BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter, Jan 17, 2011 2:32AM
Article from Chicago Sun-Times

Off and on, for a stretch of about 15 years, Lewis Magers was told what clothes to wear — usually in a “really nasty” shade of brown or pale blue, and if they didn’t fit so good, well, too bad.

It’s been three years since Magers’ last jail stint, and on Saturday, Magers, 37, slipped into another uniform — also a shade of brown, but this one came with a burnt-orange tie and a tailor wielding a measuring tape and a piece of chalk.

Bruce Wilson, 24, of Chicago, (center) gets help from Brooks Brothers tailor Alex Jasiak (left) and General Manager Barbara Mitchell. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Magers was one of 41 men and women — some of whom had never worn a suit and couldn’t tell you their shirt sizes — to get outfitted, for free, as part of “Suited for Success,” an event sponsored by the Illinois Education Foundation. The nonprofit has awarded more than $3.5 million in scholarships to some 250 low-income community college students since 2006.

“If I saved my money, I might be able to go to the Salvation Army and piece something together, but a custom suit? No,” said Magers, modeling a “gently used” taupe suit at the swanky Standard Club in the Loop.

Brooks Brothers, Allen Edmonds, the 900 Shops at North Michigan, Morgan Stanley, Davis Imperial Cleaners, and Julie Watson Style were among the companies donating time and services for the event Saturday.

Chris Gardner (center), inspiration for “The Pursuit of Happyness” and CEO of Gardner Rich LLC, is greeted by Rick and Lynda Wood, owners of Davis Imperial Cleaners. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Magers, after losing much of his earlier years to drug addiction and dealing, is now focused on becoming a certified alcohol and drug counselor, after he finishes up his coursework at Harold Washington College.

Another community college student, 18-year-old William Mendez, who spent a stretch as a homeless teen, said he could easily get used to the “pampered” life he experienced Saturday.

“Now I feel like I can look forward to having” a future, said Mendez, who lives in the Little Village neighborhood and is studying business at Harold Washington. “Before, I just chose not to look ahead.”

Chris Gardner, whose rags-to-riches story inspired the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness, was on hand to remind the students — not to contradict the day’s theme — but to point out that a sharp mind is more important than a sharp suit in becoming successful.

He also joked about his early days in the business world when he had to make do with only two suits for an entire year.

“One blue and one gray,” he said. “The joke around the office started: ‘Oh, that’s Chris. He’s re-enacting the Civil War. Some days he’s with the North, some days he’s with the South.’ It’s funny now. That s— wasn’t funny at the time.”


Ian P. Murphy, Editor, American Drycleaner
Article from AmericanDryCleaner.com

CHICAGO — Affiliates of Leading Cleaners Internationale (LCI), a consortium of high-end operators, came together recently in Chicago for an in-depth educational meeting.

This fall program brought LCI affiliates to the Windy City from throughout North America for ongoing development of ownership skills. LCI executive coordinator Barry Gershenson welcomed members and guests to the two-and-a-half-day meeting.

Highlights included affiliate presentations and special sessions, including a conversation about expanding in a tough economy with Jack Mitchell, the author of the management books Hug Your Customer and Hug Your Employees. Additional presentations included Media Marketing with Kristyn Wilson, Media Source, Columbus, Ohio.

LCI affiliates visit the Chicago History Museum to learn about museum-quality garment preservation with textile conservator Timothy Long. (Photo: Courtesy LCI)

LCI affiliates also took a field trip to the Chicago History Museum for a tour of period clothing led by head museum conservator Timothy Long. “I was truly impressed by our tour, and never really knew what really went into museum conservation and preservation,” says Margaret Butler, operator of Dublin Cleaners, Columbus, Ohio.

The meeting also featured a visit to Davis Imperial Cleaners, operated by founding LCI members Lynda and Rick Wood and their son Jordan. The Woods showed off their innovative client-viewing area for wedding-gown inspection.

LCI affiliate Kermit Engh, of Fashion Cleaners, in Omaha, Neb., presented Creating A Company Culture, and Claude Foreman, operator of One Cleaners in New Orleans, La., presented 2010 Strategic Planning.

At the LCI awards banquet, LCI Secret Shopper awards went to Jack Creed, Creeds, Toronto, in the Single Store and Most Improved categories. Dublin Cleaners took LCI’s Multi-Store Secret Shopper Award for operations with three or more locations.


From NS Magazine


It’s reassuring to drop off your couture gown post holiday gala at the dry cleaner knowing it will come back in one piece. Davis Imperial Cleaners, with the tag line, “Perfection is not an accident!” makes sure to take care of any of your accidents too.

As soon as a garment comes in, the team takes photos of the piece and uses it’s full-spectrum light room to inspect each garment’s stains. This initial investigation analyzes any trauma to the pic and ensures custom treatment, including re-beading sequins that may have fallen off during a particularly lively cocktail party.

There’s even an immediate response team with a 24/7 call center for fashion emergencies. –Sarah Perkins

Davis Imperial Cleaners, 3325 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., 773.267.4560, www.davisimperial.com.


