Sunday, October 24, 2021

Ironing out life’s wrinkles

| September 19, 2021 12:00 AM

A few years ago as we were interviewing a prospective young reporter, I couldn’t help but notice the extremely wrinkled shirt he was wearing. In fact, it was all I could focus on. Did he not realize how unprofessional and rumpled he looked?

This lackluster millennial got the job, didn’t stick around long and was off to the West Coast, where he no doubt interviewed for other jobs in the same wrinkled dress shirt.

I know I’m a dinosaur. I’m old enough now that everything I grew up with is old-fashioned, out of style, yesterday’s news. But I’ll never get used to wrinkles, even as a fashion statement. Apparently wrinkles are somewhat in vogue these days.

A May 2019 Washington Post article about ironing by Jura Koncius, noted that “wrinkly cotton shirts and rumpled linen tablecloths are now stylish. No need to iron the family heirloom tablecloth for Thanksgiving dinner.” In fact, a chief executive of Food52, a home and cooking website, told Koncius: “We love tablecloths that have not been ironed and have wrinkles to catch the light and look prettier.”

Two years ago I stayed at what I considered a top-tier hotel chain for a convention, and was utterly shocked when I threw back the bedcovers to discover wrinkled sheets. I wondered if they had accidentally given me a room where the sheets somehow didn’t get changed, but when I consulted with other convention-goers and discovered their sheets looked the same way, I decided it wasn’t a mistake and the hotel probably was cutting corners by not ironing their linens.

This preamble probably has led you to guess that I’m an ironer. I grew up loving the task of ironing. As the only girl in the house with three brothers, and times being what they were, ironing naturally fell to me. And I loved it.

Mom would set out baskets of clothes, often stiff from drying on a clothesline, and it was my job to iron them. I ironed pillow cases, dish towels, handkerchiefs and even Dad’s blue work shirts. I creased pants and smoothed out collars with the greatest of ease. It was soothing work, almost therapeutic, to be alone at the ironing board with only my thoughts to entertain me. It was a glorious respite from the other tasks that were part of farm life.

Times have changed, though, and apparently the solution to wrinkles for most people is to toss their clothes in the dryer for a fluff-up, or if need be they haul their best clothes to a dry cleaner to do the work for them. There are more wrinkle-free fabrics and spray products to “release” the wrinkles. And let’s face it, our clothes of choice these days — yoga pants and T-shirts or fleece — don’t need ironing. Koncius’ article noted, “Casual Fridays have morphed into casual every days.”

Many people have switched from irons to steamers. The Post article cited statistics from the NPD Group, a market research company, noting iron sales, dollar-wise, were down 7% in 2018 from the previous year, but steamer sales were up 19% during the same time-frame.

I guess irons are destined to go the way of typewriters, video cassette players and other products that once seemed indispensable. I’ll still keep ironing, though not as much as I once did. It’s still soothing to me to smooth out life’s wrinkles, literally and figuratively.

News editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 406-758-4421 or