The Details are in the Crease: A Man's Guide to Ironing Shirts

With the benefit of hindsight, this male will definitely say that learning to iron one’s own shirt can decidedly pay long dividends. A properly ironed shirt will definitely differentiate you from the average guy. Both of the old adages are true, the clothes make the man and women love a well-dressed man. Pay attention and learn how to dress to impress.


The Basics

The first step in this sartorial pursuit is to set the temperature of the iron correctly. Identify the shirt material by examining the tag located along the inside of the collar. Typically, it will indicate that the shirt is all cotton, nylon or a blend of the two. Then, adjust the settings on the iron accordingly. Nothing is more demoralizing to a first time “Iron Man” than starting the process and then noticing that the material is turning brown from too much heat. With that sobering point in mind, the real instruction begins.


The Collar

First, you must iron the collar. A crisp collar can hide a multitude of ironing sins but a shabby one is recognized for the substandard job that it is but it is actually the easiest part of the job. First, check to see if any buttons are undone. This means all of them, not just the collar buttons. It is important that the garment lay flat.

Lastly, place the collar flat upon the board. That is, unfold it along its entire length and iron it out evenly. Next, fold it over into its final position and iron it again. You can almost never iron a collar too much. The collar will undergo a lot of tossing in turning with the next steps so, at the end, give it one final pass with the iron and you will be good to go.


The Back

With the collar properly ironed you can move to the bulk of the shirt. First, you iron the back. This step is mostly easy. Lay the shirt across the board with its bulk hanging off. Then, with the collar secured at the top, tug it from the top of the board towards the bottom. It should catch allowing you to gently stretch the garment.

Now, act like a pro and apply the starch and heat. Lightly spray some starch from a handheld bottle or from the self-contained unit in many modern irons. Then, work your way from the neckline to the waistline and iron out the wrinkles. Use quick even strokes and do not let the hot iron linger on the material for more than a few seconds.

The only difficulty with this portion of the procedure is ironing the small area at the top where there are two creases that meet. With a little practice, it becomes easy. First, iron up, that is, from the bottom of the crease to the collar, then lay the fabric flat and compress and all should be well.


The Sleeves

With that portion of the process accomplished, move on to the sleeves. Here, there is trick that simplifies this part enormously. Before attempting your first ironing, have your shirts dry cleaned and pressed one time. Then, unless, you have been flagrantly disrespectful of your clothes, they will still have a crease mark along the sleeves. This is true even after the clothes have been laundered.

Use this crease to your advantage. Iron, using the pre-existing crease as a guide, the entire length of the sleeve. Chances are, more likely than not, that the gentleman who made this lasting impression upon your shirt was a professional and the crease is in the correct place.


The All Important Front

Lastly, and this is extremely important, you must thoroughly iron the front. Why? I don’t mean why should you iron the front at all. Instead, I mean why should your iron the front of the shirt last? The answer is obvious, love has come to town. Or not.

An inability to properly execute the previous instructions is the real reason. Unless, your ironing skills are superior, when ironing one side, an unintended crease will be formed on the previously ironed side. Utilize every advantage. Since, the front of your shirt is the side that most people will see, iron it last, thus leaving any unsightly creases on the back.

Now, get your act together and execute this particular procedure properly. It is a little more difficult than ironing the back. Start by ironing between the buttons. Take your time and get it right. Then, working your way from neckline to waistline, you should iron the shirt pocket side. Then do the other side. Most people will only scrutinize these areas of the shirt that are ironed last. The rest of the shirt almost becomes irrelevant.


The Result

Now, you can wear your creation, a properly ironed shirt; one that your friends and, more importantly, their female companions will find simply marvelous. As you know, it is better to look good than to feel good. A properly ironed shirt will stand out in a sea of disheveled clothing regardless of who wears it. Don’t forget to complete the picture by shining your shoes and properly attending to your hair.

You will be seated sooner at better tables, given preferential treatment at the bar and bouncers will, more often than not, take your side in an argument. In short, there are reasons byond counting to iron your shirt. Make it a habit in the morning and you find that the sheer Zen of the experience will also heighten your day.


A Final Note

There is one final cautionary note that I should make. Under no circumstances, I repeat, none should you allow it to be known to your female acquaintances that you know how to iron a shirt or you shall surely pay a dreadful price. The next thing you know, you will be doing laundry and folding unmentionables. It is a fate to horrible to contemplate.