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IN THIS ISSUE

VINTAGE CREASE
BY
MARK NEELEY

Those that have known me for any extended period of time will tell you that in the old days, I rarely wore anything but khaki pants and usually a button down oxford. Khakis were the staple of my wardrobe for so long that, as time went on I began to notice that khakis had changed from the heavy weight versions that I had purchased in the 1980s. 

Through out the 1990s, I noticed that I could not find the types of khakis that I use to wear. As I looked around, I also noticed that no one was wearing a traditional heavy weight 100% khaki without the “chemically enhanced” treatments that make them “ wrinkle free” right out of the dryer. This is because most of today’s humans are too lazy to iron, they do not know how to iron (nor do they care to learn), their dry cleaner funds have been spent at the Stagbuck’s coffee shop, or simply that most of today’s irons will not produce a crease or iron a pair of pants to the level that we achieved several years ago.

Years ago, I quickly found out that the way I really liked my khaki pants to look was to take them to the cleaners and have them laundered and starched. This produced a look unachievable without commercial equipment. My khakis are still laundered and starched, it just looks better and it stands out from the crowd, especially today where so many appear to care less about their appearance. When I do wear khakis today, I almost exclusively wear Bill’s Khakis www.billskhakis.com . They are old school. Real old school, because Bill used the patterns from the original U. S. Military khaki worn first during the 1940s. Bill’s Khakis are made in the U.S.A. to standards that make them an outstanding pair of pants. They cost more, but they are worth it. Check out their site for more about Bill’s Khakis.

Though I have had nearly all of my khaki pants, button downs or other shirts laundered for years, there is an occasion where I need to iron. Several years ago, I was in a hurry and tried to iron a shirt with a contemporary iron. Though I had it set on the correct cotton setting, the iron simply did not iron a crease like I like it. I sprayed plenty of spray starch, but the iron seemed to only iron “for the moment”. As you worked your way to the other side of the garment, the side you had just ironed seemed to no longer be ironed.

Over a period of years, we had several irons with the same results. I began to realize that most of today’s irons were inferior to those that I grew up using in the 1970s. Then, just as it had with my vintage Sunbeam coffee pot, a thought occurred to me to seek out and purchase a nice vintage iron. But not just any old iron would do. Irons had been made for centuries. What I wanted was a late 40s through early 1960s electric steam iron. What I found was a nearly mint, 1950s Sunbeam Catalog no. S 4 “Steam or Dry Iron”. This iron was a behemoth compared to modern “sissy” irons. Its weight, construction and overall engineering spoke of high quality American made durability. This Sunbeam was the kind of iron that the former “Rosies” wielded after World War II, instead of their rivet guns.  The kind of irons that kept American workers looking their best whether they wore coveralls or dress shirts to work. The kind of irons we use to build and own. 

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