Only few things can ruin a nice first impression faster than a creased shirt. Bad breath. A limp handshake, maybe. And once you’re out and about wearing your un-ironed eyesore, there’s nothing you can do to hide it unless you throw on another layer — a knit or piece of outerwear maybe — and that’s not always a pleasant solution when it’s as hot as it is today… How lovely is that by the way?!
As you (hopefully!) know, we make a hell lot of shirts here at Bruun & Stengade. Modern fit shirts, slim fit shirts, slim fit shirts for formal use, slim fit shirts for casual use — you name it. You need them for work, special occasions and when meeting your mother in law for the first time and a proper ironing routine is really the only way to do them justice. No matter how nice the rest of your outfit is — if your shirt is a creased mess, the impression you give will be the exact same.
That being said, ironing isn’t quite as easy as your mum made it look like. It’s a practice-makes-perfect kind of thing and there’s a lot to consider if you want the job done properly (not to mention done FAST). So. Here’s how to iron in a way that’ll make your old mamma proud and save yourself a little time, money and embarrassment along the process… You’re welcome!
BUYING AN IRON
Not as simple a task as it may sound — there’s a lot to look for when buying an iron. It all depends on the materials you’ll be ironing and how often you’ll be turning it on. Steam irons are undoubtedly the most popular. They apply steam onto the garment while ironing it to moisten and relax the fabric fibres, making it easy to remove all creases. A general rule is that the higher the steam output, the better the iron.
You’ll need an iron with a well built soleplate — the iron’s face one might call it. And just to make things even more confusing, there’re five different types of faces. Aluminium faces, which will heat up well, but can scratch quite easily. Non-stick, palladium or stainless steel faces, which will glide across your clothes nice and smoothly, but will have trouble removing the most stubborn creases. And last but least, ceramic faces, which will distribute heat well and is quite hard-wearing.
It’s advisable to go for a middle-of-the-market iron, because the price tag doesn’t necessarily reflect quality beyond a certain point.
And — the partner in crime for every iron! You need to invest in a solid, well-padded ironing board while you’re there too.
HOW TO USE THIS NEW LITTLE FELLOW OF YOURS
Before the shirt even reaches the ironing stage, be sure to use fabric conditioner when washing it. This will improve its overall appearance and make it easier to iron, I promise.
Your iron will have different settings for different kinds of materials. And no, you can’t just iron all of you shirts under the same settings! Look for instructions on the little care label sewn into (most likely) the side of your shirt. But — as a general rule — start by sorting your shirts into piles of linen, cotton and synthetics. You’ll be able to see the composition of each shirt by looking at the label, and this way you can gradually dial up the heat in the order the piles require it, without having to wait for the iron to either cool down or warm up in between.
And for the not so bright, don’t ever iron your shirts while wearing them! I guarantee you, it’ll be bad for both of you.
Iron your shirt with a hot iron and slightly damp on the side you’re ironing. Iron lengthwise, not in circular motions, to avoid damaging the material.
For thicker fabrics (such as Oxford shirts), ironing both sides of the fabric will give the best result.
Use steam and a low heat iron for cotton-blend shirts. Either iron it inside-out or place a thin cloth between the shirt and the iron to prevent scorch marks.
Use a cloth or something similar to avoid any iron-to-shirt contact, since polyester is an extremely heat-sensitive material. The same goes for silk and satin, but I don’t know why any of you would have either silk or satin shirts hanging in your closet?! I think (hope) we can just skip this…
Use a hot iron and spray mist on the side you’re ironing. Wet the opposite side of the side you’re ironing first, then the side you’re ironing.
Make sure to iron linen shirts inside out (especially if they’re a darker colour) to avoid the typical ‘shine’ caused by the heat.
THE DETAILED IRON-LIKE-A-PRO GUIDE
I hope I still have a few of you with me… I found this for the ones who’re tired of reading and I can assure you, this guy too knows what it’s all about. Listen up, gentlemen:
Use a mister or the spray function of your iron and spray the shirt liberally. Quite how liberally depends on how soon you want to wear it after finishing up, but the damper it is, the easier it’ll be to remove all creases.
Undo the buttons — all of them, including the cuffs — then follow this all-important order to iron your shirt quickly, thoroughly and like a total pro.
- The collar: open it flat and remember to iron both sides, starting from the outside working inwards. Fold over, pinch the fold and run it over with the iron once again to keep it crisp
- The cuffs: like the collar, open it out and start by ironing the inside to remove all creases and folds. And again, work from the outside in
- The yoke: this is the top of the back and shoulder section. Starting from one side, working into the middle. Then turn the shirt around and do the exact same on the opposite side
- The back: now do the rest of the back, dampening the shirt in case of stubborn creases
- The front: iron the placket (where the buttons and button holes are placed) first, pinching and pulling in one end to make the job easier. Use the pointy end of the iron to get in between the buttons. Then iron the rest of the front
- The sleeves: making sure it’s folded at the seam, iron both sides of the sleeve, pulling gently in one end to make sure it’s taut
The trick is to keep the iron moving at all times. Lightly pull on the shirt as you go, but not so much that you create creases that wasn’t there in the first place. I tell you, this really comes with practice.
And the last, but certainly not least important step is to make sure you hang up your shirt straight after you’re done. This is especially crucial if you got a bit steam-happy and the shirt is still quite damp.
A FEW EXTRA TIPS TOTALLY FREE OF CHARGE
- If you find the pointy end of the ironing board awkward, spin it around and use the squared-off edge in the other end. This will allow you to iron more material in one go without having to move the shirt around.
- Iron your shirt inside-out whenever possible. It’s a bit of extra effort, but it’ll pay off for all the times you manage to avoid ruining your clothes with a big iron mark. Never a good look.
- Avoid ironing buttons, zips or any other hard material that can’t be more straight than it already is.
- After doing your laundry, make sure to hang up your shirts right away. Result — most creases will smooth themselves out and do the job for you really.
- Buy shirts treated with ‘Easy Care’ or similar treatments that lead to minimum ironing and makes the shirt retain its ‘new’ appearance even after frequent laundering. Treatments like these will also make sure they doesn’t shrink, loose their shape, fade or colour-bleed. All in all a very appreciable feature.
- If you’re in a rush and you need a smooth-looking formal shirt A S A P, stick to ironing the front, the collar and the cuffs only — but remember, you won’t be able to take off your jacket.