Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Poll: Non-Iron Finish vs. Untreated



Many avoid garments that have been treated with a Non-Iron finish.  The edges wear prematurely, they do not breathe, many don't trust the chemicals, and they simply do not look "right". However, others swear by them for their crisp appearance, ease, and for the money they save on laundering.

What are your thoughts? Here is the poll question:

Over the next year, I plan to buy new khakis and button down shirts that are:
  • Exclusively with Non-Iron/Wrinkle-Free Finish
  • Mostly with Non-Iron/Wrinkle-Free Finish
  • Mostly Untreated
  • Exclusively Untreated
Final Results:

OVER THE NEXT YEAR, I PLAN TO BUY NEW KHAKIS AND BUTTON DOWN SHIRTS THAT ARE:

Exclusively with Non-Iron Finish
  37 (5%)
Mostly with Non-Iron Finish
  106 (15%)
Mostly Untreated
  168 (24%)
Exclusively Untreated
  363 (53%)

Votes so far: 674
Poll closed 

60 comments:

Bitsy said...

I agree 100% about the non-iron finish. I bought a couple of BB shirts with a non-iron finish only because they didn't have them in my size without. I mistakenly thought the finish would wash out, but have since learned it is baked in to the fabric. I find the feel of the fabric to be quite uncomfortable. I have since donated the shirts.

Anonymous said...

Muffy:

I had for years assumed that " no-iron " had something to do with the way the fabric was woven. Oh my...a little research would have corrected that egregious supposition but instead I found out the hard way after experiencing a veritable second shower after donning said garment on one particularly warm summer day.

Needless to say, to date I loathe anything with such a treatment.

Parnassus said...

Hello Muffy,

If these had been for work it would have been all cotton/no treatment all the way, because there really is a difference.
However, since ironing and I don't mix, and clothes that look casually unironed on others make me look like I slept in the park, "no-iron" was a temptation for me, but like your other commenters, I found the finishes peculiar. Don't tell anyone, but even a few artificial filaments among the cotton are a better compromise for wearing around the house.
--Road to Parnassus

Bethany Hissong said...

Non-iron is so uncomfortable!

WRJ said...

Easy: Totally untreated. (Though in all honesty, I don't think I own anything non-iron.)

I've always thought of non-iron as a solution for a problem that doesn't (or needn't) exist. (Except perhaps for those who travel a great deal.) I have all of my oxfords and khakis laundered and pressed at the dry cleaners, and they look great and stay relatively neat over the course of a day. They're even better with a light starching, though I hear that may have some effect on longevity. While the cost isn't negligible, even at the pricey French place it's doable (washing and drying at home isn't free, either). And that's for business wear; casually, I consider a tumble-dry just fine. My mom always jokes that real preppies wear their clothes rumpled and wrinkled, anyway.

Annoyingly, Brooks Bros.'s salespeople now refers to their regular OCBDs as "must-iron".

Lollyg said...

New purchases will all be untreated. I think the non-iron finish makes clothing feel (and appear, actually) like synthetic fabric.

Although these finishes are supposed to eventually wear off, I have seen no change in the two BB shirts I have had for a couple of years.

Bob Gall said...

I used to be totally committed to BB's untreated oxford button downs. I've lost my integrity, I guess, and really like the non-iron shirts.

As for khakis, I'm an untreated Bill's khaki guy all the way - wrinkle me up!

Anonymous said...

I prefer non-iron, but my housekeeper does the ironing anyway... I'd ask her, but I am sure I know what she would choose for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently in the process of returning the few (2) non-iron shirts that I own and replacing them with must-iron shirts.

Anonymous said...

although i am into the preppy style, for work in a dress shirt the no-iron is best. after a day at work the regular shirt looks terrible where the no-iron looks great. Brook Bros and others. in my work as an attorney i have worn both. i have no negatives with the no-iron shirts. i have been in meeting where you can clearly tell a guy is wearing the reg shirt-all wrinkled up and sloppy.

Cubanchem said...

Untreated all the way. Cotton is supposed to wrinkle, the no iron finish makes the shirt or pants look plastic. Plus, the no iron garments tend not to be as comfortable as its regular cotton cousin. I'd rather be wrinkled and comfortable than shiny, smooth and tacky looking like I bought my shirt, tie and suit on one hanger, prematched for me at some factory. Just sayin.
Pedro

HillaryPearl said...

I believe the fewer chemicals used on anything the better. This applies to food, clothing, cleaners, etc.

F Jack said...

There's quite a few non iron devotees in my office. The clothes, shirts especially, always stand out a mile. Very unnatural looking. It may be a coincidence, but they are worn almost exclusively by the least interesting people.

Ellie said...

