Thursday, February 2, 2012
According to Stu Bloom at RAVE FabriCare, about 80% of men get their shirts back from the laundry on hangers, and this is certainly the wisest course since they are free of the creases that come from having them folded. The challenge with the practice comes when it is time to pack for a trip, and the shirts must be folded anyway.
The usual way to prepare shirts for packing is to fold them in thirds, replicating the commercial laundry folding machine (see the shirt on the right in the photo). Whoever designed that machine was apparently not very clothes conscious as that fold leaves the vertical and horizontal creases it imparts placed so that they can be visible under a jacket, which might not be a terrible thing with some cloth as it will hang out in an hour or two but heavier shirtings like oxfords and twills can remain creased for much of the day, contributing to a messier look than a man ought to aspire to (here we deliberately ignore no-iron shirts on the grounds that the well dressed man eschews them).
Now, it is only natural that a man would assume that folding meant visible creases and that there is nothing to be done about it, at least until like me he noticed that RAVE's clean by mail shirts are folded so that any creases that might occur in parts of the shirt front are not visible when a man has his jacket on (the shirt on the left was folded by RAVE). The secret is to fold the shirt in half rather than in thirds. In other words, when the shirt is on its front laid out for folding, turn the sleeve sides over only a quarter of the way, leaving a space between them. Then fold the bottom up so the shirt is roughly halved into a square. Leaving all the folds loose will also help the shirt's appearance, but only marginally as the state of being packed will inevitably press it to a certain extent.
I will be the first to admit that the square shirt fold is fairly obscure advice, and has the downside that otherwise useful suitcase accessories like Eagle Creek's folders and cubes seem to all be designed to accommodate shirts folded into thirds. Nonetheless, a supply of heavy duty polyethylene bags makes for a reasonable substitute and having a supply of pressed looking shirts when one unpacks is worth a little one-time trouble.