Every man should have at least one suit ready to go at all times. Even if you work in a coal mine, the occasions to wear a suit can sneak up on you when you least expect it and that is usually a bad time to try and knock the wrinkles out of an old shirt and pants.
There are many, many different kinds of irons available today. Instead of trying to give instructions about knobs and dials, it’s more effective to give generalized advice about how to use an iron.
Most irons have a steam and/or spray feature that lets you fill them with water so that you can shoot streams of water or puffs of steam out while ironing. These are intended to help knock stubborn wrinkles out of your clothes and can be helpful. If possible, make sure that you’re using water that is as pure as you can find. Any impurities in the water will get left behind inside the iron and that build-up can cause it to fail over time.
If your iron doesn’t have a spray or steam feature, you can still gain the benefit of this technique by sprinkling or spraying water with your fingers or even a squirt gun.
Most irons also have an ability to raise or lower the temperature to make sure that the clothes being ironed have the correct level of heat applied without damaging the material. If you set the temperature too low, you won’t have much effect on the cloth. If you set the temperature too high, you can melt or burn the material. Reading the labels on your clothes and the instruction manual of the iron are the best ways to figure out what temperature to use.
If you insist on trial and error, start with a low setting as it’s better to have to redo the work of running the iron over your clothes than to burn or scorch your clothes.
Most dress pants have seams that run down the inside and the outside of the legs. Using these seams as a guide will make the work of ironing your pants very easy. When you iron your pants, you should do one leg at a time, but the process for each leg is the same.
Before getting into the instruction, we should define some terms that are going to be used:
Hold the pants by the cuff of one leg so that the inside and outside seams are touching. Almost like you were closing a zipper on a plastic baggie, run your other hand along the two seams until you get close to the crotch of the pants and lay them on the ironing board. Your goal here is to get the seams to line up as high up the leg as you can manage. This will get the front and back part of the pant leg to rest as evenly as possible making ironing that much easier.
While ironing your pants, you’ll be running the iron over two layers of cloth and while you can visually ensure that top side is free of wrinkles, you should also take care to ensure that the underside is also wrinkle-free. Running the iron over a wrinkle will turn the wrinkle into a crease and make it harder to smooth out later.
Once you have the inside and outside seams lined up on the ironing board, hold it in place with one hand and take the iron in the other hand. Starting at the crotch, place the face of the iron on the pants next to the seam and push out away from the seam. This should create a crease in what is either the front or back side of the pants depending on which side of the seam you started on.
Work your way down and continue this pattern until you have run the face of the iron over the entire length of the leg on both the front and back side of the seam. This should create a crease on the front and back of each pant leg that runs from the about the level of the crotch down to the cuff of the pants.
Once you have one leg finished, do the same to the other leg. When you are done, you can iron out any creases in the seat of the pants by sliding the pants over one end of the ironing board so that there is only one layer of cloth coming in contact with the iron.
The principals of ironing a shirt are similar to those of ironing your pants. The major differences are that with the pants, you’re effort is focused mainly on the legs which have two layers of cloth, the shirt is composed mainly of torso which is only one layer of cloth and you don’t crease the arms of the shirt.
Apply the same technique of lining up seams that you used for the legs of the pants to the arms of the shirt. Some shirt sleeves are curved so it’s easier to have wrinkles form in the under side. If the shirt sleeves have only one seam, you should aim to create a crease on the opposite side of the sleeve from the seam. If your sleeves have two seams, then you only need to reinforce them and smooth out the cloth.
The torso of the shirt is much easier to iron. Open the shirt up so that large sections of torso material lay flat on the ironing board and simply run the iron over those sections. Once you’ve removed all the wrinkles, turn the shirt so that an un-ironed section of cloth is on the board and repeat the process. Continue until you’ve ironed out all the wrinkles from the torso of the shirt. There should be no wrinkles or creases in the torso of the shirt.
Hanging It Up
After putting in the time and effort of ironing your shirt and pants, it’s important to store it in a safe place where you can prevent it from getting wrinkled. To hang your pants, line up both legs so that both inside and outside seams form a single flattened stack. The creases that you formed into the pant legs should form the sides of the stack. If your hanger has clips, attach theses clips to the cuffs of the pants so that the waistband hangs down. If your hanger doesn’t have clips, run the pant legs over the crossbar of the hanger so that the leg creases are reinforced while the pants are hanging.
With the pants hung, open up your shirt and drape it over the hanger and the pants so that both are on the same hanger. Keeping them together will make it easier to keep track of and use when the time comes.
Finally, put the hanger in a closet so that the other things in the closet don’t wrinkle your freshly pressed shirt and pants.