Dry-Cleaning and Doing Your Own Dress Shirts

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riffjim4069

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I have been taking my dress shirts in for dry-cleaning for the past 30-years. I can't say that I have minded since I typically only dawn the dress shirt, tie and perhaps suit once or twice per week since I work with engineering types. I usually replaced my dress shirts (get tired of them) before they wore out. However, for the past few months I have working at a headquarters office where a suit and tie are the uniform of the day. I don't mind the shirt and tie, but I have grown to dislike having to run by the cleaners every week...and I really got tired of how they pressed wrinkles into my shirts (always had to retouch them) and how quickly the shirts were falling apart.

Well, I finally listened to my mom (she has been telling me to do my own shirts for many years) and I picked-up a gaggle of new wrinke-free shirts (most were from JCPenney and a couple from Costco) and started washing them myself. What a freaking difference! My shirts come out fresh and clean, will last for years-and-years (according to my mom), and it saves me both time and money from having to deal with the cleaners.

Okay, you cannot go wrong with the Stafford Signature 100% Cotton wrinkle-free dress shirts from JcPenney (my opinion). They are $30 per and are simply the best bang-for-the-buck...just as good as $50-$60 premium shirts IMO. I picked-up a couple of the Kirkland Signature 100% Cotton wrinkle-free shirts from Costco for $17.99. Okay, they aren't bad (I usally like the Kirkland Signature brand) but do yourself a favor and spend a few more dollars on on Stafford Signature shirts...well worth it. Also, the wrinkle-free is somewhat of a misnomer since they'll have to re-touched with an iron. However, it only takes a few minutes per shirt and it actually takes less time than having to unscrew all the wrinkles the cleaners manages to press into my shirts. Plus---and here's the kicker---your shirts will last for years and stay fresh looking.

I don't know about the top-loading washing machines w/agitator (although my mom still uses one and she doesn't have any problems) but we have an top-notch Samsung front-loader w/matching dryer and the shirts looks great. Anyway, if you find yourself in a similar position...dump the dry-cleaner and start doing your own dress shirts. Of course, if only I could get my wife to iron then I would be all set. She is one of those fortunate people who can throw on something right from the dryer and the wrinkles magically disappear or else you don't notice. I'm one of the 95% who aren't so lucky!

Anyway, I thought that I would throw this topic out there and see what comes back. I cannot believe that I haven't done my own dress shirts sooner...
 

Skyhi

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Good thread.

I'll plug LL Bean and Lands End wrinkle-free shirts and touching up with a clothes steamer.
 

riffjim4069

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My dad would certainily endorse the Lands End wrinkle-free shirts; he loves 'em. Also, I try to wear each shirt twice before washing them...which is normally not a problem. I've never used a steamer, but perhaps I'll give it a try. Thanks!
 

markfp-1

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The Lands End wrinkle free shirts are really good. My wife and I went on a tour of the Canadian Rockies for ten days recently and even after packing and unpacking almost every day, and wearing the shirts more than once they looked great.
 

riffjim4069

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Here's the Consumer Reports Magazine article on "no iron" or "wrinkle free" men's dress shirts. Take it for what it's worth since the article in two years old and I lost a lot of faith in ConsumerReports in recent years: Wrinkle free dress shirts: Consumer Reports

Best choice
- JCPenney Stafford Signature, $25 - It looked smooth right out of the dryer and has an interesting detail: a gusset on the tail to prevent seams from separating when pulled.

OK choices
- Lands' End Pinpoint Oxford, $40 - It needed a bit of ironing but had no construction flaws.
- Croft & Barrow (Kohl's), $30 - The shirt was fuzzy after its fifth trip through the washer and dryer. That can foretell pilling.
- Macy's Club Room, $30 - The laundered shirt was wrinkle free, but one of the shirts had lots of white dots, indicating thread breaks or weaving flaws. That usually doesn't affect fabric strength, but the dots might turn into tiny holes after many care cycles.

