Good dry cleaners keep ties tip top

Good dry cleaners keep ties tip top

Q. I was talking with the only other doctor in my practice who cares as much about clothing as I do. He said he found his best tie had a stain, so he was throwing it out. I could not concur with such a radical cure to what is, in my experience, often only a minor illness. My training, is that one should always try to cure a patient before considering euthanasia. I have found that a quality dry cleaner can remove most spots from ties without damaging them. Alas, in conformance with Murphy’s Laws, they invariably fail when working on my very favorite ties. Do you agree that ties can be “saved,” and do you have any miracle cures?

A. I would never give up as easily as your colleague, and your thinking is certainly valid. Many quality dry cleaners can address most stains; the important word in your discussion is “quality.” Not all professional cleaners are equally skilled; be sure that the one you are patronizing has more in his favor than merely being close by and convenient.

Before giving a dry cleaner one of your good ties, test his skills on one of your less favorite ties. If he does a good job, then give him the good tie. Incidentally, good results are also highly dependent on your telling the cleaner, if possible, what you spilled on the tie. Some stains are more resistant to being removed than others. To avoid forgetting what was spilled on the tie, take it to the cleaner as soon as possible.

Another reason to clean the tie quickly is that the older the stain, the harder it is to remove. Dry cleaners prefer to work on fresh stains which have not had time to “set” or react with the fabric. Among the most difficult stains to remove if not treated quickly are those caused by soda or cola beverage, which if left untreated turns brown because the sugar syrup caramelizes (oxidizes) with time or heat.

A tie’s fabric also affects how well it will take to cleaning; silk ties are more difficult to clean than cotton, linen, or wool. You will notice that I have made no mention of synthetic neckties, because I strongly believe there is no reason to wear one. A tie’s purpose is to add style and distinction to a man’s appearance, and my personal prejudice is that a polyester ties does neither.

If your local/neighborhood cleaner does a good job, you are in luck, not everyone can find a great cleaner. Unfortunately, while many dry cleaners can remove the stain successfully, when they press the tie, they often leave an impression from the tie’s lining that shows through and spoils the tie.

For those needing a solution, I do have, if not a miracle cure, a helpful suggestion that I’ve been recommending for years. Tiecrafters Inc. (212-629-5800), a very professional company in New York City, has been in business for decades, cleaning ties and even narrowing them when fashions change. They open up the tie to clean and press it, thus avoiding any creases. They charge $19/tie for 1 to 3 ties, and $16/tie for 4 or more ties. This is not an unreasonable expense in many cases. Another plus: they send you a UPS envelope with a prepaid label for your next order.

Back in the days, not so long ago, when most neckties cost $30 to $50, a man could discard any that got soiled or spotted. But, even then, if a man stained a favorite tie, he would do whatever he could to restore it. These days, while fewer and fewer men are wearing ties, there still are plenty of men who recognize how much a distinctive tie can add to their appearance.

Unfortunately, necktie prices have soared. It’s not that every tie  is expensive, but those from Brooks Brothers average $89, from Paul Stuart $165, Ralph Lauren $250, and designer ties often escalate to even more. Since no one wants to discard any tie, let alone a favorite, the investment makes a lot of sense.

I recently discussed the return to popularity of various types of tie restraints, including metal tie clasps. Besides the style’s decorative advantage, their big plus is that they help to keep a tie in place and out of harm’s way. If your tie stays close to your shirt, it is much less likely to end up with splashes that will spoil it.

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