Don’t Let Your Commute Ruin Your Suit

In partnership with British label Charles Tyrwhitt, we are thinking through some real-world issues faced by men and the clothing they wear.

In 2016, the UK Office for National Statistics determined that 3.7 million workers traveled for two hours or more every weekday as part of their commute. This might involve walking, driving, cycling, taking public transport, or any combination of those modes of transportation. On top of this, many men – particularly in city environments – choose to wear a formal suit to the office to look smart; not particularly ideal attire for such a long travel time!

Read on as we look at some smart solutions to avoid everyday commuter damage to your tailoring.

A suit made for the commute

While we often espouse the virtues of bespoke or Made To Measure tailoring, the reality is that many of us shop off the peg and are looking for a great suit or two that fits well, is comfortable, and looks sharp. Luckily, many good makers are adding modern touches for their real world comfort-seeking customers. Look for the signs that a suit is suitable for your commute – comfort, fabric recovery and quality, and fit.

Added elastane will increase the flexibility of the suit’s fabric and allow it to ‘bounce’ back to its shape after repeated wear and folding. Modern fabric technology means that if we didn’t just tell you it’s in there, you would have never noticed anything different apart from the fact that the suit remained looking pretty great.

A waistband with some elastic built in will give you comfort during your commute, and the rest of your day, by helping your trouser waist fit closely, but not uncomfortably so. Your suit trousers will look just fine, but they will feel much more comfortable sitting, standing and on the move.

Choosing a lightweight, three-season wool will keep you feeling more comfortable and cool when you’re rushing to and from work. For the most part, you’re wearing your suit indoors and in climate controlled settings, so there is no need for a country weight suit. Be smart and think about how you actually wear your clothes; you can always get that double breasted corduroy number later on.

How to protect your suit

Your journey to and from work can cause damage to your threads in a number of ways, depending on how you travel.

…From creasing

If you cycle or walk to the office, it’s likely that you’ll work up quite a sweat. Not only can this be damaging to the material of your shirt and jacket, as the day wears on, you might not smell that great.

Getting caught in the rain can also have negative effects on your suiting as often it doesn’t have a chance to completely dry out before you start your meetings. Consider commuting in workouts or casual clothes and freshening up when you get to work.

A smart workwear investment would be a suit that is crease-resistant; this way you can fold it up in a backpack and your suit will be good to wear when you arrive at the office. Charles Tyrwhitt offers a range of ‘performance suits’ made with merino wool, which has natural crease recovery qualities. Their suits also have 2% added elastane which results in a crease-resistant cloth.

…From the weather

Harsh weather conditions can also be harmful to your wardrobe. One of the easiest ways to keep your suit in good shape is to invest in a well made overcoat or lined mac. Longer-length coats are still a bit out of vogue, but they will keep you warmer, drier, and cleaner if you’re out on the street. Knee-length coats are often more comfortable when commuting by public transport.

During the winter, road salt can be damaging to your shoes and the slush and snow can have long lasting effects if they aren’t treated or dried out properly.

There are some simple preventative measures that you can take. Keep your shoes polished and treated with conditioners to protect the leather. For suede shoes, invest in some spray-on suede protector – but test a spot before you proceed and make sure thee is no discoloration. Better yet, get a sturdy pair of rubber shoe covers like your granddad had – your shoes, and billfold, will thank you.

…From dirt

Over time, you will likely find that spending time on public transport, out on the street, in airplanes or meeting rooms will result in dirt and dust dulling your suit’s fabric. We are not referring to stains or spills, which require immediate and professional attention, but to the daily atmospheric impact of life on your clothing.

Treat your wardrobe with love and respect and it will serve you well. In this case, it means brushing down your suit jacket after every wearing to loosen debris and dust and prevent it from becoming embedded in the fabric. Brushing – using a proper suit brush – will also keep your suit’s fabric springy and soft.

While it is very important to find a good cleaner, the general rule of thumb is to avoid dry cleaning your suit too frequently. Bring in your suit for spot cleaning stains that are hard to remove or occasional pressing. If you are a habitual suit or jacket wearer, investing in your own steamer isn’t a bad idea either.

Note: We are actual fans of Charles Tyrwhitt and buy and wear their clothing. OTC received no compensation for this partnered article.