No matter how well cut a business suit is, it does not look polished or professional without a well-ironed shirt to go with it. Wrinkles make even the most spruced businessperson look sloppy. It is easy to send the shirt to the dry cleaner's, but that gets expensive over time. Plus, all the chemicals used by a typical dry cleaner are not great for the shirt's longevity. Fortunately, ironing is not a difficult skill to master. With the right tools and the technique, ironing a shirt only takes a matter of minutes.
The key to a crisp dress shirt is a high-quality iron. Cheap irons distribute the heat unevenly, and often leave marks or burns on an expensive shirt. To ensure good quality, buyers should look for an iron with base made of a solid steel, steel coated with titanium, or cast iron coated with aluminium. The base should have holes for steam; a good iron can have up to 300 tiny holes. For linen and cotton shirts, which require high heat, the iron should have power of up to 1800 watts.
In addition to a good iron, a professional should invest in an ironing board with a thick pad. When using the ironing board, the buyer should not be able to feel the metal frame through the padding. A spray bottle is the last essential ironing supply.
The ironing process actually starts with the washing. After running the business shirt through the washing machine, it is best to hang it to dry. Although convenient, a dryer is hard on the shirt's fabric. The shirt needs to dry at least partially before ironing, but it is better if it is still slightly damp. If the shirt does dry completely before ironing, the ironer can mist it lightly using water in the spray bottle.
Collar and cuffs
For best results, the ironer should focus on the smallest areas first. Unlike the larger areas, the collar and cuffs are not likely to get wrinkled again while the ironer works on the rest of the shirt. The ironer should flip the collar open to the inside, and place the tip of the iron on the edge, and gently run it over the length of the collar.
After doing the outside, flip the collar right side up, and repeat the process on the outside of the collar. Using the same technique, the ironer should next tackle the cuffs. The cuffs must be unbuttoned for best results. After laying the cuffs flat and inside out, begin by gently running the tip of the iron over the inside. Then, repeat the process on the outside of the cuffs.
Investing a few seconds in smoothing out the shirt front before beginning should pay off. Starting with the side with the buttonholes, the ironer should smooth out all big wrinkles, then run the whole iron firmly over the bottom of the shirt front. Moving up to the top, use the tip of the iron to get in and around the collar. On the side with the buttons, it is best to gently ease the iron in between, rather than over, the buttons. Since they are plastic, the buttons do not stand up well to high heat.
The back is the biggest area to iron, but it is not especially tricky. After laying it out and smoothing out wrinkles, the ironer can run the iron over the bottom of the back. Moving up to the top, ease the tip of the iron around the plackets, and then gently press on top of the plackets.
It is impossible to iron one side of a sleeve without also ironing the back too. It is key, then, to make sure that the back of the sleeve, as well as the front, is wrinkle-free before beginning. Using the tip of the iron, the ironer should gently run the iron from cuff to shoulder, then flip the sleeve over and repeat on the opposite side.
How to buy ironing supplies on eBay
You have to master the technique of ironing a shirt, of course, but even the best technique cannot help you without a good iron and ironing board. If you search thorough the huge inventory on eBay, though, you may be able to get the supplies at a bargain price. Start by typing "Black and Decker iron" or "ironing board" into the search bar, and then scroll through the new and gently used options. With a small investment in these essential tools, you can guarantee a dapper look at the office.