Irony... The opposite of wrinkly.
Updated: Mar 28
To iron or not to iron, THAT IS THE QUESTION.
Most men agree, that there is no better feeling than putting on a crisp, new shirt. It would be nice if our shirts always stayed crisp and clean, but just as life, things gets dirty. This blog provides tips to keep your shirt crisp, clean look is critical to the lifetime value of your dress shirt.
DISCLAIMER: This blog addresses 100% cotton dress shirts not polyester-cotton blend shirts. For many years, cotton-poly shirts have claimed non-iron status and only recently in this decade could you find a dress shirt that was 100% cotton and non-iron. This blog addresses non-iron cotton shirts at the bottom.
Caring and ironing your shirts will make them look better longer. The longer your shirt stays sharp, the smarter you’ll feel about the investment you made. And the good news is that bringing that shirt back to its original out-of-the-box allure is very doable without a lot of work on your part.
British Pressing Guidelines
Using an iron with a lot of steam while the shirt is still damp IF POSSIBLE makes the following process much easier.
It is best to start with the collar:
Remove the collar stiffeners if you forgot to take them out before washing. With the shirt still damp, pull the collar taut to prevent the tips from curling. Start with the underside of the collar and iron from the outside edge to the centre. Repeat this on the opposite side. Fold the collar along the neckband seam and iron, creating a definite fold.
Next iron the cuffs:
Begin on the inside of the cuff, ironing from the outside edge to the centre. Turn over and repeat on the outside of the cuff. For double cuffs (for cufflinks), fold the cuff in half, line up the cufflink holes and iron a crisp crease along the fold.
Next iron the yoke (the bit that runs along the shoulders):
With one half of the yoke pulled taut on the ironing board, iron from the sleeve away from the centre. Repeat on the other side.
Next iron the sleeves:
Carefully spread one sleeve on the ironing board, smoothing out any creases (the cuff opening should be uppermost). Starting at the top of the sleeve, iron from the bottom seam towards the top, making a definite crease along the top seam. As you get down to the cuff, carefully iron between the folds of material. Repeat this process on the other side of the sleeve.
Next, iron the back of the shirt:
Iron in sections, smoothing the fabric across the ironing board. Work from the yoke down.
Finally, iron the front of the shirt:
Place the shirt so that the tip of the ironing board fits into the top of the armhole and iron the seam. Repeat on the other side. Then iron the rest of the front of the shirtfront in sections, smoothing the fabric across the ironing board. Be sure to iron between each of the buttons.
A very comprehensive video series on ironing is provided by the Gentleman's Gazette:
Starch or not to starch?
There are advantages and disadvantages to using starch and other chemical stiffeners. Fabric types and colors respond differently depending on the product used and can slowly damage the fibers. I sometimes use starch on the collar, but always do it to the back of the collar and while using a presser cloth. Use of starch is up to you, but be warned and never use them on non-iron shirts.
Nowadays, you can find shirts labeled, "Non-Iron" that are 100% cotton. Non-iron shirts are specially treated with high temperatures to lock the shirt’s fibers into a smooth state, which ensures that when the shirt is hung up to dry after washing --- it stays remarkably crease-free.
Non-iron shirts also absorb less water in the washing machine --- they keep their shape and color, they’re less likely to shrink, and they’re able to dry more quickly. After washing, all you need to do is hang the shirts to dry, or tumble dry them (low to medium heat for no more than 15 minutes), and then they’re ready to wear.