Perfectly Pressed Is Over Dressed
Wrinkles are a part of life, and smoothing them out is simply one chore too many
And no, I am not referring to my face or my neck or any part of my nearly 60-year-old physique.
My wrinkles are in my clothes, not my skin. And if it means an intervention with the ironing board and steam iron to make them go away, I am at peace with my wrinkles. They are just all right with me.
This is not new. I am not suddenly lazy.
Yes, I do long for the glory days in the ‘70s of Qiana fabrics, wrinkle-resistant polyester, and those highly flammable pants that — no matter what —- never, ever showed a crease. I could practically roll around on the floor and still look neat. Crisp, rigid and starched is not my look or a reflection of my personality. I do not want to look or feel “pressed.”
I will most assuredly not iron napkins, which is why I watch reruns of “Downton Abbey” in astonished disbelief at how much time the staff spent pressing linens. And yes, even the newspaper. Every day.
My no-iron solution is to wear mostly knits and any style of clothing that can endure an hour or so in the dryer on hot. For work and special outings, I wear outfits I can hand wash and dry flat, smoothing them out on a wide surface to dry wrinkle-free. Maybe in a pinch I will take my jackets and silk blouses to the dry cleaners. That way, George — my favorite dry cleaner of all time, with a wide smile and a deep, visceral connection to the wardrobe of my life — can take out the stains and the wrinkles, too.
I don’t know why I hate ironing so much. Maybe it is due to the fact that, growing up, my mother gave my three sisters and me each a rotating week of family ironing.
A family of eight. Six with uniforms. Mostly it was shirts for my brothers, white blouses for my sisters, and now and then a tablecloth or two.
Some mothers in the neighborhood reportedly also ironed the boxing shorts of their husbands, and some families had ironed sheets. Not us. But we did have ironed dinner napkins and ironed placemats. And occasionally my mom would iron the kitchen curtains after a wash. I considered that an over-reach.
Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, if I knew it was my ironing week, I would stare at the ironing basket with dread and disdain, understanding that I had to finish the ironing on time or risk a grounding or a reduced allowance.
Not even having the ironing board located in the basement near the console record player and piles of albums and 45 records of The Monkees, The Beatles and The Dave Clark 5 made the hours of ironing go any more smoothly. The later addition of a small black-and-white TV just feet from the ironing board didn’t even improve my mood.
My oldest sister, Mary Pat, on the contrary, loved to iron. Still does. It made her giddy. Sometimes she would volunteer to take my week and swap a chore with me. Because unlike her, I did not mind changing the sheets on all the beds.
I could see that Mary Pat relished the transformational element inherent in ironing — a sluggish pile magically turned into a neatly hung line of blouses and shirts, arms starched and smooth, destined for applause and approval.
I travel often for work and sometimes after I arrive at a hotel and pull out my wardrobe, I see that even though I packed the dress or jacket in plastic, it is a wrinkly mess. To remedy that, I hang the garment on the far end of the shower curtain rod, turn the shower on hot, shut the door and pray that the steam will melt away the wrinkles. Sometimes it works.
Maybe one out of five times, I am shamed into pulling out the tiny tabletop ironing board and getting to work. And I admit, it doesn’t take all that long and I do end up looking better for the effort. Still, it’s not enough to get me to iron at home more than once a year.
My three sons, on the other hand, learned to iron early on because I didn’t volunteer to iron and they liked the look of starched shirts. Expecting me to iron was akin to expecting me to cut the crusts off their bread.
So lately when my sons are home for a few days, they go down to the basement and iron their own shirts and pants.
I guess the willingness to embrace being wrinkly skips a generation.Edit Module