What is gabardine and how do you clean it?
Gabardine is a resilient, tightly woven fabric. It is smooth but not shiny. Though traditionally made of wool, it is easy nowadays to find gabardine in polyester or polyester blends.
Commonly, gabardine fabric is used in suits and slacks. Because of its strength and resistance to wrinkling, gabardine is touted as an easy-care fabric. Additionally, wool gabardine can be very lightweight. A wool gabardine suit can be comfortable throughout the year.
Polyester is a synthetic fabric. It is not particularly breathable and a pair of polyester gabardine pants may not be as comfortable as a pair of wool gabardine pants in certain weather. However, polyester gabardine is easier to care for than wool.
When it comes to fabric care, clothing manufacturers err on the cautious side. Nearly any wool gabardine garment will come with a “Dry Clean Only” warning on its tag, but dry cleaning can be very expensive. If you are on a budget and want to keep your wool gabardine clean, hand washing with a product like Woolite or another wool-friendly detergent is an alternative.
Even machine washing is a possibility. If you are going to machine wash your wool gabardine, make certain to use the “gentle” or “delicate” cycle. Many washing machines specify which cycle should be used for wool. A garment bag adds extra protection. So does turning the garment inside out. Again, be sure to use a wool-friendly detergent.
Wool takes a long time to dry. Never, ever put wool gabardine in the dryer! Doing so will destroy it.
If your wool gabardine garment gets a stain, it’s generally worth paying the extra money for a dry cleaning.
Polyester gabardine, however, does not need to be handled with such kid gloves. Polyester can be machine-washed. Use a cold or even a warm water cycle, but make sure your polyester gabardine gets a cold-water rinse. Polyester can be put in the drier. However, if the garment is a poly blend or contains stretch fabric, it may be better to line-dry. Polyester is generally a fast drying fabric.
As with wool, some manufacturers may urge you to dry clean your polyester gabardine. If you do not have the money to dry clean your polyester but are wary of the washing machine, hand washing is always an option.
If you are looking for a suit or pants made out of wool gabardine, be prepared to spend a decent amount of money. It is rare to find wool gabardine pants for fewer than fifty dollars, but savvy shoppers may be able to uncover bargains. Internet shopping sites that compare prices may help you find the best deal. Stores like J. Crew and Talbot’s offer wool gabardine at reasonable prices.
For those on a budget, polyester gabardine is an economical alternative to wool. A pair of polyester pants can cost as little as twenty dollars. Austin Reed sells polyester gabardine at low prices. Polyester may be less expensive and easier to take care of, but it is not as durable as wool.