Welcome to the another session of reader questions, answered with care and expertise by Lynda, Rick, and Jordan. Today, our reader wants to know if an age-old tip really works:


“I am going to a lot of formal parties and events this season, so I am breaking out some of my favorite dresses. I love the holidays, but it seems as though whenever I wear a great piece to a party I spill on it. What’s the best way to handle this? I have heard of dabbing club soda on the stain, but is there another solution I should be using?”–Karyn {Chicago, IL}


Well-meaning friends generally reach for the club soda bottle and a napkin on the way to the aid of wine- or makeup-stained dresses, but our overwhelming response is absolutely do not use club soda. In fact, the safest answer to your question is do not put anything at all on the stain.

Why? Well, essentially there are two types of stains, those that can be broken down with water (known professionally as water soluble stains) and those that can only be broken down with chemical solutions (known professionally as solvent soluble stains). Lipstick and most make-up stains can only be removed by chemical solutions, so the only result of applying club soda to that type of stain is creating two stains: the original make-up stain and a second problem–the dreaded club soda stain ring.
I guess you are now thinking that since a wine stain would be classified as water soluble, you can successfully utilize the club soda to remove wine. Our answer is NO once again. Even though wine stains can be broken down by water, applying club soda on a wine stain would most likely only serve to spread the original wine stain and once again leave the dreaded club soda ring.

Applying the club soda can also cause another problem. Typically, the group of good Samaritans surrounding the dress wait with baited breath as the “fabricare doctor” guest begins rubbing the fabric in the affected area with a damp cloth, while continuing to pour the club soda on the stain. Unfortunately the doctor unintentionally has more than likely permanently damaged the finish of the fabric and possibly caused color loss.

What to do? Usually by the time stains occur at the party, you’re halfway into the night. Blot (do not rub) your stains with a white cotton napkin, and enjoy every remaining moment of the evening. As soon as you can, take the dress to a trusted professional.

Wishing you and your loved ones good health and happiness always…

Special thanks to Lynda, Rick, and Jordan for stopping by and helping out! And don’t forget to email, tweet, or Facebook us any questions you may have. We’ll pick the best to feature right here.


Writing about weddings has allowed me to live vicariously through the best and worst of brides’ and their guests’ stories. Every girl deserves a perfect day, but no one can plan for everything–there are always details out of the bride and groom’s control. Which is why elements that can be planned and cared for beforehand, like the bride and her party’s dresses, are of the utmost importance.

So where does a gal begin to make her checklist of necessary steps? Wedding planners and friends are great resources because they’ll be able to share what worked for them, and–most importantly–what didn’t. And when it comes to caring for the most beautiful–and chances are, most expensive!–garment of your life, Davis Imperial is one name that tends to pop up repeatedly, since they offer an extensive list of quality services many brides don’t even know are available. Below is a quick snapshot of how they can help make your day as dreamy and stress-free as possible.

1. Fit and Style
–Unless you had your dress custom made for you (lucky lady!), it will need some alterations. Davis Imperial’s wedding gown coordinator works in collaboration with a seamstress to provide –in meticulous detail– whatever minor or major alterations are needed. Whether it is a simple hem or a complete restoration and re-styling of a vintage piece, they’ll care for your dress as though it were a priceless heirloom–which, with the right care, it will be some day.

2. Appearance
–It’s your big day, your girls are gathered around, and suddenly you realize the dresses you picked for them look perfect…except for the fact that they wrinkle easier than tin foil. Davis Imperial not only offers pressing services for the entire party, going so far as to deliver the gowns to the event location, but they also offer on-location experts that can tend to all the dresses in the party whether it’s right before you walk down the aisle, or right before you walk into the reception.

3. Preservation
This is one of the lesser-known (or anticipated) steps for newly-engaged gals, since it happens after the ceremony, but it is one of the most important, and could make or break the chances of a dress surviving the test of time. When it comes to cleaning your dress and ensuring it will look brand new for your daughter or granddaughter someday, Davis Imperial’s trademarked MuseumCare™ Preservation is second to none. And they’re recommended by the Chicago History Museum–an entire brand whose identity relies on ensuring dated items retain their quality.

Their Clean Room Preservation Laboratory and Museum Inspection Area–located on site–allows their technicians to carefully inspect every inch of a garment, identifying areas soiled by stains detrimental to fabric if ignored. Stains such as white wine and champagne that dry clear and are invisible to the naked eye are located, identified and hand cleaned by Davis technicians that have been with their company over 35 years. This meticulous procedure prevents the dreaded yellow stains that would eventually surface, and gradually darken to black, completely degrading the fabric.

After hand cleaning, the gown is hand-ironed following the designer’s line and drape, and then packaged in 100% acid-free (including the wedding chest!) archival quality packaging. White cottons gloves are included with the preservation (in order for the bride to be able to handle her gown without transferring oils and salt from her hands to the gown). No sealed boxes with little windows here! Preservations are accomplished the same way that the Museum Conservation Institute of the Smithsonian Institution and The Chicago History Museum preserve textiles. This type of preservation is classified as an open preservation, which allows for natural fibers to breathe, and allows viewing of the gown over time.

