To crease or not to crease, that is the question.
The popularity of natural fabrics and the need to look polished and presentable in certain situations has prompted a resurgence in ironing amongst the general American population. While sheets, dresses, pants, and skirts are finding their way to the ironing board, dress shirts are still one of the most commonly ironed pieces in the country. The methods of ironing these quintessential pieces of a wardrobe are as varied as their color palate, but few aspects of the process remain more controversial than whether to iron a crease into the sleeve or leave it smooth.
Ironing a Crease into a Sleeve is Easier
When ironing a dress shirt sleeve, it is easiest to line up the bottom seam of the sleeve and press it from the seam to the top of the shirt using firm pressure. If the iron is hot enough and the shirt is slightly damp, you will end up with a beautiful crease at the top of the sleeve, opposite of the sleeve’s seam. Many people believe this characteristic makes the shirt appear more formal and apparently the military agrees. Many dress uniforms of the armed forces are permanently creased on the top of the sleeve of the dress shirt.
A Smooth Sleeve is a Work of Art
One of the only ways to have a truly smooth sleeve on a dress shirt is to use a sleeve board. What looks like a miniature ironing board is designed to sit on top of a traditional ironing board and fit inside of a dress shirt sleeve. This allows the iron to press all of the material smooth from the cuff to the shoulder without any tell-tale creases. Some even argue that a sleeve board is the only way to get the transition from the sleeve to the shoulder completely smooth.
While a sleeve crease is strictly a matter of preference, some people argue that ironing a crease into a sleeve limits the life of the shirt. Sure, spending time on any one part of a piece of material increases the likelihood of scorching the fabric, but there is no evidence to suggest that sleeve creases impact the lifespan of dress shirts.
It’s a Matter of Preference
Regardless of whether you prefer a smooth sleeve or one with a crease, the important thing is that you are ironing your shirt, to begin with. As tempting as it may be to have shirts professionally laundered, it is important to note that dry cleaners use industrial washers and dryers as well as large pressing machines. This manufacturer’s take on laundering clothing does not take into account fabric, or color let alone buttons that may be affected by high-heat, high-pressure industrial irons. The best thing you can do for the lifespan of your dress shirts, as well as your appearance, is to launder your shirts on your own and press them using good old fashioned elbow grease.