I should start by saying that 99.99% of my wardrobe items never see the inside of a tumble dryer. Not even panties, loungewear, yoga wear, sleepwear, and especially not bras. I tumble-dry my socks and camisoles, and that’s it. The rest is hung dry in an empty closet or sent to eco-friendly cleaners. That’s because I believe that tumble-drying ruins the fit of your clothes, tortures delicate fibres, wears out fabric, makes the colour fade, and takes the polished and crisp integrity out of them. So I go to the effort of hang drying and ironing as needed. It’s extra effort and time, but worth it to me.

That said, every once in a while I carefully use the tumble dryer to deliberately adjust the fit of my clothes. I don’t recommend this strategy unless you’re prepared to take a risk, but I haven’t had any disasters yet. Here are two recent examples.

The first is a pair of Carpenter Straight Leg Jeans (see them in action here). They are the perfect length for my white Western shooties, but a little long for short-shaft Chelsea boots. I thought about having them shortened about half an inch because I am that pedantic about the lengths of things. Instead of having them altered I decided to shrink the length with the dryer. First I washed the jeans and hung dried them in the closet till they were almost dry. I then popped them in the dryer for ten minutes on regular heat. Afterwards, I pressed them to look pristine. They successfully shrunk half an inch in the length, and not at all in the width. I thought this might happen because they are 100% cotton woven fabric and very thick, stiff denim. Stretchy, soft and thin denim tends to shrink all over (and bag out later). Now the length is perfect to wear with my shooties, low-shaft Chelsea booties AND my hi-top sneakers for that matter (see the exact boot styles below). 

I’ve worn the jeans several times post the tumble dry, and they’re currently my favourite jeans. I will NOT be putting them in the tumble dryer again.

The second example is a lovely oatmeal surface interest knit top that I bought in the Netherlands a few months ago. It fits very fluidly, and I semi-tuck for more structure. I thought I’d be a devil and tumble dry it to create a snugger fit. First I washed the top and hung dried it in the closet till it was almost dry. I popped it in the dryer for ten minutes on regular heat. There was no need to iron it since it’s a crease-resistant top. It shrunk all over to exactly the fit I wanted, which was more luck than wisdom. Knits shrink in the dryer when they have a high cotton content, but they can often shrink too much in one direction. I love that the fit across the armholes, shoulders and sleeve width is narrower after the tumble dry. The top is still quite fluid, but less so. It’s also shorter and a better match for my new capsule of jeans with high rises. The top has retained its new fit after a couple of wears. I will NOT be putting it in the tumble dryer again.

Over to you. Have you ever deliberately shrunk clothing items in the tumble dryer? And was it successful?