Tag Archives: polyester

To the Garment Industry: Less Polyester, More Cotton, Please

7 Jun
An Arizona cotton plant. Photo from tucsonsentinel.com.

An Arizona cotton plant. Photo from tucsonsentinel.com.

It never fails. Thumbing through a catalogue, I’ll get all excited: “What a stellar outfit! Those colors would be so flattering, and I could get a lot of use out of it!” Then I read the description: “Oh snap! It’s 100% polyester.”

Once again, the garment industry has saved me money. Although the wildly popular synthetic works well in blends, such as poly-rayon-spandex in career pants and poly-cotton interlock in t-shirts, I can’t stand full-strength polyester against my skin. Of course, there’s a backstory here.

Body Odor

My mother used to buy me lovely-looking polyester dresses and skirt outfits. I wore them faithfully. Unfortunately, she tended to call me aside, as she felt a mother should, and tell me I should change deodorants and laundry detergents because she noticed I, and my clothes, didn’t smell nice. I was flummoxed. Having my mom insinuate I stank to high heaven was deflating enough, but I was a clean person who took joy in my daily showers and wore clothing only once before washing it.  Was it my weight or diet? Was I doomed to turn into a garbage can when I tried to look good? Visions of Mom pursuing me with a can of Lysol at family gatherings entered my head.  I sent for Kleinert’s dress shields, which helped a little. I also noticed Mom didn’t comment on my b.o.when I wore cotton or other natural fabrics, but it took awhile to figure out why.

Putting It Together: Stacy and Clinton to the Rescue

Years later, I was watching an episode of What Not To Wear (one of my favorites).  Style experts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly were conducting the customary sort-and-toss of their current client’s wardrobe. Holding up a pair of  dark polyester pants, one of them asked, “Where would you wear these?” “Out dancing,” the lady replied. “You must smell good by the end of the night,” Clinton laughed, explaining that polyester doesn’t breathe.

Bingo!

It wasn’t me; it was the fabric that had trapped my perspiration and not vented my skin, so to speak. I had been shying away from 100%v poly anyway by the time I saw this episode, but now I knew why. Although people perspire in different quantities, eliminating toxins through sweat is normal and bound to happen unless you have a medical condition. Working out? Sweat is desirable. Living in Phoenix, in 100+ degree heat, or New Orleans in 85 degree heat with 85% humidity? Sweat happens. Unless you are wearing one of the newer polyester or nylon garments that wick away moisture, poly keeps sweat next to your skin.  Being disabled and moving more slowly down the sidewalk simply gives one more opportunity to sweat in the summer.  What’s the solution? Mine is wearing cotton.

In Praise of Cotton

Crisp or soft, depending on the treatment, cotton is breathable and comfortable, lending itself to casual, in-between, and dressy outfits with ease. It comprises many fashion classics: jeans, tees, button-down shirts and blouses, shorts, cardigans, summer dresses. That isn’t even a comprehensive list.  Because I live in a warm climate, I focus on staying cool in the spring and summer and layering clothing in the winter, when days start out chilly but grow warmer. Sweat? Cotton both absorbs and vents it.  Admittedly, my love of cotton doesn’t stop with my outer wardrobe. I prefer cotton socks, underwear, pajamas, and sheets (no slinky satin for me). After working in a hospital and seeing their cotton blankets, I was thrilled to find  one in assorted colors in the Brylane Home print catalogue. I am a cotton fan all right. My body says “Don’t fence me in when you cover me,” and cotton fits the bill.

No Knocks To Other Naturals

Other natural fabrics have their benefits, of course. However, silk does not fit my budget.  Wool is fantastic, but  not often needed in Phoenix. Linen? Wrinkle city, although textile designers are blending it with other fabrics to lessen that tendency. Flax and hemp? Getting there, but still a bit expensive for me. More power to anyone designing breathable couture. Who says fabulous clothes have to make you sweat?

Some Clarification

My home state since 1972,  Arizona, grows cotton; however, I am not a spokesperson for the industry. It may sound that way, but  I don’t even know anyone in that business. In addition, I realize my mom spoke out of love. For her generation, cotton meant lots of ironing and effort; polyester and other no-iron synthetics were a godsend. I was a busy young teacher, and she simply wanted to share that godsend with me by helping me look good in pretty, low-maintenance outfits. My intent was not to criticize her, and I was often over-sensitive in those days anyway.

Polyester is popular, or the fashion world wouldn’t be using it. It has a silky hand and probably takes dyes easily to form any patterns designers wish on the fabric. Its no-iron smoothness and drape are appealing. A former colleague wore it often; she also carried a bottle of Febreze to ward off body odor. That worked for her. Me?  I find the stuff aversive. I’ll opt for cotton.

Finally, Rain in the Desert! TravelSmith Can Help You Weather the Storm

16 Dec
rain coat, TravelSmith, disabled fashion, disabled women, wefly2, disabled shopping, online shopping

My short trench rain coat from TravelSmith.

Rain in Phoenix is a novelty. Seriously. I have seen people run to the windows of their homes and offices when water pours from the sky, as it did yesterday. Some folks are unprepared and don’t even bother to turn on their windshield wipers, let alone purchase rain gear. Me? I carried an umbrella to dinner Friday night, as it had rained earlier in the day, but of course it didn’t in the evening. Last night, however, I was grateful for my TravelSmith short trench raincoat.

Water-Repellant, Handy, and Chic

I finished walking the dog in steady rain and was dry thanks to my coat‘s water-repellent qualities. Polyester with nylon lining, the tan trench-style coat lies somewhere between long jacket and car-coat length. It covers a blazer but does not look odd with any length of skirt. When you sit down while wearing it, it doesn’t pull anywhere–a plus for wheelchair and scooter users, although you may want a longer garment to keep your legs dry, like TravelSmith’s Navy Waterproof Trench Coat.  My TravelSmith coat also features a self-belt, silver-toned buttons, two outside pockets that button and two hidden pockets inside.   TravelSmith always thinks of safety options for travelers; this is their forte.

Current Offerings for Rain or Cool Weather

The most recent travelsmith.com offerings include a white “Nautical Crinkled” version of my coat for $99, the price I paid. This beauty still has the four pockets, self-belt, a crisp appearance and is supposed to shed wrinkles when packed for travel. Prefer another color? TravelSmith also offers a Navy Trench Jacket with similar, but not identical, styling for $149, and the Waterproof Trench Coat in several colors for $129-$179.

rain coats,rain jackets, trench jackets, travelsmith.com, disabled shopping, online shopping

The most recent version of TravelSmith’s trench rain jacket, available at travelsmith.com. Photo from travelsmith.com.

A Note About Fit

My short trench was a little snug in the hips when I first purchased it–I was not able to button the bottom button–but fit perfectly once I dropped a few pounds. I am not pear-shaped, but the tummy got in the way, I think! Sizes run as high as XL (18-20). If you think you might have the same problem I did and can’t order a size up, you might consider the full-length trench coat or some of the shorter jackets travelsmith.com has. Be sure to check the clearance section, too!

Ah, Climate

I love it when it rains here. I used to feel silly having a raincoat in my closet, but not anymore. We Phoenicians may not need hardcore winter wear like our friends in colder climates–we laugh when we see sweaters in department stores in September, and it is still 100 degrees here–but it always pays to be prepared for the rain. The clouds and dampness are a welcome change, and chic coats from TravelSmith can help us enjoy it!