Worst choice
- Kirkland Signature (Costco), $17 - Two of shirts we examined had stitching problems that could have sent them to the rag pile before their time, and one buttonhole was overstitched and looked more like a parallelogram than a rectangle.

Okay, the Stafford Signature shirts are now $30. I've had no problem with these shirts...but I wish they had a little more variety. My dad (and a number of folks here) love the Lands' End shirts. They are now about $50, but they appear to offer more variety than the JCPenney brand. I do not like the Croft & Barrow (Kohl's) shirt nor does my dad. They appear to be in the $32.50 range. As far as Macy's shirt...my Dad buys them from time-to-time and my mom hasn't noticed the quality problems noted by Consumer Reports. Finally, I have few of the Kirkland Signature shirts. I haven't noticed the quality problems mentioned in the article (Costco may have taken action to resolve these issues)...however, they are not as "wrinkle free" as the Stafford Signature shirts. At $18 they're a bargain...but I just as soon spend a few more dollars and save a couple minutes ironing each shirt. My choice.

My choices: Stafford Signature and Lands End Supima Oxford/Pinpoint (excellent selection)
Okay: Kirkland Signature (Costco)
Avoid: Croft & Barrow (Kohl's)
 

riffjim4069

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5 Best No Iron Dress Shirts

This appears to be a pretty good list based on the folks I talked to. However, I'm a "value conscious" consumer and I don't think Brooks Brother or L.L. Beans shirts are worth the additional money (3x the price) over a Stafford Signature.

Source

Are you wondering what the 5 best no-iron dress shirts are? While there are a lot of no-iron dress shirt brands available, price is not an indicator of which will hold up the best. Some no-iron dress shirts will hold up better simply due to the treatment of the fabric.

Brooks Brothers. Traditional, regular or slim-fit shirts from Brooks Brothers are made of pure cotton and are treated to hold up throughout the day without a wrinkle. Brooks Brothers no-iron dress shirts come in solids, stripes or plaids. Wearers rated these as one of the best shirts to remain wrinkle-free.

Lands' End. Lands' End guarantees their no-iron dress shirts will remain wrinkle-free, yet the crisp pleats will remain pressed for 25 washes on the tailored cut shirts, and 50 washes on the traditional cuts. The Lands' End line is pure cotton fiber on both the tailored and traditional cut shirts and comes in a wide array of colors.

L.L. Bean. Seems everyone is in agreement on the L.L. Bean wrinkle-resistant no-iron dress shirts. They develop no wrinkles, are a great fit and are comfortable. L.L. Bean has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their no-wrinkle dress shirts. They come available in long and short sleeve and in cotton or twill fabric. Many great patterns and colors are available.

Stafford. The Stafford Performance Wrinkle Free no-iron dress shirts are getting rave reviews. The Stafford Wrinkle Free shirts are available at a middle-of-the-road price in lots of great colors and patterns.

Red House. Red House's no-iron button-down shirts made of cotton are also getting excellent reviews from men. Red House's patterns and pinpoint Oxford dress shirts are made of 100% cotton with a breast pocket.
 

lakebum431

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I will never buy another Brooks Brothers shirt. I bought 5 of these about a year and a half ago and every single one of them had "blowouts" at the elbow. These were the proper size and always washed at home. These are the ONLY shirts that I have ever had this issue with and I wear dress shirts every day (M-F). After the first 2 did this I did a google search and discovered that this is a "known issue" with BB shirts. I took the final 3 back when they had the issue and was able to talk them into replacing them, but since then all 3 of the replacements have done the same thing. I didn't bother taking back this time. One of my co-workers had the exact same issue later in the year.

