12.31.2012

Better Clothing Through Chemistry

Ad from 1964 Ladies' Home Journal for Orlon fabric, showing a high fashion woman's suit.
I admit it, I used to be a natural fibers snob. You would not have caught me dead wearing orlon next to my Birkenstocks. 

Orlon is an acrylic fiber developed by DuPont in 1941. A number of synthetic fibers from that time period were very much akin to wearing a plastic shower curtain that had been crossed with a burlap sack. None too appealing.

Man made fibers have come a long way in the intervening decades, for which we are all grateful. Some developments in fibers and dyes are helpful, while others are just a little strange. 

In the early 1990s, someone came up with thermochromic dyes that cause the clothes you are wearing to change color relative to how hot or cold the fabric was on different parts of the wearer. Think mood ring for your t-shirt. Called Hypercolor clothing, the results were sometimes interesting, and occasionally embarrassing. 

I am thinking this sort of thing would be pretty cosmic on a menopausal woman. It might be great to have as a sort of integrated advanced warning system for my family. Something that would go from a serene blue to hot red when I have a hot flash could easily save my family from making the mistake of telling me that they need a scout uniform cleaned 15 minutes before leaving the house, or that they forgot that they need to bring a dessert to the church party to which we are already en route. 

Perhaps, however, the change would be too subtle to grab the attention of my occasionally inattentive family members. I'll have to look forward to the melding of clothing and neon for that.


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