Why do women's shirts sometimes cost more than men's?

The idea of “gender-neutral pricing” is a big issue in the dry cleaning industry. This is the notion that a women’s garment should always be the same price as an equivalent men’s garment. And we at Battiston’s hold very firmly to that belief. A two-piece women’s suit is always going to be the same price as a two-piece men’s suit. A women’s coat is always going to be the same price as a men’s coat. If you ever see a cleaner that doesn’t follow that rule, don’t go there. Run away. That’s not a reputable business, and if they don’t care about being reputable in that one area, what kind of service are you going to expect?

The one very large asterisk in the realm of gender-neutral pricing, however, is in shirts. Women’s shirts/blouses are often comprised of more elaborate fabrics that, as the last section described, should not or simply cannot be laundered and pressed. Also, blouses can have more elaborate cuts, styles and trims than their male shirt counterparts. Men’s shirts are pretty much always the same shape; even if they have something a little more complex like epaulets or French cuffs, they’re otherwise identically shaped. A machine press is geared toward that shape, and so we can handle any man’s shirt without a problem.

Women’s blouses are not nearly so uniform. Oddly-shaped cuts are not going to fit on a shirt press, and thus they will need to be finished by hand. That’s a lot more labor-intensive for a cleaner, and thus the cleaner is going to understandably have a hard time charging the same price. (Remember, the margins on shirt cleaning are very low to begin with, so if you must put significantly more labor into a shirt, then you’re in a losing proposition.) Also, size matters. If a woman’s shirt is too small and you try to put it on a press geared for men’s body types, you run the risk of tearing. (It’s one of the very few places in society where a lady is not rewarded for being thin.)

Some cleaners won’t let you make the call: any woman’s shirt, they’re going to dry clean, and charge you the higher dry cleaning price. We don’t think that’s fair at Battiston’s. So if a woman’s shirt can fit on a shirt press, we’ll do it that way, at the lower price. That’s what our trade industry, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, recommends: “[W]omen should not be charged a higher price simply because they are a woman. If a woman’s shirt can fit on the unit, then it should be finished that way unless she indicates otherwise.” But ultimately, what we want to do is have a conversation with you, and make the decision in tandem. So just ask us the best way to do your ladies’ shirts, and we’ll work together to come up with the most cost-effective solution.

  1. Why are shirts laundered rather than dry cleaned?
  2. What shirts can be laundered, and what must be dry cleaned?
  3. Why do women’s shirts sometimes cost more than men’s?
  4. What’s the value in putting a bar code on your shirts?
  5. What is starch, and should I get it on my shirts?
  6. How do we remove those nasty collar stains from your shirts?
  7. What machinery is used in cleaning and pressing your shirts?
  8. What kind of quality control measures are in place for shirts?
  9. What is 'finishing,' and what does it mean in regard to shirts?
  10. What's the expected lifespan of a shirt, and how can I prolong it?