#1
Old 12-09-2004, 02:43 PM
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What's wrong with polyester?

I always thought that the rule was that higher quality clothing was 100% cotton, and cheaper/ less fashionable stuff was polyester or cotton-poly blend. I know nothing about clothes, I don't know where I got this idea, but I just thought that was the rule. Anyway, I just bought a pair of fuzzy pants the other day -- I don't know how to describe them, other than to just say "fuzzy pants". You know, just something comfortable to wear for lounging around the house. I've got to say, they're the most comfortable article of clothing I've ever owned. They feel so terrific that I had to know what they were made of (something I hadn't checked when I bought them) and as it turns out . . . they're 100% polyester. So now I'm wondering what the heck is it that people have against polyester? (Or maybe no one thinks there's anything wrong with polyester, and I'm just mistaken.)
#2
Old 12-09-2004, 03:02 PM
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I think polyester has the misfortune of being associated with some of the worst fashion-eras in our history. Think of the polyester leisure suits seen in 70's TV shows and it isn't to hard to see why it gets such a crappy reputation.
#3
Old 12-09-2004, 03:22 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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I grew up in the worst of the polyester years, so I associate it with this. Either "double-knit" (the feeling and texture of foam rubber) or that unbreathable, plastic-y Qiana crap.

[shudder]

That being said, not all polyesters are bad today—I will sometimes opt for a poly/cotton or poly/linen blend, as long as the "poly" is in the minority. But given the choice, I prefer 100% cotton, linen or wool—it just feels and looks better, and lasts longer.

[link does not seem to be working—go to lileks.com and click on The Dorcus Collection to see what I mean!]
#4
Old 12-09-2004, 03:30 PM
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What's wrong with polyester?

Indeed. What is wrong with clothing that keeps you warm in the summer and cool in the winter ?
#5
Old 12-09-2004, 04:57 PM
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Polyester is vile because

- it doesn't breathe, so people like me who heat up quickly find it very uncomfortable

- it's highly flammable, which bothers some people

- it often feels terrible to the touch and doesn't drape well (although they are doing wonderful things with fleece these days) - I personally don't like the feel of artificial fibres next to my skin.

On the other hand, polyester is great because

- it's very, very durable (I had a cotton-poly blend work shirt that lived at the bottom of my rucksack and was regularly used as a napkin - although it was fugly, not only did it never stain, it never even wrinkled - which, for a work shirt, is pretty great

- it's often practical for specific purposes - eg sports - it is stain-resistant, can dry quickly, hold its shape, be wind- and water-resistant, etc.
#6
Old 12-09-2004, 05:06 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowgirl
it is stain-resistant, can dry quickly, hold its shape, be wind- and water-resistant, etc.
Of course, the same can be said for stainless steel.
#7
Old 12-09-2004, 05:17 PM
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*clank, clank, clank*
#8
Old 12-09-2004, 05:34 PM
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Although as Americans we are not going to admit this (see recent thread) there is such a thing as class distinctions. The upper class look down on anything made from man-made fibres. Caroline Kennedy's classmates have reported that in her 4 years at Harvard (or was it Yale?) she never had a man-made fibre touch her skin. That combined with the horrible things like casual suits gave polyester a very bad name. I had a pair of 100% polyester shorts that I used coaching soccer. Well, I wore them twice and the girls gave me so much grief that I never wore them again. This was back when "alligator golf shirts" became "Izod" shirts, shorts, etc.

Having been in a "fibre" related business and now having a cotton field in my backyard, I have developed another theory about the rise and fall of polyester and the comeback of cotton. Cotton pickers started being used in the 70's and most of my neighbors talk about picking cotton years ago. I believe that there just wasn't enough people willing to pick cotton and polyester filled in to meet the demand for clothing. Then the cotton pickers completely replaced the hand pickers and cotton was much more available. The Cotton Board (you've seen their green logo with cotton boll silhouette) started pushing cotton and badmouthing polyester.
#9
Old 12-09-2004, 05:39 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kniz
I had a pair of 100% polyester shorts that I used coaching soccer. Well, I wore them twice and the girls gave me so much grief that I never wore them again.
Goodness! And they let you keep your job?
#10
Old 12-09-2004, 05:45 PM
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Nothing - I found Divine's performance as Francine Fishpaw to be nothing short of sublime.

