I can’t say this stuff is glamorous, but it matters:
--You obviously want to tie a necktie with clean hands, so as to keep the knot area from becoming soiled. But when wearing a light-colored tie, make sure to wash and dry your hands just before donning your tie.
--If, like me, you wear woven ties almost exclusively, cut your fingernails only at night. This allows the nails to grow and even-out a bit before morning. Freshly cut nails have tiny shards that will snag your necktie. Considering that Neapolitan, English, and Milanese neckwear will never drop south of a hundred bucks again, this can be irritating in the extreme.
--When removing your dress shirt, dampen the collar and cuffs with a little water. Why allow the dirt to settle in, while the shirt waits to be cleaned? I have a seven year-old shirt that I’ve kept perfectly white this way.
--An extra-dry neck also adds years to a solid white shirt: before dressing, swab your neck with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball, to remove any oils the shower may have missed. It may seem like overkill, but in the summertime it can save your shirts. This little trick will visibly cut down your ring-around-the-collar, almost by half.
--Most of us shine our shoes with wax, but at least once a quarter you should give every pair you own a good going-over with shoe cream, to replace lost moisture. If you live in Italy, where the unpolished, cracked-shoe look is currently all the rage, I suppose you can disregard this.
--This one is more a question of aesthetics than maintenance: I recall a conversation I once had with one of the shoemakers at Edward Green; he was telling me that Londoners prefer more of a low-key shine than that preferred by most Americans (God-forbid a Londoner should do anything that looks American). I have found, however, that shoes actually need to be slightly ‘over-shined’ (an American shine). When you leave your house, you walk into an atmosphere as full of particles as the ocean is full of plankton, and this stuff slowly settles into a film on your shoes as the day wears on. An ‘American-style’ shine helps fight this a bit.
--This one’s so obvious I started not to include it, but shoes MUST have trees in them at all times. So what made me include it? Because I’m haunted by a guy I know who wears John Lobbs, but won’t use his trees (which, by the way, come gratis with every pair). The way his toes are curled up, he looks like a cookie-making Keebler elf, living in a tree somewhere. Or, at best, one of Robin Hood’s merry men.
There is a danger facing the young man who is breaking the bank to get his first pair of bench-made shoes: unless he is buying custom, or a ready-made pair that comes with trees, he may not want to kick the extra forty or fifty bucks to buy them. This is the false economy of all false economies. Used shoe trees can be found at vintage, discount, and second-hand stores for a few bucks, and the older and more beat-up they are, the better they look. My advice is to always be on the prowl for them, especially before you buy your first pair of expensive shoes.
--There is another danger facing the young man I just mentioned (and everyone else). Even diligent use of trees will not help your shoes if they aren’t properly rotated (given at least a twenty-four hour rest after wear). Good shoes are prized pets that must be pampered and taken care of, and even the best-made shoe in the world cannot stand up to day-to-day, back-to-back wear.
--Once or twice a year (depending on frequency of wear), turn out your trouser cuffs and brush them clean. No one will notice if you don’t, but the stuff that collects down there can be quite nasty.
--Speaking of cuffs, you’ll want to have the inside corner of your dress shoe heels shaved off, so as not to catch in your trouser cuffs. Some men consider this shoe sacrilege, I know, but I have found it not nearly so sacrilegious (or as anger-inducing) as a torn trouser cuff.
--Keep your dress hats in a closed box, away from atmospheric dust. Follow this simple precaution, and you may never have to have your hats cleaned.
--Fine-quality, sized dress socks—after more than a quarter century, I still don’t know what to tell you (And this from a major collector of the things, with close to seventy pairs that have yet to be worn). If I wash them carefully in cold water and Woolite, air dry them, the whole nine—they fall apart. If, however, I act like I don’t care—wear them hiking, doing yard work, toss them in with the regular wash & dry—they last forever. Go figure. Then come back and tell me.