Fashion Magazine

The Magic of Steam Stations

By Dieworkwear @dieworkwear


Most menswear reviews go something like this: a ridiculously trivial problem is blown out of proportion, and some expensive item is proposed as the solution. The slightly uncomfortable experience of being caught in a drizzle, for example, can be solved with a handmade raincoat with bonded seams; the slightly-off fit of ready-to-wear shoes can be solved with something bespoke; and any difficulty in understanding Four Pins can be solved with someone young and hip, serving as a personal translator. 

In reality, most things have a steep diminishing returns curve, and much of what you need can be satisfied for not too much money. For ironing, I recommend Black & Decker’s D2030 iron, any kind of non-countertop ironing board, and a basic spray bottle (since most irons are terrible at spraying mist or steam). All three can be had for less than $100. 

In the last year, however, I’ve fallen in love with steam stations, which are irons that give continuous and powerful blasts of steam. Although they’re not as effective as the infomercial above would like you to believe, they’re surprisingly not that far off. With one in my hand, I feel like a disgusted prince, sending servants away with a few flicks of the wrist. “Begone, wrinkles!”

The problem with steam this powerful, of course, is that you risk puckering seams, delaminating fusing, and taking the shaping out of tailored clothes. Jeffery Diduch has done a lot in educating people on StyleForum (including me) about this subject, and you can see the ill-effects a steamer can have on a garment below. 


One solution, then, is to get a vacuum table, which will suck the moisture out of your garments as you throw steam in. The downside? Well, they’re expensive. The Reliable C81 I bought cost $500, and nicer models are only more expensive. They’re also quite heavy, so it’s better to have a room dedicated to ironing, rather than needing to wrestle with this thing as you try to get it in and out of closets. On the other hand, the weight also makes it less wobbly, which is useful when you’re trying to iron quickly. There’s also a rack at the end of the board, where you can set your steam station. 

The cost, however, is still not trivial, and they might only be worth it if you plan to press trousers or jackets (where steam can really have an effect), or if your shirts are particularly expensive. Ruin just a couple, and you could already be at the $500 mark. 

Don’t mistake what I’m saying. For most people, the basic Black & Decker iron plus an ironing board will serve fine. The steam function isn’t that great on the B&D, but you can use a water spray bottle and that’ll soften the fibers nicely (I wrote some other ironing tips yesterday at Put This On). If you’re OK with dropping ~$300 for a steam station, however, there are some nice ones from Rowenta and Reliable. They’re better for ironing in batches, given the set up time required, but once you get going, you can cut your work time in about half. A vacuum table might also be a good idea depending on your budget, space, and the cost of your clothes. With the two combined, I get through two week’s worth of clothes in about an hour. 

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