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The truth about starch

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I've got a problem. I just bought a Sea Island Cotton British dress shirt from Charles Thrywit, and through its first two washings, I have faithfully adhered to the company's warnings against starching the shirt. I've given the lady who comes to iron my shirts the same instructions, and although she's not happy about it, has agreed not to use starch on that shirt. But the bottom line is, the shirt looks like crap without starch. It doesn't look crisp. I have used starch for years on my Ascot Chang shirts, and they warn against using starch as well. But my AC shirts look wonderful still after 6+ years of use. I know some people say you can wash them, hang them and then iron them when they are almost dry, but that is too much damn work. I bust my arse all day in an office, sometimes 7 days a week, and I sure as heck don't want to iron shirts when I get home. The question: Can you lightly starch a sea island cotton shirt without destroying it? Or what about one of those products such as Magic Size (I think that is the name) instead? Anyone have any ideas?
post #2 of 14
Flippin starch it.  Starch the hell out of it.  Starch it 'til the cows come home.  Starch it silly.  If it's cotton it can take it - and I suspect will look better. Mind you, I avoid starching any blended fabric - never works right. In the case of a cotton garment the instructions against starching may be there to protect the garment from too hot an iron - common when starch is used and in combination can fade the color or 'yellow' a white shirt. I use starch on dress shirts and I 've always wondered if others experience this:  the crease near the shoulder that sometimes appears from a jacket or a seatbelt -- creased into starched material it is pretty much 'there' until the next laundering. Starchless - the wrinkles seem to fade. A tip from experimentation- Those all-cotton pants, for casual wear (tan chinos if you will) can be dressed up tremendously by starching them -- a little extra on the crease and they look quite nice, crisp, clean and neat. Try it.
post #3 of 14
Starch makes the cotton fibers in your shirt stiff and brittle. I don't know what the relative merits/demerits are of other sizings, but to achieve the desired effect, they pretty much have to do the same thing. When the fibers get brittle, they tend to break, ultimately enough to ruin the shirt. How long that takes depends on the quality of the cotton, the frequency with which the shirt is starched and ironed, and (to some degree) the amount of starch. I would guess that the temperature of the iron and the heavy-handedness of the ironing would also be factors. So, yes, starch "destroys" shirts. On the other hand, if your shirt never looks the way you want it to unless you starch it, what's the value of preserving it? Use some starch, and simply accept the fact that your shirt isn't going to last forever. At least when it falls apart"”which, as you've noted, might take years"”you'll have a legitimate excuse to shop for another one.
post #4 of 14
why not try having the shirt professionally laundered and pressed, sans starch? this does pose the problem of finding a good, if even decent, cleaners location. i used to starch my shirts all the time, but when i found out how bad they are for the shirt, i stopped.....esp when i started buying finer shirts.
post #5 of 14
I have always enjoyed a medium starched white dress shirt, which I have professionally done.
After reading all that's been said here about how bad starch is for shirts, I mentioned to my wife that maybe I shouldn't have my shirts starched and explained what I had read.
She immediately took exception to my reasoning and explained that starch protects a shirt from staining. She is of the opinion that a spill on a white starched dress shirt will fair better in the end, as the starch will soak up the stain. Where if the shirt were not starched, it would be ruined.
So I'm throwing her reasoning out to you, the audience, to see if you can give me a little more insight on these opposing views.
post #6 of 14
4+ year thread resurrection! is anyone keeping track of SF records? this miay be one...
post #7 of 14
i think we need to get some feature that autolocks ancient threads.......
post #8 of 14
Originally Posted by rick54
So I'm throwing her reasoning out to you

post #9 of 14
Wow, in 2002 I was wearing a black Stafford suit with black dexter shoes, a buttondown white express shirt and a gold tie. Styleforum has improved my life, if not my bank account.
post #10 of 14

Oh I just have to resurrect this, just because the 6th post said 4+ years was long. This thread is now 3685 days old, just over 10 years. The 6th post was made… 2152 days ago… almost 6 years.

post #11 of 14
post #12 of 14

6 years ago 4 years ago was long.

post #13 of 14
Need an update from FLMM.
post #14 of 14
Originally Posted by NoVaguy View Post

i think we need to get some feature that autolocks ancient threads.......

Regretably we still do not have an autolock facility.
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