You probably make sure that your shirt isn't wrinkled when you leave the house, but how often do you check how your pants look? Wrinkles may be harder to see in pants, especially dark pants, but in the light, it will be clear that you haven't prepared yourself properly for the day. Here's what you need to know about how to iron dress pants and what you can do to iron less often.
1. Set the Stage
Before you begin ironing, be sure that both your iron and your pants are clean. Set up your ironing table and be sure that you have enough room to stretch out the pant leg. You will need to bunch the pants a little bit as you work, but the more space you have, the better.
Be sure that the iron you choose has a more narrow, pointed tip to help you do detail work, especially between buttons. Adjust the settings of your iron depending on the type of pants. Wool pants need a lower setting than cotton does, and linen can handle an even higher setting than cotton.
In general, you want to go with the lowest setting that will be functional to avoid doing damage to the pants. You also don't want to hold the iron in place longer than you should because the iron isn’t hot enough.
Tools to Help You Iron
Distilled Water to Avoid White Specks
It's best to fill your iron with distilled water. Most tap water is hard enough to cause limescale to collect in the iron. If you think you don't care about limescale on your iron, you'll find you change your mind when little white specks and flakes come out of the steam and get all over your pants.
While they can be brushed off, this is an added step, and you might not get them all off of darker pants.
Another great option is to choose dark, wrinkle-free pants to start with so you won’t have to worry about ironing, distilled water, or white specks in the first place!
Tailor’s Ham for the Details
A Tailor's ham is an extremely convenient tool to have available when you are ironing your pants. It makes ironing the upper section of the pants much easier and more effective. Instead of working on a flat surface, you can contour the pants’ shape as though you were wearing them.
Pressing Cloth for Wool
If you are ironing wool trousers, it is best to use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron. This is a simple solution to the concern of shining the wool, i.e. creating an unattractive sheen on the fabric.
Even when you are using a pressing cloth, be careful to never drag the iron along the fabric, as this is how the wool ends up being shined. A pressing cloth isn't generally needed for any other kind of pant fabric besides wool.
The Tailors Clapper is used to provide a crisp, clean line when you are putting a crease into your pants’ legs. While it isn't necessary, it can help to provide a very sharp line without you having to iron as much, which is gentler on the fabric.
2. Iron the Upper Part of the Pants
When you’re ironing pants, your experience at the beginning will be much like ironing a shirt. You will use short, brief strokes to smooth out wrinkles around the pockets, seams, and hem. A Tailor's Ham to contour the pants around makes it much easier for you to iron out this part of the pants.
Remember to iron with small movements, pressing and lifting, not dragging. If you catch the iron on any of the pants’ details, it could pull and create more wrinkles instead of fewer ones. Ironing out wrinkles that have been ironed in is a challenge.
Pants with belt loops present a special challenge, but you can get between them and iron efficiently using the tip of the iron. Be very careful not to snag the tip of the iron in the belt loop.
3. Crease the Legs
Usually, the goal when you are ironing your pant legs is to create a clean, sharp crease that gives your pants that just-ironed look. Both the front and the back of your pants should be creased.
Less formal pants may have flat fronts, but more formal dress pants are nearly always done with a crease in the back and the front. If you're unsure whether your pants should have a crease or not, consider whether they had a crease when you bought them.
The crease should be centered perfectly in the middle of the leg, and should line up with the previous crease. Wool dress pants tend to maintain their crease through washing. Cotton dress pants may be more likely to have a crease fade. In these cases, it is generally best to completely iron out the existing crease and create a flat leg from which you can create a new crease.
To find the crease, find the top and bottom seam on the inside of one leg of the pant. When the seams are pressed together, the fold should lay down the center of the leg. Once you find the crease, start as high up in the waist as you want the crease to go.
Most men prefer the crease to start about a foot and a half below the waist. Gently iron in the crease, being very careful not to drag the iron along the fabric. If you want to use a Tailor’s Clapper to provide a very sharp line, use it at this time.
Sound Too Tedious? Consider Wrinkle-Free Pants!
If all of this ironing seems like an awful lot of work, pants that you don't have to iron are a pretty good alternative. Quality non-iron pants let you look great right from the closet, without having to worry about ironing.
In today’s busy business world when every second counts, skipping ironing is a big deal and a huge time saver that lets you put your productivity to better use. Perhaps more importantly, wrinkle-free pants won’t get wrinkled throughout the day like regular pants, keeping that collected, professional look lasting all day long.