Pressing needs

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Make ironing a thing of the past with a low-maintenance wardrobe.

Orvis crinkle tunicI love my clothes but I love my free time more, so some years ago, I set about making my wardrobe a no-iron zone.

I don’t manage it all the time, of course. I have legacy clothes that do need a bit of maintenance, but for 5-6 years, I’ve made a point of never buying anything that needs either ironing or dry-cleaning. Apart from anything else, it saves a fortune in bills, as well as being more eco-friendly. These days, I iron only when dressmaking.

The key thing is fabric. If you want to avoid ironing, in winter, choose from these: denim; other twill-weave fabrics (creases drop straight out); knitwear; cotton or viscose jersey, preferably with a few percent of stretch; flannel; brushed cotton; polar fleece; microfibre; added Lycra in all fabrics, from suiting to jeans, leathers and suedes. 

In summer, choose permanent press cotton; crinkle fabrics; textured cottons; scrunch fabrics; pleats-please; seersucker; nylon and knitwear.

Orivis Crinkle shirtOrvis (left and right) does a fab range of clothing in ‘scrunch’ fabric that needs no ironing (and very little drying time either). It’s based on viscose, polyester and elasthane. Take a look, too, at their ‘travel’ and ‘crinkle’ ranges for more low-maintenance ideas. 

If you have to wear formal clothing or suiting for work, choose something such as cool-wool, or a woolmix with lycra and go for a crepe or gabardine weave, where the creases drop out. Avoid wool flannels, which pick up hair, and cheap, lightweight viscose, where the creases set instantly. I once had two beautiful suits from Dorothy Perkins in viscose, but by the time I got to work, it looked like I’d slept in them.


Dry your clothes outdoors, on a clothesline – the movement of the wind makes creases drop straight out (and what could be more eco than wind and solar power?). 

If you have to dry clothes indoors, hang them damp, on plastic hangers, and you may find they don’t need tumble-drying at all. If you do tumble-dry, set it to cool and take the clothes out while they’re still damp, then hang them – don’t dry them completely (this only sets creases in place). 

The old ‘steamy bathroom’ trick works well, as does spraying a creased fabric with water and passing it over a hot hairdryer. 

If you’re wearing a shirt at work under a suit jacket or knitwear, only do the collar, cuffs and front – the rest of the creases will drop out before you get to work.

Hang your shirts rather than folding them, to reduce creases. 

Avoid fiddly bits such as beading, embroidery and broderie anglaise etc, except on knits. 


If you’ve got ironable fabric clothing, such as linen or silk, try broomsticking it. While it’s wet, pleat it as finely as you can, then take one end and stand on it, and take the other end and begin twisting. Twist it until it twists back on itself into a tiny little ball, then secure it with elastic bands and dry it on the line or in a tumble dryer – it might take several days to get a linen dress dry, but the creases will remain until the next time it’s washed, which avoids you having to iron it every time you wear it. You can do something like a linen blouse by treating the sleeves and body sections separately. 


If you do have to do the dreaded ironing, two way to make it easier are a: watch telly or listen to the radio while you’re doing it and b: do it sitting down. Walking is good for you, but standing for long periods leaning over an ironing board certainly isn’t.  Ironing while sitting takes longer but you feel it less.

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