I love the LL Bean shirts. They are very high quality (I think much better than the JCP brand) and last forever! They will also take anything back if you ever do have an issue.
 

riffjim4069

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Great info on Brooks Brothers LB! After reading your post I recalled that my Dad was a big fan of Brooks Brothers, but I haven't heard him mention them in years. Well, as it turned out he had a number of BB shirts fall apart. My mom told him it was the shirts, but dad didn't warmly embrace her suggestion. Needless to say, my mom decided that if anyone bought another "crappy sh*t"...they were going to wash and press them. Problem solved. I personally don't have any experiences with BB shirts, but I wanted to add my two cents.

I really like the Stafford Signature shirts, but their selection is disappointing. Seriously, just how many times can you wear white, oxford blue and a couple pin-stripe shirts? They offer their cheapie shirts in a wide variety of colors...but who wants a cheapie shirt. Anyway, I ordered three Lands End shirts the other day because I wanted to add some color to my wardrobe...might be siting on the porch as I swype.

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riffjim4069

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lakebum431 said:
I love the LL Bean shirts. They are very high quality (I think much better than the JCP brand) and last forever! They will also take anything back if you ever do have an issue.

That's a great selling point. I'm general pretty thrifty, but sometimes it cost less (long-run) to buy the more expensive item.

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One thing I can add here - I think many/most "dry cleaners" actually launder the shirts. You might want to ask next time you're there. I found that out locally some years ago when it cost about $1.50 per for cleaning and "pressing" which I guess is actually ironing. (I believe that's how/when they apply starch to your collars if you ask for it.) So I figured I could get a similar result at home for less $$, and that's exactly what I learned by trying! To this day unless I'm traveling and need a quick cleaning I do not send dress shirts to the cleaners. I just launder them and hang them to dry. Now with my front-load washer, they're nearly dry when they come out anyway.

When I needed better shirts than I wear now, JCPenney's Stafford was high on my list as well. I'm sure I still have a couple in the closet!
 

mogera

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My two cents. I HIGHLY recommend Eddie Bauer's wrinkle free shirts. I too travel often and these babies wear well and look good. Like L.L. Bean if you have a problem at any time, just bring 'em back and they'll do right by you!
 

HD MM

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I actually recently replaced my entire wardrobe of work shirts with Brooks Brothers slim-fit non-iron dress shirts. I've tried several brands and these work the best for me. I love the fit too. A lot of dress shirts are real "blousey" when tucked in. Way too much fabric! Not these slim fits though. And I'm not skinny by anymeans. (6'4", 200lbs). It's just a nice neat look.

And the wrinkle free technology absolutely work as advertised as long as you take them out of the dryer when they're done. Saves me a TON of time!
 

lakebum431

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Come back in 6 months when you don't have any elbows left in the sleeves. ;)

The google results for brooks brothers elbow rib are amazing...
 

riffjim4069

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lakebum431 said:
Come back in 6 months when you don't have any elbows left in the sleeves. ;)

The google results for brooks brothers elbow rib are amazing...

I'll be interested in hearing if these "quality" issues have been resolved.

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riffjim4069

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Reviving this thread for two reasons:

First, I'm happy to report that all my Stafford Signature (JC Penney) and Kirkland Signature (Costco) are wearing well...they look brand new and I wear these dress shirts almost every work day. I've only worn the Lands End shirts a couple times (more colorful varieties) and don't have any problems with them. Initially, I was somewhat hesitant about buying the Kirkland shirts due to quality problems I read on the Internet. However, those postings were a couple years old and Costco must have corrected the quality problems because I haven't seen "button hole" or "stitching" issues on any of their shirts. For $17 you really can't go wrong with these shirts...and they've added a lot more styles/patterns over the summer.

Seconds, I'm having something of a T-Shirt dilemma. I bought several t-shirt...oh, about 8-10 years ago and over the past couple years they are finally pulling a Patsy Cline (i.e., falling to pieces). For the record, I have never liked any of the name brands such as Fruit of the Tomb, Hanes, Jockey, etc. While I love the feel of cotton on my skin, I can't seem to find one that fits properly due to the George Costanza effect (i.e., shrinkage) along with the fact they simply don't hug your body like I feel they should. My dress shirts appropriately hang loose away from the body, but I want my T-shirts to feel as though I were being snuggled under the covers by my wife on a cool-crisp morning. I don't "Feel the Love" with any of the 100% cotton T-shirts.

