If you are buying really good suits, you want to treat them well, and using wood suit hangers, as opposed to plastic, is one of the best things you can do to maintain the quality of an expensive suit.
Why Use Wood Suit Hangers?
Many people still joke about Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford screaming "No wire hangers!" in Mommie Dearest, but she was actually right. Wire hangers can stain and damage even the cheapest clothes and should be avoided at all costs. A suit is an investment, so it stands to reason that you make an investment in its care. Wood hangers are pricier than other good hangers, such as the padded kind, but for something tailored like a suit, they are what you want. A good dress shirt can hang on a padded hanger, preferably made of canvas, but wood suit hangers help a suit jacket retain its shape. A proper wood suit hanger will have a bar for the trousers. The best bar you can get is one that has rubber "teeth" embedded along the top. This will hold the trousers in place but not create a crease, as might happen with a clamp.
Concerns About Wood Hangers
Besides the cost, one major concern about wood hangers is their environmental effect. Many people prefer to use a canvas hanger because canvas is a sustainable, low-impact material. Increasingly, bamboo hangers are becoming available, and these, while currently more expensive, are as suit-friendly as wood, besides being environmentally friendly.
The other option is to look for vintage hangers. These can be found in better vintage shops, on eBay and at antique fairs. You can also find them at estate sales, since they used to be far more common. Buying secondhand hangers is a good way to reduce and reuse.
Choosing Wood Hangers
The best hangers are those that are thick and curved. This may sound like a problem if you have a tiny closet, but in fact, the hanger does not take up any more space than the suit. The nature of the tailoring is what needs space. Curves maintain the shape and offer good support.
Many people elect to use cedar hangers, especially if they have a moth or other pest problem. These work as well, but do make sure the hanger in question is sturdy enough for a heavy suit. You might be better off getting a strip of cedar to hang in the closet.
You can buy good wood suit hangers anywhere from clothing shops to organizing shops like the Container Store or Bed, Bath and Beyond. If you're not sure of the shape or quality of hanger or the best way to hang trousers, you should consult with the salespeople at the clothing store where you buy your suits. In fact, most better clothing shops will include a wood hanger as part of your purchase. If not, they will certainly have them for sale.
Bamboo hangers can be found on numerous online sources and even at such shops as Target. Shop carefully to make sure the hanger is curved enough to offer your suit adequate support.
Maintaining Your Hangers
If you use cedar hangers, you will want to give them a light sanding now and again to help sustain the aroma. Use a quality sandpaper and test the hanger thoroughly to make sure there are no splinters before you re-hang your suit. Most modern wood suit hangers have a finish so that they will not need any further maintenance, but you might prefer an unfinished hanger so as not to risk any chemical interference with a particular fabric, especially if your suit is custom tailored. Unfinished wood can splinter over time, so check it regularly and give it a light sanding now and then. It may seem like a lot of trouble, but it's worth it to keep your best clothes in their best condition.