Oh...you mean the fabric...well...it's fake.
#11
Old 12-09-2004, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim314
I always thought that the rule was that higher quality clothing was 100% cotton, and cheaper/ less fashionable stuff was polyester or cotton-poly blend. I know nothing about clothes, I don't know where I got this idea, but I just thought that was the rule. Anyway, I just bought a pair of fuzzy pants the other day -- I don't know how to describe them, other than to just say "fuzzy pants". You know, just something comfortable to wear for lounging around the house. I've got to say, they're the most comfortable article of clothing I've ever owned. They feel so terrific that I had to know what they were made of (something I hadn't checked when I bought them) and as it turns out . . . they're 100% polyester. So now I'm wondering what the heck is it that people have against polyester? (Or maybe no one thinks there's anything wrong with polyester, and I'm just mistaken.)

Big broads like me of a certain age (OK - 43) have disturbing memories of black elastic waist pants made of 100% polyester that would turn (I kid you not) *rusty* tinted after a few wearings and washings. It pilled horrible and had no "give" to it.

Today, the poly blends are wonderful. I'm wearing a pair of boot cut poly blend trousers today that are soft, beautiful draping and look fabulous.

VCNJ~
#12
Old 12-09-2004, 10:08 PM
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I'll just ditto what others have said here—the "bulletproof" polyester of yesteryear seems to have left scars on our psyches. And even when it looks good, it feels awful.

However, some outerwear (like the fleecy jacket I am wearing) are fine with all-poly. And as Eve says, some poly blends are okay—as long as the poly is in the minority (50-50 is the most poly I generally like).

However, there's a type of fabric that's been around for a while that's "slinky" (silk-like) and/or "crepey," and sometimes it's okay. I made my mom a skirt out of some lightweight, crepey type fabric (very lovely drape). I had to do it—it had a beautiful print of postage stamps, mostly blues and greens, and was just the thing for her. It looks fabulous, has lasted for many years. Since it is a loose, flowy skirt, it doesn't matter if it doesn't "breathe" all that well. (However, the fabric was sort of a bitch to sew, but not too bad.)

I've made a few simple skirts or tops out of similar polyester fabric, simply because the print was way too fabulous and I could not resist. But those are the exceptions to my general "NO POLYESTER!" rule, which I do live by.

I love rayon fabrics (or rayon/polyester blend will do), especially the challis (lightweight) fabric. It drapes well, breaths well, and feels great. It's kind of fragile and ravelly. I sew it so I pre-shrink the fabric and it takes hand-washing well, but often store-bought rayon garments will require dry cleaning. Rayon may be a little more high maintenance compared to polyester, but it is so much nicer. (Same goes for cotton, linen, etc.)
#13
Old 12-09-2004, 11:12 PM
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Artificial fabrics also seem to attract static like nobody's business! One year, I bought two light weight nighties-one a satin polyester type material, the other was 100 percent silk. I adored the silk one and wore it-literally-to shreds. I think I wore the satiny one twice then gave it to my sister-it bunched together and stuck to me all the time, from static.
#14
Old 12-10-2004, 12:26 AM
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Nice polyesters do exist. I have a 100% polyester dress that I wore to a black tie wedding over the summer. It was not cheap (and oh, I am not kidding here! - I tried on about a zillion dresses and by the time I found one that fit and was flattering I didn't care about the price tag anymore) or poorly made. It's a lovely designer dress that I'll probably never have occasion to wear again. Unless any of you want to invite me to a black tie event?

However, most polyesters suck. They feel awful. My mom is a professional quilter, practically raised me in fabric stores, and is extremely picky about fabrics. When I was a kid she would flat out refuse to buy me clothes because she didn't like the materials. The end result is that I pretty much only wear natural fibers, at least on the upper body (shells of slacks tend to made of polyester, and they're okay). They feel like you're wearing plastic, and they don't last. Cotton or wool feel better and last longer.
#15
Old 12-10-2004, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyla
The end result is that I pretty much only wear natural fibers, at least on the upper body (shells of slacks tend to made of polyester, and they're okay).
Same here. I have polyester trousers on now because they look smooth and look like gray flannel.