The only thing I wear like this are the no iron pinpoint oxford shirts from Land's End. It just makes my life easier to pull them out for work and have a crisp clean shirt without having to dry clean. I tend to wear skirts and dresses where I find the crip-ness of the garment far less important.

Anonymous said...

I personally hate no-iron fabrics, and never buy anything so treated. Go ahead and carry those items if you must, but not at the expense of the untreated versions!

Reggie Darling said...

The misery is I can't find non-treated khakis or shirts (usually) at BB anymore. I loathe non-iron shirts and khakis, and gladly would pay to have the "real thing" laundred. Reggie

Anonymous said...

I like the untreated shirts, but I don't feel that strongly about the issue. The main thing I've found is, with the BB shirts at least, the untreated ones shrink more. I'm a 16" collar in the non-iron shirts and they fit perfectly, but in the untreated a 16" is stranglingly tight and I have to go to 16 1/2"!

Philly Trad said...

Untreated oxford cloth shirts simply look sloppy, and always have. The treated ones are a godsend for those of us who care about maintaining a proper appearance.

Anonymous said...

I don't even like Teflon sprayed or baked into my frying pans.

HPG said...

I made the mistake of buying a non iron oxford (ll bean) once and will never do it again. The collar and cuffs look too bulky, stiff, and artificial. The worst was trying to wear a sweater over it, the sweater didn't stand a chance against that massive stiff collar and stretched out in all sorts of unnatural directions. Have not yet tried non-iron pants.

Shan said...

I don't really like the stiff, somewhat scratchy feeling of some non iron shirts, but the recent BB ones I purchased are soft and breathable.

I am surprised no one has mentioned that the maintenance costs (time ironing/hiring a housekeeper or sending it to dry cleaners on a regular basis) is a privilege and luxury that not everyone can afford.

John I said...

I do not like treated wrinkle resistant fabric either. A while back the New York Times had an article about allergies caused in the home and found that that chemicals like formaldehyde are used in the manufacturing processof wrinkle resistant clothes and as such give off fumes that can irritate persons who not only wear clothes but closets that store them as well.

Anonymous said...

Untreated...but it's growing increasingly hard to find.

One company never mentioned on here is Eileen Fisher. In the past few years, they have been trying to appeal to a younger customer and the clothes are getting expensive - but the organic cotton they use is wonderful. I prefer the "basics" line because it's more fitted and traditional. The clothes last forever, the workmanship is good, and so far, they seem to be avoiding treating their clothes with chemicals.

Any other suggestions where to buy untreated women's clothes would be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I prefer non-iron shirts. For work, meeting with clients, non-iron shirts are simply better. I have a few OCBD must iron, they don't really fit Manhattan office environment. Most people around wear non-iron and by the end of the day, it's still crisp. But I iron all my non-iron shirts, they look like new after ironing and it's soo easy to iron than OCBD.

Bantam in Chicago said...

I have worn both, but for the time being I strongly prefer un-treated shirts. Non-iron shirts are convenient but they are scratchier and worse looking.

Anonymous said...

Properly starched for the weather, the untreated OCBD looks better than the non-iron. Non-iron shirts are for the lazy who do not benefit from a good cleaner who properly launders, presses, and starches your professional attire to the seasons. Amazing how phobic everyone is of a shirt with character - everything must be so sterile these days.

Anonymous said...

I usually don't buy treated shirts or khakis because I have my shirts professionally laundered and, although some - not all - of my khakis are treated, I have them all dry-cleaned and pressed. While on the subject of shirts, I recently acquired three nice dress shirts at T.J.Maxx - two are Ralph Lauren ($34.99 each), and the third, a perfect Brooks Brothers blue oxford ($59.99). A lot better than full price wouldn't you agree? Come to think of it, with the exception of two college polos, I don't believe I've ever paid full price for any of the numerous RL shirts I have. Frankly, with the exception of those two college polo shirts, I'd have a hard time justifying the full price.

Preppy With A Twist said...

Definitely untreated for me. My Mom taught me to iron.

Anonymous said...

I also do not care for these treated garments; they look very strange to me. I love the "raw" look of untreated fabrics. My husband has a few pieces of the "wrinkle free" (which they always need ironing anyway) that he bought in a pinch when traveling for business. They are hardly worn. In the summer, we LOVE the look of wrinkled pure linen. I enjoy ironing, so starching and ironing is a relaxing past time. We don't send anything to the cleaners to be laundered. --Holly in PA

Patsy said...

The weird thing I've noticed about my non-iron BB shirts is that their cuffs get much, much dirtier than my 'must iron' shirts.

Like Holly, I always iron my non-iron shirts.

