John Francomb, Creative Director at T M Lewin, demonstrates How to Iron a Shirt and reckons he can do so in about 3 minutes. It’s a really helpful video which has helped me to improve my ironing craft. However, despite ironing since childhood I confess that I have never managed to iron a shirt in 3 minutes.
Where this video falls short in my view is that whilst it makes a reference to starch among the ironing kit one needs, it does not demonstrate the use of starch. Moreover, I’m pretty certain that I’ll never be able to iron and starch a shirt in 3 minutes. But you know what? I can live with that.
If you want to go out for a meal you could go to McDonalds for under a fiver and be served in under 5 minutes. Alternatively, you could go to a nice restaurant where you’d pay £50 for a meal which would take them up to 25 minutes to serve.
Here’s the thing, most people prefer to go to the better restaurant despite the extra cost and the extra time because they get a better service and have a better evening out. We recognise that quality will take time and cost more.
That’s what starch is for; it adds a quality of crispness and smoothness to your shirt that you simply can’t get without it. Sure starching will take more effort and cost you additional time; and if you’ve entertained thoughts about ironing your shirt in under 3 minutes it will make that goal much more difficult, perhaps impossible.
But like the L’Oreal ads tell us, it’s worth it. If you doubt this try ironing one shirt with starch and another without and see whether you can’t immediately tell the difference.
Moreover, a well ironed and starched shirt not only looks better when you put it on, it will look better when you take it off. Starch does not only help to remove wrinkles when ironing; it also helps the shirt to resist wrinkles as it is worn so that you look nearly as smart when leaving work as when you arrived.
In addition, those creases that you do want, like a sharp crease down the sleeve, are made even sharper by using starch.
Finding starch can be tricky. If you shop in a smaller supermarket you may find that they don’t stock it among their laundry selection. In addition, some supermarkets only stock ‘easy iron’ spray. Don’t be taken in by this. If you are going to go to the trouble to starch your shirts you might as well use the real thing.
So if you don’t already have some spray starch in your ironing arsenal you might want to look into it. Serious starch aficionados can even add starch to their laundry so that their cottons are extra crisp when ironed.
In a later post I’ll offer a step-by-step guide to ironing (and starching) your shirt.