How to Store Nice Suits and Dresses

Jon Fesmire |

Storing, and protecting, your fanciest clothes needn’t be a mysterious process. For both suits and dresses, here are simple steps you can take to ensure their safety and longevity.

The instructions below will work perfectly for storing your suits and dresses in a closet at home or in a storage unit, but you’ll probably want to take a few extra steps when using self storage.

In Storage

When storing suits and dresses in a self storage unit, you’ll need to purchase some sort of apparatus to hang them on. We recommend a rolling garment rack. Finally, get a unit with climate control. This is important in most of the U.S., unless you’re lucky enough to live in a temperate area that rarely gets hot and humid or cold and dry.

Storing a Suit

Good suits are expensive, and most of us have just one, worn to work interviews and for special occasions. It makes sense to want to keep your suit clean, crisp, and ready to wear when you need it.

Rather than use a wire or plastic coat hanger, purchase a quality wooden suit hanger. You may find their shape odd, as they have a curve to them around the shoulders, but this is to mimic the shape of the body. A wooden suit hanger will help your jacket hold its proper shape. A cedar wood hanger is best, as cedar masks the smell of wool and therefore keeps moths away. It also absorbs moisture and odor from your suit. It’s also good to have a suit bag, which will keep dust off your suit. However, avoid the plastic variety. Plastic traps in moisture, and that can lead to mold growing on your suit. It’s important to allow the fabric to breathe, so get a canvas suit bag. Suits look best sharp. In other words, you will want to keep the wrinkles out of them as much as possible. Suit pants are especially susceptible to wrinkles. Your wooden suit hanger should have a bar across the bottom, where you can hang your pants. An easy way to do this is to hold your pants upside-down, by the seams at the bottom of the legs. Make sure each leg is straight and matches the other, folded at the creases. Slide the hanger up from the pants and make sure they hang neatly, without wrinkles. Next, add the suit jacket to the hanger, then the bag. Of course, you want to keep your suit clean, but don’t get it dry-cleaned too often. The combination of letting the suit breathe and using a cedar hanger will keep it free of odor for many wearings, and getting it dry-cleaned frequently will more quickly lower its quality.

Storing Dresses

Just like with suits, avoid wire or plastic hangers. Wire hangers, especially, can affect the shape of the shoulders on clothing. For dresses made of thick materials like wool, use wooden hangers, preferably made of cedar. Lighter dresses, made of silk, velvet, and the like, require padded hangers.

Unlike suits, dresses sometimes have special straps inside specifically for hanging. These are often called hanger helpers. If your dress has these, you’ll need a notched hanger, but the dress should hang very well. Dresses without them, including strapless dresses, will need a hanger with clamps. Make sure the clamps are padded, so they won’t harm or add divots and wrinkles to the material. Canvas garment bags are also a good idea for expensive dresses, as they’ll help keep off dust and debris, and allow the material to breathe.

Following the above steps will help you keep your nicest clothes in great shape and ready to wear for years to come.