Fabric Care as Self-Care: My Lifelong Love Affair with Ironing

When I was a little kid, I loved to iron. When I’d visit my grandmother every summer, she’d let me pull all the napkins and pillow cases from her linen closet, press them, then arrange them back on their shelves in tidy, satisfying stacks. I’d spend hours in her utility room: just me, an iron, and spray bottle of starch. There was something about the instant gratification of watching creases disappear with the pass of my hand, seeing steam puff forth at the press of a button, exacting sharp, even folds from formerly floppy fabrics. No wrinkle was safe when I was in town. I’d even sneak crumpled dollar bills from the tray on my grandfather’s bureau so I could crisp them up as fresh the day they were minted.

Then somewhere along the way, ironing and I had a falling-out. Maybe it happened in high school, when my mom’s habit of pressing her jeans served as the butt of my teenage jokes. Perhaps it was in college, when wearing pajamas to class felt like the ultimate in rebellious self-expression. Or likely, it was during the transience of my 20’s, when moving to five cities over seven years necessitated the shedding of all but the most essential. Whatever the reason, by the time I reached 30, I didn’t even own an iron—and wrinkles had become my norm. I can only imagine the sloppy statement I must have made at work each day, my button-downs and trousers as rumpled as if I’d just deplaned a transatlantic flight. I justified my wrinkled ways with righteous indignation—“If someone’s going to judge me by my appearance then I don’t care for their opinion anyway!“—but in reality, they accurately reflected the state of my existence in those years. Careless. Chaotic. A hot, sloppy mess.      

But like a dear old friend whose reacquaintance comes only when you’re ready to receive it, ironing has made its way back into my life lately. Along with a quiet weeknight prepping dinner or a Sunday morning sweeping out the cobwebs, it’s the restorative antidote I seek when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the fast pace and furious upheaval of our world. Ironing is practice in mindfulness, a slow, meditative moment that (unlike most things these days!) cannot be rushed. I think of it as self-care through fabric care: I’ve reached the point at which I value myself enough to invest in clothes that delight me, to extend their lifetime with proper treatment, and to put the extra effort into looking polished and presentable before I leave the house. And to support that mindfulness mission, I’ve streamlined my home to include tools that bring both impeccable results as well as ease and pleasure of use—like the Rowenta Focus Excel Iron.

The Rowenta Focus Excel Iron is the stuff of my 8-year-old self’s dreams. Its high precision tip gets into those difficult areas such as seams, collars, and this season’s on-trend ruffles and folds. 400 microholes in the stainless steel soleplate distribute steam evenly for a smooth glide against your ironing surface. An anti-drip feature prevents water leakage to protect delicate fabrics like silks while working at low temperatures, and a safety auto-off puts the Focus in standby mode after 8 minutes of rest—because let’s face it, I’m sometimes not as mindful as I’d like to be! But best of all, the Rowenta Focus Excel Iron is a little piece of German-engineered time travel—for with a pass of my hand, the wrinkles disappear and I’m back in my grandmother’s utility room. The world around me stops, the puffs of steam are a soothing balm to my sometimes frazzled soul, and my perfectly pressed clothes leave me feeling as fresh as a newly minted bill.

Images: Monica Wang Photography. Disclosure: I partnered with Rowenta to concept, produce, style, write, and share this post. All opinions are and always will be my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable me to bring you fresh inspiration daily!