The military crease expresses dignity, professionalism and attention to detail, whether you're in uniform or simply wish to look crisp and fastidious. U.S. military regulations on creases vary across Army, Navy and Air Force branches, but pressing a shirt in the military style traditionally creates three distinct vertical creases on the back of the shirt and two on the front, one on either side of the buttons.
Things You'll Need
Unbutton the shirt and place it on the ironing board. Spray it on both sides with a light, even coat of starch. Set your iron to the temperature setting recommended by the manufacturer of the spray starch -- you can typically find this info on the bottle -- or on the shirt's label and allow the iron to heat up as you apply the starch.
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Spread the sleeves out longways so that the seams rest flat on the ironing board and press the sleeves, moving slowly across the edges from armpit to cuff to create creases right on the seams.
Iron the entire surface of the shirt to get out wrinkles. Align the narrow end of your ironing board with the back shoulder of the shirt, keeping the edges of the shirt close to the edges of the board. Iron with moderate pressure, sliding the iron from top to bottom. When ironing the front of the shirt, use the narrow, pointed end of the iron to avoid getting snagged on buttons. For especially stubborn wrinkles, use your iron's spray function to mist the wrinkle with water, then iron it out.
Unbutton and fold out the collar and remove the collar stay, if your shirt has one. Place the collar face down and mist it with water. Allow the water to set for about 30 seconds, then iron from the middle of the collar out to its tips. Fold the collar back down.
Spread out the shirt so it lies button-side up. Spray the front of the shirt with another light mist of starch. Fold the shirt in exactly in half, vertically, so that one side is folded over the other side. Fold the folded-over half of the shirt back, making an edge that spans from the middle of the shoulder, through the middle of the shirt pocket and down to the bottom hem -- this edge will form your first military-style crease. Press this edge firmly with the iron, applying just a bit more pressure than you did when ironing for wrinkles. Move the iron very slowly down the edge, to create a crisp crease. Fold the opposite side of the shirt the same way and repeat.
Turn the shirt over and starch the back with another light mist. Fold the shirt in half exactly in the middle -- making a vertical line -- and iron the edge slowly, just as you did when creating the front creases. This makes a crease from the middle of the shirt's back down to its bottom hem.
Fold the shirt so that one side seam lines up with the center back crease. Iron slowly and firmly along the edge, applying enough pressure to set the crease, then fold the other side of the back of the shirt and iron that edge to create the last of the three parallel creases on the back of the shirt. Smooth out any new wrinkles that have appeared on the shirt as needed.
As a rule, use steam and high heat for ironing cotton dress shirts, or steam and low heat for cotton blends. Move the iron up and down rather than in circles.
- United States Army Publishing Directorate: Army Regulation 670-1: Uniform and Insignia: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia
- United States Navy: Grooming Standards, Chapter Two
- United States Air Force Personnel Center: Air Force Guidance Memorandum to AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel
- Sunbeam: Ironing Hints and Tips
- Proper Cloth: How to Iron a Dress Shirt
- Reader's Digest: Are You Ironing Wrong? Eight Tips on Getting it Right