Polyester, that fabric so abundant in vintage shops but with such a bad reputation. Sure, it doesn’t let your skin breathe like a nice cotton or linen would and it can cause more static than a thunderstorm… but I must admit to having a soft spot for this synthetic textile in its vintage form.
Polyester use boomed in the late 60s through the 70s and 80s, as did clothes manufacturing in general, which is why you find it a lot in vintage shops nowadays.
On one level, of course polyester is BAD because it’s not biodegradable and its production pollutes the environment (though so does the production of many natural textiles, depressingly enough). I’m not saying “hey clothes producers, hit me up with some polyester clothes like nanna used to wear”, but I am saying that seen as the stuff that has already been produced is here, let’s not let it fester in charity shops or clutter up landfill. Let’s bloody well wear it!
Some vintage enthusiasts have purposely chosen to distance themselves from this type of clothing. And that’s fine, whatever floats your boat, I say. But I have a little soft spot for the shiny stuff, and here’s why…
- It doesn’t crease. I am not well acquainted with the iron so this is a win-win for me! They’re great to just chuck in an overnight bag and take out the other end perfectly crumple-free.
- It’s soft and shiny, like silk. Ok, maybe not like silk. But it does have a nice flow to it that flatters many body types, and it’s actually really comfy.
- It comes in a rainbow of colours. Man did they like colour in the 70s and 80s! Their prints are bright and bold, and they don’t fade.
- It’s easy to work with. If you want to play around with modifying a vintage dress, I’d suggest starting with something (cheap) and polyester. If you go for the thicker stuff, it doesn’t fray when cut, so you can even turn up and stitch raw edges.
- It’s in plentiful supply. This is kind of a negative into a postive thing, but the fact that there is shed loads of polyester vintage out there (most deadstock flooding the market is from the 80s) makes it easy to find if you want to add a little touch of vintage into your wardrobe.
- And finally, you don’t have to look like an old lady in it. Just because a dress is old, doesn’t mean you have to look old in it. With a few nips and tucks, most outdated clothes can be given a new lease of life.