Here’s a good example of why you should be careful with garment steamers. StyleForum member Rysla recently went to his tailor’s for some basic alterations. When his tailor saw he was wearing a sport coat, she offered to steam it for free. The result? The lapels are now puckered. This is a 100% cashmere jacket too, from one of the more expensive Italian labels, Cesare Attolini. Ouch.
Jeffery Diduch, who works as a professional patternmaker and tailor, has long warned people about the dangers of steaming. Not only can steamers take all the shape out of a jacket, they can also cause seams to blow out and pucker. The good news is that you can restore the jacket through a professional hand press. A good tailor should be able to do this for you, although I just send my stuff to Rave FabriCARE.
So, if you can’t use steamers, how do you deal with wrinkles? Either learn how to press something yourself or just let your jacket hang for a day or two. If the material is good, most of the wrinkles should fall out naturally. Anything left can be chalked up to sprezzatura.
You can also just be very, very careful with a steamer. Don’t use a lot of steam and keep the machine away from seams, then give your jacket or pants a day of rest before wearing them again (wearing a freshly steamed garment can just cause more wrinkles). Many tailors will still wince at the suggestion, but it’s a nice compromise between needing to learn how to hand press a jacket yourself and waving a steamer around like you’re Mickey in Fantasia.
For more info about steamers, you can check out an old post we published here.