Ask The Tailor: Buying a Belt, Cleaning Sneakers, and Moving a Piano

Ask The Tailor

This month you’ll learn something about sneakers, tying shoes, buying a belt, moving a piano, and what not to do to a hedgehog. You’re welcome.

I like to wear tennis shoes to work on casual days but I can’t seem to keep them clean, is there a solution?
-- Dave in Maryland

Yes sir, there is. First, fill a large container or bucket with soapy water. Get an old used toothbrush and dip it into the soapy water. Wash the sneakers thoroughly with the toothbrush. Use a rag to wipe the shoes clean where needed. Wipe the shoes dry with a towel and let them dry in the sun. For the laces, remove them and wash in the dishwasher or washing machine (take care of laces that will not hold up well to the rigors of a washing machine). Wash the laces as many times as needed to get them white. Then go forth and sneak. More information like this is available in The Tailored Man’s “Guide to Being a Man”.

I’ve heard several theories for buying the correct sized belt. What’s your method?
-- Leon in Washington D.C.

Select a belt that’s 2 to 3 sizes larger than your waist size. For example, if you’re a rock solid 36 like The Tailor, purchase a size 40 or 42 belt. If you’re an odd size (say 35), go up one number and add 2-3 sizes. Did you know that most men’s belts are measured to the third hole? That’s true, so make sure to get the correct size otherwise you’ll have a lot of leather flapping around your waist if it’s too long or not enough for ample expansion. (By expansion I mean what Mrs. Tailor likes to call “getting plump”)

I’m a man on the go, I don’t like wasting time. Is there a way to tie my shoes quickly?
-- Fast Freddie in Arlington, VA

Where are you going so quickly, young man? Where’s the fire? Patience is a virtue, you know. Luckily, if you want to get your shoes on quickly and tie them properly, there is an ingenious method that The Tailor has been using for decades. I learned it from my Uncle Sebastian, a jolly man who filled our house with laughter every time he visited us. He once brought us a pet hedgehog that my sister named “Oatmeal”. Here’s a video on how to tie your laces fast.

By the way, in regards to “Oatmeal”, we learned something important about hedgehogs: they don’t like to be hugged.

How do you move a piano?
-- Michael P. in Germantown, MD

Your question reminds me of what the man said when someone asked him how to give a gorilla a bath: “Verrrry carefully.” There are many factors involved in moving a piano: what type of piano it is, how many stairs you need to bring it up, whether it’s going into a home and how large the doors or windows are, and the distance you’ll be moving it. My first bit of advice is this: don’t try to do this yourself. Hire a professional. My dear friend Ephraim Browne learned the hard way not to try such endeavors several years back. “Effy” didn’t break his neck while trying to move his baby grand piano, but he did lose a pinky toe, which isn’t fun. That’s the one that is supposed to go “wee wee wee all the way home.” When contacting a professional piano mover, have the dimensions of your piano, the distance it’s going to be moved, the size and measurement of the doors and/or windows, and the type of piano on hand. An upright is not a grand and a grand is not a spinet. In your area I’d recommend Flat Rate Movers, they’re experienced, insured, and they can get the job done. Oh, and have that piano tuned after the move, your ears will appreciate it.