C. said...

Love the the blue and striped shirts!

Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased to have read this post and these comments. I don't own anything "no-iron," but I had considered it for future purchases. After reading these comments, I will stick to non-treated items.

Thank you!

Marcus Smith said...

What kills me is Land's End's new catalogs lauding their supima no-iron shirt. When I saw it, I had to exclaim out loud, "Why would they make a shirt out of such exquisite cotton, then ruin it with a no-iron finish?!"

That said, I have only one no-iron shirt - a white BB dress shirt, and honestly, my Stafford poly/cotton oxfords (bought before I knew better) are softer than it is.

Anyway, I find ironing to be quite therapeutic. My favorite shirts are my must-iron all cotton oxfords (especially ones that are a little worn out).

Unknown said...

Untreated forever!

Heidi T. said...

I cho the untreated, but the treated do have their place, especially for work or unifrom trousers. Ues, some of us do work in the real world ( at least part time) and certain labor requires those nasty fibers. But once home, peal them off and slink into some nice weathered cotton...yes please!

Anonymous said...

If the untreated cotton shirts are washed and ironed by a good laundry, they aren't going to look sloppy by the end of the day, at least not in my experience. And even less so if they are lightly starched. Of course one has to wear a clean shirt every day. I've been wearing untreated cotton shirts for more than fifty years now, including a number of years in law firms where all the men wore relatively good shirts.

I did buy one treated shirt a few months ago to see what they are like, but I haven't worn it yet.

--John P.

pve design said...

Exclusively untreated.

I do have one Summer sleeveless shirt that my dear husband gave to me from Brooks that is no-iron and it does stay looking crisp and cool but I much prefer a good to honest wrinkle. As my Mother says, a wrinkle in time not only adds character but alas -makes the skin softer. It is true.

Plus, Ironing is therapeutic. What will the staff be left with...no-ironing?
pve

Anonymous said...

Muffy:

It's a matter of principle: this treatment is an abomination to all notions of tradition. Let the many be told what to wear, but a small few shall continue to decide for themselves.

No-iron is for parvenus and conformists.

Anonymous said...

Wearing a treated shirt feels and looks like wearing a garbage bag.

Anonymous said...

Fairly or not, I think of no-iron shirts as very mid-Atlantic.

j.mosby said...

Untreated vote here! nothing like the look a well laundered dress shirt! Keep the no iron for the beach cover-up or for work around the house!

Anonymous said...

Ideally, I would only buy completely untreated Oxford shirts. However, that's difficult, if you want to expand beyond the basic colors offered at Brooks Brothers. Even Mercer & Sons has limited offerings in traditional Oxfords.

I will note that LL Bean's oxfords, while wrinkle free, have something that is close to the traditional oxford weave. Not quite as nice as they used to be, but not the slick, fake finish you find on some non-irons.

The funny thing is, I send my wrinkle free shirts to the cleaners as well. Its just a lot easier that way.

Paul- Maryland said...

•Exclusively Untreated

Greenfield said...

I've gotten some very traditional, must-iron nice heavy OCBD's from Land's End lately, and must say I like them. Colors and cut like I remember from school and early career days, as opposed to Bean's and even BB's funky colors and experimental cuts lately.

Like some of you above, my Mom taught me to iron well, and it IS one of those therapeutic mindless jobs.

Now, the company who comes up with an OCBD and khakis that can honestly repel dust, fly spray and horse snorts, well, I'm all ears!

CPC, Andover, MA said...

Untreated everything, always.

Juli said...

In spite of the fact that it's increasingly difficult to find untreated classic clothing for women, it's far preferable to a non-iron finish. Lately I've taken to scouting out the local Goodwill (don't laugh) and found some amazing deals on RL and Docker's 100% cotton khakis, along with BB OCBDs in all-cotton. In fact, earlier this week I found a Land's End cashmere cable cardigan (NWT) for less than $10! Also, like many other readers here, I've ironed my own clothes since adolescence; I find it relaxing and satisfying.

Chris Crabill said...

It is somewhat funny as a retailer to see the responses. For me it's all cotton.They go to the cleaners and are done "no starch".Khaki's dry cleaned. The "no iron trade" if you look at the shirts available come from the same factories.They are a end to a means.I have some pin point shirts from Dillards that are four years old.BB had the same shirt for about ten dollars more.

Chris Crabill said...

I vote for untreated.The treated shirts come from the same factories. IE a factory will do a program for a number of retailers. Same goods similar price. I have some five year old Dillards pinpoints that Jo banks and BB all had. Good shirt,has softened after five years.

Anonymous said...

Totally untreated. Mercer & Sons or Gitman.

Anonymous said...

