Over the years, I have become a sort of an expert on suede jackets. I used to have about 8 different ones before I donated most of them (I know, I know, I have a problem).
And one of the questions that my friends often have for me when buying their first suede jacket is whether it is going to stretch over time or shrink over time.
The answer isn’t really that complicated. It’s just that you would need to keep a few things in your mind.
So, does a suede jacket stretch or shrink?
A suede jacket stretches by 2-3 inches on average over the course of time. The stretch of a jacket is dependent on what kind of animal it has been made from. The bigger the animal, the lesser the stretch is going to be.
Suede jackets do not shrink at all unless they are subjected to exposure to water for large periods of time.
A suede jacket will naturally stretch itself if you wear it often enough. But the stretch of the jacket should not be that big of a deal for you.
Most of the time, this stretch is barely noticeable, and will actually make your jacket look and feel better. Therefore, if you are in-between sizes, I would recommend you to size down instead of sizing up, given all other things are equal.
How to break in a suede jacket?
The simplest way to break in a suede jacket is to constantly wear it as much as possible.
Some people on the internet overcomplicate breaking in a suede jacket. They tell you various things that range from washing your suede jacket a couple of times to using your jacket as a punching bag.
Literally, I have seen people recommend punching a jacket in order to break it in.
The fact of the matter is that suede is a fabric that does not need a lot of breaking in. It might be made from animal hide, and it is technically leather, but it does not have all the stiffness of a leather jacket.
Unlike leather, suede jackets are not that difficult or uncomfortable to wear. Just wear your garment as often as possible, and the suede will automatically mold itself to your body over the course of time.
How much does a suede jacket stretch over time?
On average, a suede jacket tends to stretch about 2-3 inches over time. Jackets that are made from thicker animal hides such as buffalo leather tend to stretch lesser than jackets made from lambskin and goat leather.
A good rule of thumb for you is that the bigger the animal, the less the jacket is going to stretch. Therefore, a jacket made from sheep leather is going to stretch more than a jacket that is made from cow leather.
But keep in mind we are talking about stretch here, not the actual ability of “breaking in”. The breaking in of a suede jacket means that the jacket has started to mold itself according to your body.
All suede jackets break-in. The only difference is that jackets made from bigger animals (buffalos, cows) take much more time in breaking in than softer and finer leathers like lambskin and goat.
Do suede jackets shrink over time?
Suede jackets do not shrink over time. The leather actually stretches a bit depending upon the animal hide that it is made from.
If you think that buying a slightly larger jacket and waiting for it to shrink is a good idea, I plead you to think again.
There are a few ways to shrink a suede jacket. Most are incredibly messy and should not be tried by laypersons, but I have had some minor successes using the method I talk about below.
How to shrink a suede jacket?
NOTE: Every suede jacket is different. What worked on mine might actually destroy yours in an irreversible manner. Only go ahead with this strategy if you have no other option.
Use water. Now, I know what you must be thinking; water and suede are not materials that gel particularly well with each other. But using water strategically for the purpose of shrinking is actually a good idea.
What I want you to do is basically this.
Take your suede jacket. Clean it as thoroughly as you can with a suede brush and a suede eraser. Next, soak it in ice-cold water. Let it sit there for an hour. After you take the suede jacket out, let it dry inside your house. Don’t put it under direct sunlight. Once the drying is done, steam it or iron it to get rid of wrinkles.
Water discoloration is a big issue when it happens in only a single spot. But if your whole jacket becomes lighter or darker by a shade, then it is slightly less noticeable.
I know this method is not perfect and has its flaws, therefore you should only go ahead with this if you have no other option.
Hopefully, your suede jacket would have shrunk a bit after all this work.
Can suede jackets shrink in the dryer?
I have talked about drying suede in detail in this guide over here, but I will give you a short answer here.
Suede jackets do not shrink in a dryer. However, drying suede can often lead to minor tears here and there if your dryer is a bit rough. Drying a suede jacket in a tumble dryer does not shrink it though.
I would recommend you to use other alternative methods of drying suede, as they have a better chance of keeping your suede jacket in pristine condition.
But if you think that your dryer is equipped enough to handle suede, you can definitely throw your jacket in that bad boy.
Dealing with suede is often a hassle. There are so many questions that need to be answered, and nobody on the internet is actually making thoughtful content for suede aficionados.
Sure, leather blogs are a dime a dozen, but when it comes to suede – Zero. Zilch. Nada!
Therefore, I decided to make a few articles covering suede in-depth in order to help you in making this amazing fabric a part of your wardrobe.
If you liked this article, you might also like the other ones I have done in the suede series:
- How Should A Suede Jacket Fit? A Helpful Guide.
- Can Suede Jackets Be Put In The Dryer? Experiment
- How long do suede jackets last? And how to make them last longer.
- Can suede jackets be tailored?
My name is Alex Higson and I am the founder of Magic Of Clothes. I have worked in the fashion industry for many years, and clothes and style are a huge part of my life.