To learn more about the full list of Davis Imperial pre- and post-services available to the bride and her wedding party, click here.



My name is Brooke, and for just over a year now, I have written a blog called Always a Bridesmaid, which essentially covers everything weddings. Along the way, I’ve discovered countless incredible resources for brides, their party, and wedding-goers at large; from bridal boutiques to florists to dessert shops that would make a gal’s mouth water. The wedding world in Chicago, like most communities once you infiltrate them, actually becomes quite intimate, and word-of-mouth is paramount.

So in hopes of bringing the best of the Chicago wedding and fashion world to my readers, I ventured out to Davis Imperial to see first-hand what the fuss was about. Even from its exterior, the space looks nothing like a typical dry cleaner–elegantly crafted signage (no neon here!) displayed names like Chanel, and the windows themselves housed fashion that would fit perfectly within the walls of a high-end boutique. It’s no wonder, as I discovered the visual merchandiser behind the displays held long-standing jobs at Neiman’s and Armani. If a merchandiser seems out of place within the average idea of a dry cleaner, get used to it; once you experience the Davis Imperial difference first hand, the accolades they’ve been receiving–making “best of” lists in books such as CS, Chicago Magazine, CS Brides, and Esquire Magazine’s: The Big Black Book-The Style Manual for Successful Men–are no surprise.

The difference is in the detail paid to every single service the Woods deliver. Lynda, Rick, and their son Jordan Wood are the tour de force behind the company, a business founded by Lynda’s parents who opened the doors over 55 years ago. Somehow, they manage to strike a delicate balance between a luxury brand (take one look at the packaging the clothing is sent home in and the “welcome kit” clients receive when engaging their services, and you’ll see there’s no better word fit to describe them) and a family business, providing the style-obsessed of Chicago a trusted resource for all the most important events in their lives. The Woods don’t just care about the bottom line, they care about the lives and the experience of their clients, treating them like family and never settling for less than the best.

Discovering the Davis Imperial name is like learning a vocabulary word you never knew before–once you hear it, suddenly it’s everywhere. The influence of the brand and the family infiltrates the city’s fashion and bridal world, and the stories aren’t just about clothing care, they offer a peek into the life of a family and of Chicagoans everywhere. Which is why I am so honored to launch this blog that allows everyone to learn firsthand the Davis Imperial difference, and bring exclusive fashion and bridal events, tips, and tricks to readers. Not only that, but Lynda, Rick, and Jordan will be stopping by every Friday for a Q&A session, answering everything and anything you want to know about the world of clothing, weddings, style and fabricare.

Thanks so much for reading! And please, if you have any stories you’d like to share, questions to ask, or topics you’d love to read about, email me at davisimperialblog@gmail.com. To learn more about the Davis Imperial difference, click over to their site.

p.s. Now you can follow Davis Imperial on Twitter and friend them on Facebook for blog, event, and deal updates.


Today’s reader question is about what it really means when a cleaner claims to be “green”.

Question: “Lately, I have really been trying to clean up my act when it comes to the environment, but I am wondering if there is a way to do this with my dry cleaner of choice? I am not really sure what the difference is between a “green” cleaner and a normal one. Am I losing anything by sending my clothing to an environmentally-friendly cleaner? Will my clothes get the same benefits? What am I gaining?” {Sarah, Vernon Hills, IL}


Unless you’re a zealot for whom no price is too great to pay or sacrifice too much to ask, striking a balance between being a good environmental citizen and maintaining your personal standards for the quality and care in your life requires you to be an educated consumer.

Some choices are easy. You have to go to San Francisco for your BFF’s wedding. The smallest impact you could have on the environment is walking. THAT is zealot territory. The most self-indulgent choice is a private jet. THAT is obscene. For most responsible human beings who care about the world they live in, the reasonable choice is a seat on a non-stop commercial airline flight (an added bonus would be a full plane that achieved economy of scale!).

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For other choices, like dry cleaning, the pros and cons are not so obvious because the knowledge required to make an intelligent decision is primarily known only by industry insiders. You are to be commended for wanting to know the pluses and minuses attached to your choices, and we’re happy to share our inside, painstakingly researched information with you.

  1. All cleaners are not created equal.

There are green zealot cleaners for whom changes in texture, tensile strength, cleanliness, or even size are acceptable sacrifices because their primary and perhaps exclusive interest in being GREEN. These are generally ONE process cleaners. Think of them like a one-size-fits-all garment. They NEVER fit everyone perfectly. Similarly, a single green cleaning process is never the perfect cleaning answer for every garment brought in to them,. The result will almost always be a compromise.

  1. There are cleaners who have NO environmental conscience.

For their own reasons they choose not to invest in any eco-friendly technologies or practices beyond those required by state or local governments. Most of these cleaners are solely dependent on processing 100% of your garments in a solvent that the federal EPA has deemed to be a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP).