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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Reader Question for the Community: When, if ever, do you iron?


Reader Question for the Community:   to iron or not to iron?   
Old habits die hard; my mother preached “successful people are not wrinkled people” but an iron seems to be a thing of the past these days and my mother never envisioned how casual dressing has become.  Thoughts?

45 comments:

  1. I'm with your mother. I just turned 70 and I iron. Ironed sheets are fabulous. My husband sends his shirts to the cleaners so I don't have to do that but my clothes...I iron, plus the sheets. And cloth napkins!

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  2. I occasionally do a little touch-up ironing on my ocbd shirts (collar and cuffs) and khakis, especially if I'm going to be wearing a tie and dressier shoes than my normal Topsiders. Otherwise, I prefer being slightly rumpled.

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  3. I iron my khakis, tops and my pillowcases and sheets.

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  4. I or my dry cleaner will iron my dress shirts or broadcloth sport shirts. I rarely iron my OCBDs unless I’m wearing it with a tie or for a special occasion; I prefer them to be slightly wrinkled - same for my cotton trousers.

    There’s no right/wrong answer, though. It depends on the situation and personal style.

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  5. I iron everything that needs it. I prefer not being wrinkled or rumpled. But I also wear things that don't need it, too. I polish my shoes, too.

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  6. I'm one lucky guy as my wife, for 35 years, has ironed both our shirts pants, napkins, sheets, pillow cases and anything else she deems worthy.

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    1. You are a lucky man, indeed!

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  7. Yes I iron almost everything... why, is a funny story. My wife and I have been married 39 years. Very early in our marriage I made the mistake of voicing my dissatisfaction with the way she ironed one of my shirts. That was the last time I ever complained about anything she ever did. Ironing became my job that day! As time passed we had two daughters and I learned that little girl blouses are the hardest thing to press. We now live three doors down from our older daughter, her husband and their three children. Occasionally one of the grandchildren comes running down with something their mom wants me to iron.

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    1. Well done! Good for you. It seems you learned a great lesson from a fantastic teacher.

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    2. On the morning after they returned from their honeymoon, my mother made my father a cup of coffee. He said "I don't drink instant coffee." She said "fine." And that was the last cup of coffee she ever made him in 60 otherwise happy years.

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  8. My mother said to me in the fall of 1979, when I was in the 7th Grade, "Come here. I'm going to show you how to press your own shirts. The woman you marry someday will appreciate it." Now 52, I still press my dress shirts each evening (or early morning) during the academic year. The one exception is for white dress shirts, which I take to the cleaners. They just look better (and remain whiter for longer) than I can manage at home when professionally done. I sometimes also recrease wool dress pants and iron my sons sport shirts, our cloth napkins, and the occasional table cloth as necessary. An iron and ironing board are very handy items to have around the house.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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    1. About same time I too was told to come pay attention on how to iron by my mother. I was a bit older and getting ready to go off to college. Anyway after several attempts my mother suggested I find a good dry cleaner in every place that I live. It was cheaper than replacing dress shirts, pants and we never made it to other laundry items

      Some of the best advice I received

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    2. When I was about 7 years old, my mother, in a frantic hurry one morning, put me in front of the ironing board and told me to pretend that the iron was a fish and to quickly swim across the fabric with quick zig zag strokes. She forgot to warn me not to rest the iron face down or by holding it down by my side. I still have small triangle scars on my thigh! Live and learn.

      I enjoy ironing but I don't enjoy setting up the board each time. I wish I had enough room to keep it set up all the time.

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    3. Setting up the board, ah you're reminding me of the discreet little panelled cabinet in my growing-up house, it was a long and narrow door located in the kitchen which, you guessed it, hid the permanently-wall-mounted/hinged ironing board that simply dropped down on its one front leg for the task, then closed back up behind the door when done. Below it was a smaller companion cabinet that held the iron. Fun memory!

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  9. I even iron madras patchwork--I'm hopeless. I've tried to break the habit of ironing my chambray "work" shirts, but no luck so far, and I'm 70. I love the look and feel of a soft, unironed OCBD--on somebody else--totally acceptable.

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  10. My mother insisted everything be ironed, to include the sheets. I do not have the staff she employed and so the sheets aren’t ironed. (Swoons with the indignity of only having a cleaning lady once a week.) Everything else I either iron myself or take to the dry cleaner. I’m in my 40’s and am sad to see that many of the up and coming 20-30 somethings don’t iron much. If at all.

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  11. I iron my shirts, trousers and - occasionally - sweaters.

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  12. I had a grandmother who was visibly upset at the idea of not ironing undershirts and boxers. After a summer at Marine Corps OCS, I gained an appreciation for such attention to detail. I'm the designated ironer in our house. I know it is a burden for many people, but in my case it is a chance to be useful. It's nice to be wanted. Sheets and skivvies don't get the iron in our home, but no one leaves the house unpresentable.

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  13. I used to iron most of my clothing, but looked in the mirror one day and thought I looked too 'stiff'. Then I remembered something I heard many years ago from the son of one of my art tutors - "If it's over ironed, you're over dressed". Then I realised, it's the few light wrinkles here and there which add a bit of character to an outfit. I now pretty much only iron trousers and shirts which require a quick touch-up.

    Life is far too short to be wasting your time ironing, especially pants, socks, towels, tea-towels, bedding etc.

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  14. I iron something if it needs it. I realize that this is a very individual perspective. When I was working and dressing well in my job, I ironed my good clothes on a regular basis. Now, not as much, as I sadly don't wear those dress clothes anymore. But I do agree that I prefer items to be ironed rather than the more sloppy look of today.

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  15. I use a steamer instead of an iron. It's quicker, more convenient and it's better for the garment, especially if it's a delicate garment. The only issue with a steamer is that creases cannot be pressed into the fabric so dress shirts don't look as crisp.

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  16. I'm probably guilty of over-ironing. Clothes, napkins, pillow cases....men's shirts go to the laundry though. It's kind of zen.

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    1. Are you saying ironing "is kind of zen"? That's the way I feel too when I get into that hypnotic state firing up the steam feature to do napkins, something about the exactly repeatable steps as you press, fold, flip, press, turn, press, fold again, press, on to the next one - and talk about immediate gratification!

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    2. Yes! Exactly - get into the rhythm.

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    3. Yay! I've found my people!

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  17. What's ironing?

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  18. Gosh; this is impressive. I sent in the question and am not entirely surprised that almost everyone irons - but that people still iron sheets and pillowcases. My sheets are so old and soft they don't wrinkle anymore but the cases still need ironing. Patsy; agree about the almost zen feeling. It's great to open all the windows on a cool morning, iron and daydream while doing so. Plus, it's much more satisfying than the dreaded chore of dusting.

    Do you think this is a generational difference though? One thing I've noticed is that one can almost get away with the wrinkled, rumpled look if the fabric is good...but if it's cheap and throwaway type clothing, it just looks horrible which is what I try to explain to young people in the family to no avail. There's also a noticeable difference between linen which has been ironed and then wrinkles throughout the day as opposed to linen which hasn't been ironed at all.

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  19. I don't own an iron. I live in the South and, when I was growing up, we had a maid who ironed everything. But that was then, and this is now.

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    1. I grew up sort of in the South. We didn't have a maid; we had a housekeeper. But that was only because my mother was an invalid and could do no housework. I have little memories of anyone ironing, though. Washday was something of a production.

      I get a lot of satisfaction out of ironing, I am embarrassed to admit, same as polishing shoes. I don't know about Zen but there is a benefit to doing some manual labor everyday--if you count ironing as labor. It's chop wood carry water. These days, it's mow the lawn rake the leaves wash the dishes clean the floor. For a change of pace, you refinish furniture.

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  20. Dress shirts, khakis, slacks....

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  21. As a part of the "younger" generation, I was taught to iron, but not obsessively so. I have an aunt who literally presses everything that goes on her body, even just some sweatpants! That sent me running in the other direction. Today, though, I only iron items that deem it. Collars and button lines, especially. But to agree with another commenter, there's definitely clothing these days that looks better with some relax/wrinkle to it, but not overly so. I'm female so Ive never had to deal with pressing suits etc... but some gentle ironing does help people look more put together with that next level of dress. But, in all, with the insurgence of stretchy fabrics and blends, ironing just doesnt often work, they melt or look stiff.
    People who iron sheets are weird. Maybe a pillow case if the fold creases look awful.

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    1. My lovely 90 year old neighbor irons her sheets and is definitely not weird.

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  22. ...no, I have a life.

