Tumble-Drying Clothes to Adjust their Fit

I should start by saying that 99.99% of my wardrobe items never see the inside of a tumble dryer. Not even panties, loungewear, yoga wear, sleepwear, and especially not bras. I tumble-dry my socks and camisoles, and that’s it. The rest is hung dry in an empty closet or sent to eco-friendly cleaners. That’s because I believe that tumble-drying ruins the fit of your clothes, tortures delicate fibres, wears out fabric, makes the colour fade, and takes the polished and crisp integrity out of them. So I go to the effort of hang drying and ironing as needed. It’s extra effort and time, but worth it to me.

That said, every once in a while I carefully use the tumble dryer to deliberately adjust the fit of my clothes. I don’t recommend this strategy unless you’re prepared to take a risk, but I haven’t had any disasters yet. Here are two recent examples.

The first is a pair of Carpenter Straight Leg Jeans (see them in action here). They are the perfect length for my white Western shooties, but a little long for short-shaft Chelsea boots. I thought about having them shortened about half an inch because I am that pedantic about the lengths of things. Instead of having them altered I decided to shrink the length with the dryer. First I washed the jeans and hung dried them in the closet till they were almost dry. I then popped them in the dryer for ten minutes on regular heat. Afterwards, I pressed them to look pristine. They successfully shrunk half an inch in the length, and not at all in the width. I thought this might happen because they are 100% cotton woven fabric and very thick, stiff denim. Stretchy, soft and thin denim tends to shrink all over (and bag out later). Now the length is perfect to wear with my shooties, low-shaft Chelsea booties AND my hi-top sneakers for that matter (see the exact boot styles below). 

I’ve worn the jeans several times post the tumble dry, and they’re currently my favourite jeans. I will NOT be putting them in the tumble dryer again.

The second example is a lovely oatmeal surface interest knit top that I bought in the Netherlands a few months ago. It fits very fluidly, and I semi-tuck for more structure. I thought I’d be a devil and tumble dry it to create a snugger fit. First I washed the top and hung dried it in the closet till it was almost dry. I popped it in the dryer for ten minutes on regular heat. There was no need to iron it since it’s a crease-resistant top. It shrunk all over to exactly the fit I wanted, which was more luck than wisdom. Knits shrink in the dryer when they have a high cotton content, but they can often shrink too much in one direction. I love that the fit across the armholes, shoulders and sleeve width is narrower after the tumble dry. The top is still quite fluid, but less so. It’s also shorter and a better match for my new capsule of jeans with high rises. The top has retained its new fit after a couple of wears. I will NOT be putting it in the tumble dryer again.

Over to you. Have you ever deliberately shrunk clothing items in the tumble dryer? And was it successful?

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How to Iron Your Clothes Less

How to Iron Your Clothes Less - Tips to Avoid Ironing Your WorkwearEven if your least favorite chore is washing dishes or cleaning the house, it’s a good bet that you’d also love to iron your clothes less. (Or maybe ironing is your least favorite chore!) It’s been years since we’ve talked about this — although we’ve more recently discussed how to keep white blouses white, how to wash “dry clean only” clothes, and how to care for your bras — so today we’re sharing reader advice on how to iron your clothes less. Buying shirts marketed as “no-iron” is always an option, of course, but we’ll go beyond that today (and with their safety issues in mind, those shirts probably warrant their own post — what do you think?). What are your favorite ways to avoid ironing? Do you buy non-iron blouses for work? (And as winter clothes finally start to come out of storage, do you think there are bigger gaffes for workwear than wrinkled clothes, such as creases from folds in sweaters, or a cedar scent?)

Here’s advice from readers on how to iron your clothes less (mostly from our last discussion on how to avoid ironing, many moons ago):

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  1. Hang up your clothes immediately after taking them out of the dryer. Another reader pointed out that after you wash clothes made from fabrics you can’t tumble dry, you should flap them around a bit before putting them on a drying rack. Related: Do you strictly follow label directions that advise “lay flat to dry” vs. “hang dry,” or just put everything on drying racks?
  2. Get a clothes steamer. One reader who bought a steamer on Amazon says it allows her to avoid ironing knits and other workwear items, although she doesn’t advise using it on tailored button-front shirts. (This $ 26 steamer looks great!) Another said that she uses one on her suits (and notes that she always hangs up her suits after wearing). Wirecutter recently shared their picks for the best steamers, and two recommendations from readers are the Esteam Personal Hand Held Steamer ($ 75) and Steamfast SF-407 ($ 50) [affiliate links].
  3. Try throwing wrinkled clothes in the dryer for a few minutes. One reader says that a 10-minute spin in the dryer works well for smoothing out t-shirts, sweaters, dress pants, and non-iron shirts. She adds a wet towel as needed, while a reader who replied said that she uses a handful of water. (Another said this trick removes pet hair, too.) My dryer even has a “Freshen Up” setting that I assume is designed for this, although I haven’t tried it.
  4. Use Downy Wrinkle Releaser (or a similar product). Amazon sells a 2-pack of 33.8-oz. sprayer bottles (almost 1,000 reviews) for $ 13.24 and also has a pack of 3 travel-size bottles for $ 7.97 [affiliate links]. One reader recommended a cheaper and more natural option: Put the item of clothing on a hanger and use a spray bottle filled with water.
  5. Make sure to use fabric softener when you wash clothes. But according to Good Housekeeping, don’t use it on microfiber, sportswear, towels, water-repellent clothing, or flame-resistant clothing. (Fortunately, your workwear wardrobe probably doesn’t include those things — and if it does, you must have a really interesting job.)
  6. Hang your suit, dress, etc., in the bathroom while you shower. Now if you brush your teeth in the shower too, you’ll really be multitasking! (No, don’t do that. Who wants to rinse their mouth out with warm water?)
  7. Be a clothes-folding minimalist. One reader said that she reduces the creases in her shirts by only folding them once — in half vertically, down the middle of the shirt.

What are your tips on how to iron your clothes less? Do you use a clothing steamer, and if so, would you recommend the one you have? How much do you base your clothes-buying decisions on whether something is likely to wrinkle easily (linen, 100% cotton, and so on) or whether it requires dry cleaning?

Stock photo: Deposit Photos / tonodiaz

Nobody likes ironing - but it can seem inevitable if you've got a ton of fancy workwear. Well, readers have shared their best tips on how to iron your clothes less, including some favorite laundry steamers, as well as how to release wrinkles. Avoiding ironing = winning, right?



How Much Do You Spend on Work Clothes?

how much do you spend on your work clothesHere’s a fun topic that we haven’t discussed in eons: How much do you spend on work clothes (as in, prices for individual clothing items)? What’s an average price you’re happy to pay for a pair of pants — for a sheath dress — for a blazer? I’m looking over my original answers from our original discussion on how much do you spend on clothes, and I’m a bit surprised I’m updating some of them:

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Pants: $ 40–$ 200. There are a ton of great pants for $ 50 now, from Everlane to J.Crew Factory to Uniqlo to Express/Loft type stuff. Sales can still be had — I just got a pair of pants at Banana Republic for $ 11 a few weeks ago, although they were floral ankle pants, so kind of on the “fun” side of things. Of course everyone loves the Eileen Fisher magic pants, usually around $ 168, and a tailored wool pant like Lafayette 148 New York or something will obviously be more.

Skirts: $ 30–$ 300. I feel like I always see great deals on skirts these days, and there are a ton of reader favorite options for pencil skirts for work at really affordable prices.

Blouses/tops: $ 15–$ 60, or $ 125–$ 250. I’m putting two price ranges here because I think the first price range is the “normal” price I’d pay for a blouse or top for work, and the second price range would be the “oooh, want” price — where the blouse has an absolutely amazing pattern or is from a designer I’ve wanted for eons or something special. I’ve definitely seen them for more than $ 250 but probably wouldn’t pay that for a simple blouse. (Everyone’s favorite NYDJ blouse is often down to around $ 50, and the reader favorite Loft blouse is $ 59 full price.)

Sweaters: $ 100–$ 300. Personally, this is where a lot of my money goes — I’ve always preferred cashmere or merino or blends because they’re soft, durable, and pretty warm, whereas a lot of the more affordable cotton blends I’ve had haven’t done any of those things. I’d say that at this point in my life, having small kids means that there are definitely a lot of easy-to-wash, $ 15–$ 20 sweatshirts for weekend wear with the kids where I can just throw them in the washer and not worry, but my “nice sweater” collection is generally more expensive. (Also remember that because I’ve been building a sweater collection for years now, I can afford to stalk nicer sweaters on sale, so that helps.)

Dresses: $ 40–$ 300. The only reason that first number is so low is because I’ve gotten some great Lands’ End dresses at some really nice sale prices. For a basic sheath dress there are so many great options that I’d put the average price around $ 175–$ 250.

Suits: $ 200–$ 600. Something I was surprised at when we did our last roundup of the best women suits of 2018 was how the average price seems to have somewhat fallen — the first two categories were below $ 500 and there are a TON of options in there. (And honestly most of the suits in the next category, the $ 500–$ 1000 one, often go on sale so you can pick up a suit for under $ 500.)

Bags: I’m always fascinated to see how this is a hugely social decision — most women I know stick to a pretty narrow price range that their friends and family also buy in. Personally, I still tend to think of a “good” bag as costing between $ 200–$ 800 when new, but I’ve gotten some great deals on bags (including a recent $ 160 charity auction purchase of a Bottega Venetta!) that I consider myself lucky.

Jewelry: $ 20–$ 150 for a “spur of the moment” purchase, $ 150+++ for a planned purchase. I’ve been refreshing my jewelry collection of late and have found some great things on Etsy for under $ 80. I also like a lot of older Alexis Bittar pieces, so whenever I see one on Poshmark or whatever I snap it up if it speaks to me or fills a hole (like I was recently looking for a large red pendant necklace because I decided I need more red in my life). I tend to focus on necklaces these days, as I’ve avoided earrings for years because the kids yanked them, and I never quite got in the habit of mixing metals with my platinum wedding rings. I think I’ve mentioned this before, also: I have a lot of regret for the semi-precious and precious “good” jewelry I bought in my 20s at places like Macy’s — 98% of it never sees the light of day, but is worth next to nothing on the resale market.

How about you guys: How much do you spend on clothes for work? What’s the average price for you for specific items of clothing?