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{09/01/2013}   What clothes are made of

I sweat more than the average person (I have a condition, hyperhidrosis) and have had years to adjust various habits accordingly.  For me, pretty much every day is a steam room day and it really isn’t pleasant.  I used to buy whatever shirts and tops I liked, but I now know that colours in between white and black can’t be worn as sweat shows up on them.  All is made far worse when man made fibres are added to the mix for, to put it bluntly and mildly, they make me smell.  So, unsurprisingly, I buy natural fibres, particularly for tops.  But have you ever read the labels on clothes you buy and thus realised how difficult it is to find tops that are 100% natural?  I suspect not, unless you’re a sweater too!

Yesterday, I went on a mini top shop (though not to Top Shop) in pursuit of a few simple tops for work.  One of the first shops I tried was Monsoon.  All their “pretty” tops were made of 100% viscose or 100% polyester.  I did, however, get a couple of simple cotton tops, though one was from the nightwear section.  Viscose and polyester seems to retain body odours.  Viscose is made from leftovers from the wood and cotton industry and is a man made fibre not designed to last long.  Polyester is made from the same materials as the plastics we recycle in the form of PET bottles.  It’s no wonder these materials don’t allow smells to disperse.

It annoys me that a seemingly woollen jumper will be largely or partly viscose, I assume to make it cheaper but with the draw of it being a quality [part] wool product.  Wool keeps you warm, the viscose part is nowhere near as effective.  I went to Lapland for a week of snowy activities a few Januaries ago (one of the best holidays ever – husky sledding, reindeer and sleighing, snow mobiling, ice fishing, cross country skiing; the bollocks!) and we were given a long list of things to bring and cold weather advice.  On day one it was -20c and I had to blink furiously to stop my eyelashes freezing.  We were given thermal onesie type things and a lot of hardcore thermals but the best advice they gave was to bring a pure wool layer.

I have a work shirt that I actually quite like but 20% is man made fibres.  It makes me smell and I have finally realised that it will always make me a tad kiffy so I have chucked it.  Yesterday, I bought some 100% cotton tops and two silk vest tops that I figure I can wear under a cardigan.  I now have quite a line in either wool or cotton cardigans (no twin sets, I’m not that frumpy … quite!) for I have also, over the sweat years, realised that layers really are the way forward.

I do get on my high horse a bit about the quality of material used for clothing but I really do find it sad that materials such as viscose and polyester are now pretty much the fibres of choice in the clothing and textile industry, I suspect largely because they are easy to mass produce and are cheap and nowadays I’m pretty sure a lot more clothes get thrown out rather than recycled/given away than used to be.  I also put that down to the use of polyester thread rather than cotton.  I have dyed many a shirt (usually on discovery that sweat marks can be seen – so dye them black) and discovered the cotton has taken the dye but the thread hasn’t and when the shirt is black and the thread is white, you really get to see how poorly made the clothes are.

So today, I am wearing a lovely pair of pure new wool trousers, a silk vest top and a cotton cardigan and my hope is I will be smell-free all day!

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