But for tops, no polyester. It doesn't breathe and then I don't smell so fresh after not too long.

They are doing much better things with polyester than they used to, though.
#16
Old 12-10-2004, 01:30 PM
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I remember wearing a set of polyester boy's slacks back in the 70s, living in Wisconsin.

Those things don't keep out cold winter winds at all !

Also, supervillains wear it. See this quote from a conversation between Cobra Commander and Destro:

Quote:
Destro--"I notice a lack of polyester suits in your size..."

Cobra Commander --"Hrmph! Fashion snobbery from someone who still wears a gold chain with an open shirt!"
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#17
Old 12-10-2004, 10:32 PM
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I never had a strong preference about fabrics most of the time. The feel of natural fibers seems preferable to the feel of synthetic materials for most clothing, but not to the point that I would pay much attention. Some items it seems preferable, if used properly, can be warm in winter, but almost never comfortable in hot conditions.

The real turning point in my attitude came about when my wife had a quite severe case of eczema, and found anything other than loose cotton intolerable. This necessitated a complete revision to her wardrobe. She has since completely recovered from the skin conditions, but has never gone back to synthetics to any great extent, and carries her preference over to what she buys for me.

Now I seem to have gotten to the point where I find even relatively small percentages of polyester to be decidedly less comfortable than all natural fiber.
#18
Old 12-10-2004, 10:37 PM
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Oh, but one big advantage, the flammability! More than one of the culls were used to start the wood Stove.
#19
Old 12-10-2004, 10:37 PM
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I remember seeing pants in colors not found in nature.
#20
Old 12-11-2004, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyla
Unless any of you want to invite me to a black tie event?
My wife would raise hell, unless she can come along.
#21
Old 12-11-2004, 07:43 PM
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I think polyester just feels terrible. It looks and feels cheap and plasticy. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I'm not going to go looking.
#22
Old 12-11-2004, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi
Same here. I have polyester trousers on now because they look smooth and look like gray flannel.

But for tops, no polyester. It doesn't breathe and then I don't smell so fresh after not too long.
I don't know if this is just a male/female difference, but I'm 180 degrees opposite. I won't touch polyester pants under any circumstances. They look cheap, they're uncomfortable, and they wrinkle (and stay wrinkled) at the slightest provocation. But for dress shirts, I prefer a cotton/poly blend. All-cotton shirts are too heavy.
#23
Old 12-12-2004, 03:50 AM
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Polyester has come a long way since the horrible double-knits of the 1970's. Finer grades of polyester are just as comfortable as wool-and a lot easier to maintain! Regaeding men's shirts: my vote is for cotton-polyester! You can wear these shirts all day, with nary a wrinkle-while a 100% cotton shirt will look like you've slept in it.
I was reading that polyester and other synthetics are a lot cheaper than cotton these days, because cotton farming is getting very expensive.
One other blend I like is cotton-nylon: I find this belnd to be comfo0rtable, breathable, and wrinkle free. Of course, 100% silk is the best (but very expensive).
#24
Old 12-12-2004, 09:50 AM
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I have a couple of beautiful black polyester shirts, but they attract lint like nobody's business, especially when they're just out of the dryer.
#25
Old 12-12-2004, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad
I think polyester has the misfortune of being associated with some of the worst fashion-eras in our history. Think of the polyester leisure suits seen in 70's TV shows and it isn't to hard to see why it gets such a crappy reputation.
(from "Boogie Nights")

"That's a nice shirt."
[dirk diggler]Yeah, thanks, it's imported Italian nylon.[/dirk diggler]
#26
Old 12-12-2004, 01:50 PM
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Polyester used properly, in things like fuzzy sweatshirts and sports- and house- wear; it's the best material anyone has come up with so far. But, to my knowledge, there just is no way to make a polyester men's business suit worth more the $50.

There ain't nothin' worse than a cheap suit. If you've worn one, you know what I mean.
#27
Old 12-12-2004, 02:00 PM
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Polyester garments are spun from the bones of lepers.
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