New materials officewear: dirt-shedding, hydrophobic, breathing, stretchy, odor-absorbing


“Do you dress left or right, sir?”
“Why, it’s left, my good man.”
“Are you sure? It looks to be right.”
“Why, you are right, my good man, it isn’t left, it is right.”
“So, what’s left?”
“The jacket.”


sound of head exploding


What does “more stretchy than cotton” mean? Cotton isn’t stretchy – t-shirts and the like are stretchy because they’re knit and have spandex in them, not because of the cotton.

Sounds oversold to me.

“slacks with invisible, breathable crotch-venting”

Although I can see why this would be a good thing, seeing those words in that order makes me shudder a little…


Proof of William Gibson’s “Pants Prescience.”

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NUH-UH. After that indecent exposure charge there’s no way I get suckered into buying pants with an “invisible crotch” again.


Action slacks! Outta sight!


It’s curious to me that modern day officewear is a pale shadow of the “suits” of ages past. What is now an expensive formal dress code that exists purely for aesthetic was once practical and affordable outdoors wear designed to keep you dry and warm.

Woolen jackets and felt hats weren’t merely fashion statements, they were all-weather gear treated to repel water and insulate against the cold. People wore them everywhere, everyday, from strolling down urban streets, to hiking up the side of a forested mountain.

Of course, leave it to the enlightened modern age to stubbornly cling to the form of these old garments, but not the substance. Hats are now out of style, despite the fact that people still get rained on and a good hat will keep you very nicely dry. Suits are now mere drapery, trading practical weather protection for nothing more than a specific appearance that is - for some mysterious reason - treated as nearly universal shorthand for “this person is trustworthy and/or hard working”.

I for one look forward to these new textile developments - it’d be rather nice to have suits that once again serve their original practical purpose!


We already have this. It’s called polyester.


I actually wanted to buy a couple of their shirts. Sadly, I’m not a lissome young thing, and they don’t make clothes for our middle-aged, pouchier citizens. Drat!


Sans-a-Belt has had this covered since like the 1950’s, I think. And celebrities like Mike Ditka and Dick Van Dyke are on board.


Sansabelt has the most spartan company website I’ve ever seen.

“Products available in either non-carcinogenic or flame-retardant weaves, but not both. Odor absorption not effective at human body temperatures. Hydrophobic properties induced via synthetic rabies virus impregnated-fibres.”


Can the return of Sans-a-Belt be far behind?

We already have those. What we need is odor-repelling socks.


This is going to be dead useful as I slog my way uphill in the rain through 10 miles of jungle to the office.

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But if there’s a fire is it melty?

Why would you need stretchy? Are you going to work or doing an all male review in a dance club?
And frankely—we don’t want see you wearing skin tight stretch work pants. Well, most of you anyways.
Odor absorbing, I do not need my pants to be charcoal filters—should that even be an issue for work clothes?

WTF is wrong with natural fibers…we already had evil polyester pants of doom in the 70’s.


And Johnny Carson!

Endorsements from the grave always win me over.

Synthetics are good for activewear, and really shine for applications like tents and other camping gear - in those cases utility trumps aesthetics for reasonable people; even though clothing for sports and outdoors stuff that was once an epitome of cool is now absolutely atrocious in their modern versions… they work better than the old stuff.

But I have yet to see a modern synthetic material that’s usable as regular casual or office wear, though better-quality blends are sometimes OK. I have some “leggings jeans” from Uniqlo that are 81% cotton, 17% polyester, 2% spandex, and they are supremely comfortable and look good - though after a long day of wearing them, you feel the polyester - it irritates your skin and hairs in a way cotton doesn’t.

That said, there is clearly room for improvement over the standard natural materials like cotton and wool. The issues they’re trying to address here are real issues for many people. I don’t doubt that these clothes work to alleviate those problems specifically.

But the other obvious problem with synthetic materials for casual and dressy clothing is that they look bad. Almost always slightly shiny (if not outright glossy), and always inelegant. And that’s the case here - the closeups of the shirt material on their site reveal that it looks like a finer-weave version of what’s used in modern polyester golf shirts, which look awful, and the way these shirts drape is similar to that (except when worn nearly-skin-tight on one of the models, which might be the point). The pants look a little better (the chinos, not the dress trousers, which look odd), I guess.

The thing is, though, modern cotton and wool and other natural fabrics are really good… and breathable… durable and easy to clean… inexpensive… and stretchy if you want. