A formal shirt with a winged collar is an important part of the classic black-tie look for men. The formal shirt must always be smooth and crisp; wrinkles can destroy the whole effect. Because the shirt's collar and pleats need special care, many men prefer to have them professionally laundered. However, this isn't always possible, particularly while travelling. Should you ever need to iron a formal shirt in a hurry, you'll find that it's almost exactly the same as ironing any other shirt.
Set up your ironing board. The board's tapering end should point away from your dominant hand; if you are right-handed, the tapered end should be in the left. Fill your iron with water to the fill line, preferably distilled.
Adjust your iron's temperature setting to match the material of the shirt. If you're unsure about the correct setting, it's best to start on low heat and, if the iron isn't getting out the wrinkles, gradually work your way up.
Wet the shirt lightly. You can use the iron's spray function if it has one. Alternatively, a small spray bottle of water can be used here.
Spread the shirt out on the ironing board. Begin with the sleeves. Position each sleeve with the seam at the bottom and iron down to the edge of the cuff. Turn the shirt over and iron the back. Use firm, smooth strokes and keep the iron moving. Again, make sure to work right to the edges of the seams.
Ignore the cuffs, collar and pleats if you can get away with it. Because they're generally more highly starched than other parts of the shirt, these areas are unlikely to wrinkle. However, they're also the most visible areas of the shirt; if they are wrinkled, you need to address it.
Unfold each cuff and spray a small amount of spray starch on it. Place a dish towel over the cuff and iron it. Resist the urge to create a sharp crease at the fold of the cuff like you might on an everyday shirt; the cuff of a formal shirt should have a slightly more natural fold.
Spray the collar with a small amount of spray starch, cover it with a dish towel and iron. Make sure that the points of the collar are correctly folded. You want the wings stuff enough to stand out, but not stiff enough that you won't be able to fit them behind your tie.
Iron the front of the shirt. If it has pleats or tucks, you may want to use a little spray starch. Always iron in the direction of the pleats, usually away from the centre of the shirt.
Avoid using spray starch with high temperatures; this can cause flaking.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid using spray starch with high temperatures; this can cause flaking.