Love Aesthetics

January 25, 2018


words and images
by Suzanne

Chris vividly remembers his uncle ironing his clothes back in the day. Standing in his boxers and a muscle shirt, an iron in one hand, creasing his jeans or t-shirt with the other, a phone cradled between his head and his shoulder while talking to one of his girls or a homie, bumping KRLA oldies in the background. “I don’t really remember this type of ironing having a specific name. I guess we could call it Cholo Ironing for now but it’s a part of our Chicano culture in general and not necessarily specified to Cholos only. Most Cholos did do it though.” Chris is referring to the way Chicano’s (and he himself) used to iron and crease their clothes. This started out with the Pachuco (Mexican Americans in the 30’s and 40’s) and still lives on today. Some say creasing comes from the creases that clothes have when they are brand new and packed. Hence, when you crease your clothes, they look brand new.

“My uncle taught me how to iron and crease in the mid- 80’s at the age of 13. That’s when I started to notice girls and wanted to impress them.” It was a way to attract the ladies by showcasing the fact that you took care of yourself. It showed cleanliness, it showed pride and that you took time to do it right. Chris mentioned the importance representing yourself, especially when out there in the streets. There were a few that didn’t do it, but quickly caught on and developed their own ways and styles. “People did experiment with creasing to change things up a bit. We usually used to iron a crease right down the middle of a thick cotton t- shirt. Each leg of a pair of pants would have a crease down the middle too. At some point we would iron 1 crease in the front and 1, 2 or even 3 creases in the back. For me, the 1 in the front and the 3 in the back would represent 13, from LA, Los Angeles. Some people even creased their own initials in the back.” The ceremony of creasing in itself took him 20 to 30 minutes per garment. “Some call it overkill, I call it style.”

All clothes were sized up and worn baggy. “The baggier the clothes you wore, the more you showed that you were rebellious towards what society expected from you. People would say: You’re wearing pants that could be your grandfather’s size, you look ridiculous! And I would say: Well f*ck that, I am ridiculous!” Back in the day there was a uniform in that sense. A crisp white t-shirt, Ben Davis shirts, blue or black Levi’s or Dickies, corduroy pants (the lather were tricky to crease). Levi’s, Dickies and Ben Davis became go-to brands because they were worn by the working class people. These jeans were good quality, durable and affordable, it turned into a street culture staple in the late 80’ s and 90’ s . Thick white cotton t-shirts from JC Penney were the number one choice and available for $3. Today you can get a similar quality from a local liquor store. Yes, the local liquor store, where you can buy a fresh white t-shirt for $5 alongside your beer.​

/ Cholo Ironing 101

Time: 20 – 25 min

Step 1: Lay out your pant legs first, even them out.
Step 2: Pre-iron to eliminate any pre-existing creases you might already have.
Step 3 : Fold your pants to line up the seams parallel to each other.
Step 4: Lift one pant leg up and over and make sure your seams are in line with one another.
Step 5: Commence ironing on one side of the seam to begin the crease.
Step 6: After you have the desired crease, add the spray starch, according to desired stiffness.
Step 7: Take a damp cloth to remove excess starch to prevent from flaking and undesired iron marks/stains.
Step 8: Repeat the same steps to do the other side of the pant legs.

Time: 5 – 10 min

Step 1: Lay out your t – shirt first, even it out.
Step 2: Pre-iron to eliminate any pre-existing creases you might already have.
Step 3: Line up the shoulder seams along with the sleeve, commence ironing.
Step 4: Starch it up for desired stiffness and continue ironing.
Step 5 : Line up the side seams to get a fold right down the middle.
Step 6 : Iron the fold to get the perfect crease.
Step 7 : Starch it up for desired stiffness.You don’t need a damp cloth for white fabric.
Step 8 : Keep ironing until satisfied.

Words by Suzanne van Heerde, Jan 2018, Los Angeles
Special thanks to Chris



6 responses to “CHOLO IRONING 101”

  1. I’ve never thought of ironing to make creases purposely. I love the idea of it, it could really help spice up a simple outfit! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. This laundry useing new technology??? Tell me what is pls

  3. ERIKA says:

    It should be spelled ‘Pachuco’ 🙂

  4. Kelvin Deleon says:

    *Pachuco. It’s Pachuco not Pachugo

  5. ivaniacarpio says:

    Thanks Erika & Kelvin for the correction 🙂

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