Sometimes words fail, and not because a few can’t be committed to paper—that never seems to be a problem. Describing the complex or entirely subjective can be a challenge, but some jagged attempt is always possible. No—the impasse to which I refer has little to do with ability; sometimes words are just not the best medium.
Returning from a recent trip, and despite my well planned packing, I found a linen suit was creased beyond the charming rumples that make wearing the stuff a pleasure. With a holiday weekend full of invitations approaching, I needed it pressed. As it happened, I had an appointment with my tailor, Chris Despos, so I brought the suit along with hopes of a tutorial. What I instead witnessed was a master in his dojo vanquishing wrinkles with razor-sharp focus, speed and a few moments of humor.
His iron is old and formidable. His bench wears a battered padded top. Other implements—a standard spray bottle, a sleeve board, a shoulder stand, strips of unbleached muslin—are no more high-tech than the principle behind pressing itself. As Despos puts it: “wrinkles release under pressure, heat and steam—remove one and you aren’t pressing.” This is why he warns against hanging garments in a steam-filled bathroom—that old routine does little but fuzzes the nap and puckers the seams.
I dislike when crafts or skills are compared to art as I feel doing so cheapens both. But I must admit the parallels to poetry are obvious: form, structure, intent, beauty, and, finally, imperfection. “A suit,” Despos says, “should never be perfectly pressed.” Could have fooled me.