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Ironing 101

Updated: Sep 22, 2011 04:03 PM EDT
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By the Editors of Style + Tech For Men
From Style + Tech For Men
 

Question: I don't know how to iron, and I definitely don't want to carry one with me when I travel for business. How can I keep my shirts and slacks looking clean and pressed -- without a dry cleaner?

We admire your throw-caution-and-creased-slacks-to-the-wind attitude, but we can't help but wonder if there's some underlying explanation for your home iron boycott, like a fear of getting burned, perhaps?

Most guys don't want to slap an iron in the old Samsonite and schlep it halfway around the world. But assuming that you don't want to show up for that big meeting looking like you spent the night in a suite in the men's lounge at LAX, it's time to shell out 30 pressed bills and buy an iron and a board -- and to learn how to steam-surf.

When you look like a hot mess, people will assume your life is one too.

If your only experience with ironing is watching your mom press your underoos, you might want to take a few practice runs at home. Turn the heat to the appropriate fabric setting (e.g., cotton, linen) and give it a few minutes to warm up. Then, snuggly fit one shoulder over the narrow end of the board and work in sections, starting with the back side and slowly turning the shirt in a full circle as you iron. Finish with the sleeves flat on the board, and save the collar for last.

With slacks, you need to decide if you want a crease and fold them accordingly, laying the pants flat on the board, doing the back side first, and then flipping over to do the front. Again, use a circular motion to ensure you're covering every inch of fabric with the hot stuff.

On the road, if you actually open your hotel closet door, you'll find an iron and board just waiting to facilitate your wrinkle-busting skills. (If there isn't one, call housekeeping and they'll send one up. If you're a premium patron, they might even do it for you.)


How to Look Good -- Without Using an Iron



When you're at home,
keep your clothes in plastic dry-cleaning bags.

When you're ready to travel, transfer your clothing -- plastic and all -- to a suitcase, laying them as flat as possible. Make sure your suitcase is large enough so the clothes aren't too crowded -- but not so big that they can roll around and wrinkle up. Extra space means extra wrinkles. Better yet? Spring for a garment bag.

When you get to your destination, immediately hang up your clothes. If there are still some wrinkles, crank up the shower to the hottest setting and turn the bathroom into a steam room. When the steam fills the room, hang your clothes on the shower-curtain rod for about 10 minutes. This should smooth out most of the wrinkles. (Note: You can do this at home too.)

For $30 and just a few inches of bag space in your travel sack, the best solution is a handheld steamer, like this Rowenta steambrush. We use it all the time, and it's saved more shoots than you could imagine.

If all this is still too GQ for your boho lifestyle, we love these no-iron shirts  from Brooks Brothers. (They also make a line of no-iron pants.) And if all else fails, you can always drop in on Mom.



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