As I went out to bring in my laundry, I reflected on how much I love hanging out my clothes. I have a number of racks I use to do this. Not only does it same money on the electricity for the dryer, it makes them smell good. I feel sad when the days get so cold I can’t dry my clothes out of doors. Even then I’ve been known to use the racks inside in the hallway. Dryers are probably the biggest energy hogs in any household, and I like to save the environment as well as my pocketbook from that burden.
The clothes I had hung outside were ready to come in. I’d been delayed hanging them up. My denim skirt crunched up in the washing machine since the night before had dried with its wrinkles intact. My first thought was, oh, now I’ll have to iron it. My second thought was no, nowadays wrinkles don’t seem to matter much. I laughed and hung up the skirt. By the time I was ready to wear it, some of the wrinkles would probably straighten out by themselves.
I grew up in an era when wrinkles were considered unacceptable. Making sure that my clothes were wrinkle free was an important part of my growing up years. Laundry was much more complicated than simply throwing the clothes in the washing machine and dryer. Though I never used it myself, I have memories of something called “bluing” that was used to make clothing whiter. I also remember starch used for shirts and other clothing as well.
Once an iron was an important household tool. From colonial times through Victorian ones, most homes, unless they sent out their laundry, had several flatirons. These would be heated on the ever burning cook stove or hearth. It was important to iron carefully because it was easy to scorch the white aprons, shawls or petticoats most women wore. Now heavy black iron flatirons are common in antique stores where they are sold for door stops.
I doubt many twenty-somethings own or have ever used an iron. Either they don’t need to eliminate wrinkles or they have clothes that don’t accumulate them. Permanent press probably eliminated many commercial laundries. In the past wrinkles were unacceptable, considered the sign of a careless or sloppy person. What I don’t remember is at what point clothing wrinkles ceased to be important to eliminate.
Wrinkles in the skin, most especially facial wrinkles seem to be another matter. Try to find a woman’s magazine without ads for wrinkle removing cosmetics or cover-ups. Judging from the ads, women and even some men also spend lavishly on plastic surgery. This seems sad. To me frown, smile and other lines present a record of a person’s lifelong expressions as well as of their attitude toward what life has had to offer. Perhaps one day these wrinkles too will become more generally acceptable.