Q: I spilled coffee all over my tan shearling jacket. Aside from hiding the spots with pashmina scarves, what can I do?
A: Unless you're aiming for a new variant on the the animal-print look, you'll need to take your coat to a professional. Stains on leather, suede, shearling, and other skins can be removed or diminished. But, warns Dan Eisen, chief garment analyst at the Neighborhood Cleaners Association, the hide will not necessarily come back looking as good as new. Depending on the degree of rigor involved in the cleaning process (chemical solvents, soap and water, or mere dry cleaning), your garment may very well lose oil and color and require refinishing or re-dyeing; there might even be some shrinkage. It all depends on the nature of the stain and the fragility and inherent imperfections of the hide. The key is to not wait. Request an estimate up front -- a three-quarter-length shearling at a really good cleaner can run you about $85 to $150 -- and ask what kind of results you can expect. Most local dry cleaners will forward your garment to a specialist, but if you'd rather cut out the middleman, here are the city's best leather cleaners:
Fashion Award Cleaners (1462 Lexington Avenue, near 95th Street; 212-289-5623): Personalized service and competitive prices draw Stateside clients, like Sotheby's vintage queen Tiffany Dubin, and fans from as far away as South Africa and Europe.
Meurice Garment Care (245 East 57th Street, 212-759-9057; 31 University Place, 212-475-2778): They'll tackle almost anything, even lemon-oil cleaner on a suede jacket.
Hallak Cleaners (1232 Second Avenue, near 65th Street; 212-832-0750): A favorite of designer boutiques, they've been cleaning leather for over thirty-five years.