For work? Non-Iron every time, they are too easy and they last just as long as untreated thus far. For the weekend, give me a OCBD untreated every time, they are far more comfortable, and a wrinkle here or there can actually enhance the look, unlike at work.

A reminder to those comments about chemicals, the amount of chemicals used to make my non-iron shirt (which I can now wash at home myself) is far less than those used when you send out your shirts every week to the dry-cleaners. Its also not very good for the cloth to be repeatedly scalded with a hot iron each week.

Michael Rowe said...

I cannot bear treated "non-iron" shirts. That said, I have been known to bring a pair on non-iron khakis when I travel, especially if long plane flights are involved. They are hung back up when I get home. But non iron shirts are the very Devil, always.

Anonymous said...

Mostly non iron. Fit/cut is most important.

I really like the ll bean no iron oxfords. I wish I could get orvis ultimate khakis in no iron.

R.A. Sasayama said...

Exclusively Untreated.

Anonymous said...

I have both non-iron and must iron shirts. I find the non-iron just hold up better at work and I cannot stand the feel of starch on my shirts.

My must iron shirts are reserved for some bespoke shirts and other luxury shirts that I do not wear in regular rotation.

I do not find non-iron shirt hotter than starched must iron.

Tulkinghorn said...

And yet.....

A recent trip to a Brooks Brothers store in Los Angeles revealed that they have no faith in their best product, with the availability of no-iron outnumbering must-iron by a factor of five.

An subsequent on-line order arrived promptly, but really...

I live in the second largest city in the country and can't buy a classic OCBD from Brooks Brothers?

Mark Johnson said...

Yes ironed shirt feel you better in comparison of non-iron shirt.

Anonymous said...

No-iron shirts are like wearing a plastic bag - very hot, humid and uncomfortable. They should just sell them as polyester.

Anonymous said...

Any chemists around for advice? I was searching for a cleaning method or formula that might remove the wrinkle-free finish and as usual, stumbled upon this blog ;D I don't like the finish at all and rarely ever wear the treated shirts in my closet. Not only are these shirts uncomfortable and noisy but they are also adding unnecessary formalin and formaldehyde to my environment and on my skin. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/11/your-money/11wrinkle.html?pagewanted=all
One of the posters mentioned that the treatment is baked into the fabric so, I'm wondering if I can dry the shirts on high heat in hopes of 'over-baking' which might result in compromising the integrity of the chemical polymers??? Surely, there must be some cleaner or additive that would remove the finish without destroying the shirt. I think I will experiment with some HCL on a treated shirt.
As for all my untreated cotton shirts of the past, I really never had an issue with wrinkles. It was rare that I had to spend hours ironing ( maybe just the button placket). My cotton poplin shirts come straight out of the dryer wrinkle free. Granted, they are not as crisp looking as a starched shirt but I rarely ever have a need to convey that image.
I love my LL Bean original washed oxford shirts that never wrinkle and always appear soft and fresh throughout the day but I wish that their pinpoint oxfords were not treated. The finish is just too plastic.

sara said...

There isn't anything you can do to remove the chemicals used in wrinkle free or resistant clothes.

However, I use 1/4 cup of good (not store brand) white vinegar in the wash and rinse cycles. Occasionally, I'll let the clothes soak for several hours and add a cup or two of vinegar to the wash but not the rinse cycles. It doesn't remove the pesticides, formaldehyde, etc., but it does make the material feel more natural than plastic.

charliedog99 said...

Again I am late to the party, but this is a subject near and dear to my heart. My husband and I prefer the untreated cotton. Our button down and dress shirts come from Thomas Pink and Brooks Brothers. Shortly after we were married I came across the Thomas Pink store in a Dallas mall. The sales professional told us to wash these shirts in cold water, hang dry, and to press them without starch just as they were almost dry. We have several of the original shirts we purchased twelve years ago, including several with French cuffs.

These laundering instructions were antithetical to what we had been taught by our grandparents and the US Air Force. However we immediately stopped using starch on everything and our clothes have lasted much longer.

I have purchased a few of the "no iron" shirts over the years and I haven't been impressed. I've still had to iron them except the wrinkles wouldn't come out. Other "no iron" shirts were so stiff that I made "swish swish" sounds when my arms brushed up against my body. I won't go into details about the permanent odor that some of these shirts take on if worn on a hot and humid day by a sweaty person.

When I worked in a hyper professional environment and it was my responsibility to notice wrinkled shirts and the like, it became very easy to spot the person that had taken the time to iron their shirts and the natural wrinkling of the day had taken hold versus the person who didn't bother to iron their shirts. Nary an eye was batted at the "natural wrinkling" while the people that didn't bother to iron their shirts were brought in for talks with management.