Monthly Archives: May 2019
You may have heard the idea that we shouldn't wear white after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. We've scoured the Internet and here are the reasons not to wear white before Memorial Day:
In all fairness, some people did (and do) not wear white between September and May. And in all fairness, there are some practical as well as totally classicist reasons that may or may not have been true.
Memorial Day is generally accepted as the beginning of summer, whilst Labor Day marks its end. (Shop Mono B's #MemorialDay curated collection).
Valerie Steele, the fashion historian, curator, and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology comments that "There used to be a much clearer sense of re-entry [between the changing seasons]. You're back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you're doing in the fall - and so you have a new wardrobe."
But exactly how this fashion rule appeared is murky.
One explanation is the seasons. White (and its ilk such as ivory or ecru and other pastel colors) reflects light and heat. This is why in summer, when the sun is super bright, wearing white is such a life-saver. This was especially true before AC was invented.
"Not only was there no air conditioning, but people did not go around in T shirts and halter tops," Judith Martin, also known as the etiquette columnist Miss Manners, tells Time. "They were what we would now consider fairly formal clothes."Â Meaning, people walked around in blazers and shirts and skirts or pants. Wearing white was not only accepted - it was a way to survive.
When summer ends and rain starts and the streets become muddy, people opt for darker colors because dirty doesn't show that prominently on dark-colored clothes. What's more, dark colors absorb light and heat, a win-win solution to both keeping warm and not dirty-looking.
Clash of the Classes
Another supposed reason that gave birth to the no-white-rule is elitism. Panama hats and light-colored linens give out leisure vibes, and leisure is a luxury that a lot of the working class (those not in the upper class) can't afford. "If you look at any photography of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," says Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion. These are the working class, hurrying off to their jobs.
In the 1950s, as the working class earned more money and the nouveaux riches tried to elbow their way into the upper-class society, the old elite imposed certain rules to keep these newly minted rich people away. And yet, the nouveaux-riches crowd wanted to fit in, and so they played the games of the table manners and no-whites-in-certain-months.
But again, many of the fashion rules are meant to be broken, and we've seen a lot of bloggers telling people to not wear leggings with certain shoes or jackets or shirts. And nowadays, although white and bright clothes are a tad more difficult to maintain and wash than their darker counterparts, there is almost no reason to not wear white all year round.
You've found the right color, you've found the right print, you've found the right accent. But what does the fabric content mean?
All (good) leggings must be constructed using an elastic fiber. In most cases, it's elastane such as spandex. Spandex stretches and hugs every curve of your body. Pure spandex, however, is like a rubber band. It's sticky, it's suffocating. But pair it with another fiber like polyester, polyamide (like Nylon), or cotton, and it's golden.
Polyester and polyamide knit fabrics are breathable, although this largely depends on the weave, namely the size and number of holes, and how tightly the fibers are woven together. However, cotton still takes the crown for breathability, although not when it's wet. Wet cotton is sticky and heavy. Have you ever tried to put on a pair of 100% cotton denim pants when you're sweating? Yeah, wet and sweaty cotton leggings are probably slightly better than denim pants, but still...
Let's face it: we sweat. This is the way our bodies keep cool so we don't overheat (and die). While polyester is hydrophobic (meaning they're moisture wicking and water resistant), cotton retains water, and this leads to more than just sweat stains. This is why obstacle race guidelines always reminds you to wear polyester-based leggings (and underwear). They dry more quickly than cotton-blend leggings (and underwear). Polyamide threads are not as hydrophobic as hydrophilic (they absorb water, just not as much as cotton), they will feel cold when wet, thus keeping you cool, but it won't dry as fast as polyester.
We have four words for you: read the care label.
Try to resist the temptation to just throw in your spandex-blend leggings inside the dryer. Spandex's strands can dry out and break, causing the item to lose its stretchiness. Polyester and polyamide are still the winners when it comes to durability, but cotton that has been infused with spandex can also hold its shape for a long time, as long as they're treated with care.
This is especially relevant for those who'd like to do heat transfer such as vinyl printing on the garment (see Mono B's Private Label program). Although polyamide-blend, polyester-blend, and cotton-blend fabrics can take heat transfer, polyamide-blend fabrics will melt if the heat is too high. Polyester and cotton can hold printing better than nylon.
Then there's the prime fabric blend: Supplex® and Lycra®. These two fibers are specially crafted for performance wear. Supplex, a trademark of the brand DuPont, was patented in 1985. Fun fact, DuPont is also the company who invented Nylon, the most famous polyamide, as an alternative to silk stockings. The polymer-based Supplex has finer fibers than regular polyamide, thus making it softer and more water-repellent. Lycra is an elastane. It's lightweight, almost invisible, and stretches alongside your body during even the most rigorous activities. Our Mono B Bronze line combines Supplex with Lycra to produce pure performance wear. These leggings have stood the test of time, from HIIT sessions to muddy obstacle races.
Ultimately though, activities and temperature will dictate which leggings you need to wear for the day. Although polyester/polyamide (including Supplex) and elastane blend (including spandex and Lycra) are perfect year-round, nothing beats the comfort of lounging in a cotton-blend pair of leggings. And always remember to check the wash instructions to maximize the lifetime of your leggings.
Shop Mono B's cotton collection (including leggings and athleisure wear):