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  23. I live in the South and during a long, hot summer, I wear 100% cotton. I iron all my clothes. I watch "brain candy" TV while doing so. Ironing absorbs the guilt.

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  24. Male, 53. For years, I sent work shirts to the dry cleaner. I tried no-iron cotton shirts and am not a fan. Now, I seek out untreated/wrinkly cotton shirts, launder them at home, and iron them myself. Two keys: 1) get a high quality iron. It makes a huge difference. A good made-in-Germany Rowenta iron, for example. 2) damp dry your shirts for 10-12 minutes, let them dry the rest of the way on a hanger, then iron. This limits shrinkage and wear/tear on the fabric.

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  25. Just for the sake of variety, I'll comment: I rarely iron.

    I know the zen of ironing and I enjoy it. I like the smell. I like the instant effect of ironing. Move that magic iron and--poof!--perfectly smooth. But, honestly, I just have more important things to do. Basic house cleaning, gardening/landscaping, cooking, homeschooling, caring for pets...

    The idea of hiring someone to take care of my home is so far from my world and experience that it feels scary and invasive. Shoot, it's hard for me to hire someone else to build an addition: I keep feeling like a lazy failure for not doing it all myself.

    My iron gets most of its use when I sew. Pressing as I go helps me keep things more precise and my measurements more accurate.

    I don't particularly enjoy being rumpled, but line-drying gets most of the wrinkles out. Plus, living in the woods in a rural community, it's easy to get that over-dressed "going out" look if your clothes are perfectly pressed.

    I did try ironing sheets and pillowcases once, after I read that people did that. It sure looked pretty! But the next morning it was just as rumpled as before and I didn't notice that I slept any better. Do you change the sheets and iron them every day?

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  26. I think there’s nothing better looking than that of a nicely pressed shirt. I wash, hang dry, and iron all my OCBD’s as well as any khaki pant I wear with them. I feel one could get away without ironing a pair of chinos or reds, but they mustn’t be too wrinkly. I can understand linen garments to a point, but an ironed garment looks tidy. Just an opinion of a 36 year old male southerner.

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  27. Mother always harped more on wearing clean underwear in case of getting in an accident more than how we looked.

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  28. Remember ironing your sisters long hair?

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    1. I ironed my hair! Actually, my best friend and I ironed each other's hair. We hated our thick bohemian long locks at a time when everyone looked like Farrah Fawcett with wings. Oh what I would give to have that thick curly hair once again.

      I hate to see anyone wearing wrinkled clothing. I'm not obsessive about ironing but wrinkles from improper hanging or folding makes clothing look dirty and old and gives the person an appearance of poor hygiene. I rarely need to iron but I most definitely will for less casual functions. I don't mind my linen shirts having puckers but the hem must be ironed and I prefer the entire shirt to be lightly pressed- not stiff!

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  29. It's funny you mention Zen, Blue Train. Ironing and folding laundry are like that for me. A not entirely unpleasant activity in which my mind goes completely clear and serene during the time it takes to complete the task. Making the bed and loading/unloading the dishwasher are similar. Same with vacuuming.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  30. My mother didn't sleep much, so growing up I could deposit a shirt in the laundry at night and wake up to find it good as new back in the closet in the morning. The ironing was impeccable. When I went to school the expectation was that I would send shirts out, however the high standard that I was used to at home was never matched and I, inheriting some of my mother's need to have things just right, began doing my shirts at home. I find it strangely therapeutic. This isn't to say there haven't been days where I've done a front, cuffs and collar job and proceeded to throw a jacket over it.

    As for other items, cloth napkins and table linens get pressed by hand (the monograms must puff) and guest bed linens get put through the mangle (inherited from my parents).

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  31. Ironing tip - turn the garment inside out and then iron it. The garment will look nicer for a longer period. However, for pants creases, you'll have to iron in the normal way, as inside out will create an inverse crease!

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  32. I'm a man and I still iron. Even worse, I get liquid starch in a bottle and I hard starch my shirts and some pants. And I have a couple pairs of Wrangler jeans that get Texas starched and creased (look it up).

    A friend was recently at my house and came to me with the question "I'm sure there's a logical reason for this but, why are there frozen shirts balled up in the freezer?" It's because I starch a batch and then learned the hard way that if I can't iron them all at once, they will get moldy unless I freeze them!
    [okay, I might be a bit quirky]

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