two of the most stubborn – also coffee and wine. They all require expert professional help. Always put on your hairspray. perfume, or deodorant before you dress, and let it dry completely. All three contribute to permanent staining.

How do you find a good dry cleaner?
Call the ritziest clothing store in town and ask where the manager sends things. If you are spill-prone, you need a cleaner with a good stain technician. Do you wear fine wools, acetate, or silks? Better clothing requires soft-pressing and hand ironing. Go for quality, service, convenience, and price – in that order.