Years ago I purchased several Towncraft 50/50 (polyester/cotten) T-shirts from JC Penney to wear under my military uniforms. My last purchase was about 8-years ago since these things wear a long, long time. They were not only soft like cotton, they were also extremely lightweight and somewhat elastic, so they adapted to my form and not vice-versa. And they certainly didn't shrink. Plus, they were extremely durable. They were the only T-shirt I would wear. Anyway, imagine my dismay when I went into JC Penney over the weekend and could not locate my T-shirts. Just like with the JC Penney Executive suit (made by Hartmarx), they no longer carried this brand...and it appears that Towncraft no longer makes this T-shirt. :(

Well, I would up purchasing a six-pack of 100% Kirkland T-shirts from Costo and, after washing them, I hate them...hate them...hate them...hate them. Okay, perhaps hate is a strong word...but I dislike them just as much as the name brands. I went online and it's impossible to find them. However, I did find a group of disgrunted Towncraft 50/50 customers who have been on a quest to find them and/or a suitable replacement. All I can say is that if you've never worn these T-shirt then you don't know what you're missing. If you have, then you will understand why some men are still in "Search of the Holy Grail" for these things. They were awsome.

Anyway, I'm looking for suggestions. They must be:

1. Cool comfortable cotton feel.
2. 50/50 blend with some form fitting elasticity.
3. I had the crew necks (military thing) but V-neck is fine.

Thanks!

Ask Tug: The quest for the Towncraft Undershirts begins | Undershirt Guy Blog
 

riffjim4069

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Just an update on the infamous 'Wrinkle-Free' dress shirt. The JC Penney shirts are getting a little old and I'm going to remove them from service...well, turn them into cleaning rags. I have no interest in replacing them another JC Penney branded shirt because, just like with their Stafford suit line, the quality of their dress shirts has gone to hell the past couple years. There is officially no reason for me to ever step foot inside another JC Penney store. But that's another topic of discussion to be led by Bob. Additionally, the Costco shirts (and I've added several over the past 2-years) are wearing well, but I'm having a few issues - most of them center around fit.

1. I dropped 22 lbs. after my knee replacement surgery and I don't think the Kirkland Signature shirts flatter my manly figure. Yes, the label says they "Tailored Fit" but I still have way, way, way too much material around my waist. The same goes for many of the other shirts I have in the closet. I'm not a small guy, but I'm also not a big nor tall guy. I'm I'm 5'11" and 202 lbs. Sure, I'm a few pounds heavy, but I have a 46" chest and 36" waist. Even the "Tailored fit" shirts appear to be made for some fat-a@@ with a tiny chest, droopy shoulders, and pendulous belly. There's just too much material around the midsection, which makes it also buckle a bit in the front. Plus, the shirts that fit me around the neck and chest appear to be made for someone a few inches taller. Oh, and the sleves are always kind of baggy around the elbows (I don't like it) Ugh!

2. I'm getting ready to drop 14-15 lbs. over the next couple months in time for the beach. Although it has been a few years, I measure 46" check and 34/35 waist" at 186-188, and I have no reason to doubt this once again being true given my training program.

I guess the bottom line is that the Iron-Free/Wrinkle-Free 'Tailored Fit' shirts aren't what I consider to be tailored fit...and 'Slit Fit' my experience, is that they fit well in the waiste, but they are way too fight in the shoulders and triceps area. Ugh! I suppose that I will need to look at Athletic Fit. The problem is that I cannot find anyone who makes a quality Athletic Fit iron-free shirt that doesn't cost an arm and/or a leg. Does anyone have any recommendations?
 

navychop

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Try Jos A Banks. Always have sales, and I'm very happy withe the clothes I've bought there.

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