Janet Combs

Janet Combs

Which of the following most accurately dictates my fashion choices in the morning before going to work?

a) What pieces do I own that reflect new trends by Pyer Moss, Rotate, Chakshyn and Bande Noir?

b) What accessories will highlight my ensemble and give me a polished, professional look?

c) What doesn’t need ironing?

“C” is the answer, of course, and it’s not because I don’t like ironing. Ironing used to be my “chosen” Saturday morning chore growing up — I enjoyed pressing my father’s handkerchiefs into neat rectangles, and methodically turning my mother’s skirts over the board, eliminating any wrinkles while I puffed or pleated them. I also cranked up the tunes while I worked, so much so that my Mom would complain, “Do you have to have your music on so loud while you’re ironing?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do,” I would shout over the latest Springsteen or Queen or Electric Light Orchestra. And she would roll her eyes and stomp out of the room, which was a nice reversal of the typical teenage girl-mother moment.

To this day, I like the smell of hot cotton. I know it’s weird, but clean laundry is so full of promise. I would wear a perfume that replicates the smell that wafts off a linen blouse when you lift the steaming iron from it.

Call me lazy, but I just don’t like the ironing preparation. This involves getting out the always-inconvenient ironing board from beside the washing machine and setting it up in the hallway, then grabbing the iron off a high shelf in a closet and plugging it in, filling it with water in case I need the steam function, and adding the approximately five minutes this whole set-up and clean-up takes to my morning routine. This ruins the “Zen” of ironing for me — I don’t like doing it when I’m already pressed for time. So, I generally stick with selecting my outfits from the shapeless stuff that you could sleep in — the hooded sweatshirts of career wear — slacks and shirts in synthetic blends that you ought not to step too close to an open flame while wearing.

Perhaps when we are done with our major home improvement projects, I will have time to set aside an hour on a Sunday afternoon to blast classic rock and iron the clothes I prefer to wear — crisp blouses and blazers—for the upcoming week. Or, at least this was my thought before my husband gave me the most wonderful and useful gift a hot-cotton-loving gal like me could ever want!

I’ve now got one of those “ironing centers” that magically comes out of the wall!

It’s a cabinet that conceals a drop-down ironing board, with a little shelf that holds your iron and spray starch above it. The ironing board swivels to precisely the angle you need for sleeves or slacks and it’s perfectly calculated for my height, so, for example, Uma Thurman or Jane Lynch might not be comfortable coming over to do my ironing now. Not that they were before.

Best of all, I had absolutely nothing to do with its installation—it was a surprise, completed entirely while I was at work. Because this is a column about home improvement, I will reveal that it involved some astute initial design work, estimating and checking for wiring and plumbing potentially concealed by the chosen wall. This was followed by measuring, re-measuring, and the dusty, exacting slicing of sheetrock. I missed all of this fun. But my husband texted me a photo of the wall cutout, which was perfect — and waited for me to come home so I could hold the ironing center in its recessed space while he put in the fastening screws.

It takes me no time at all now to iron something in the morning before work, which means this fashion icon’s coming back. Hot cotton!

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Her column is published regularly in the Georgetown Times. Contact her at https://janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.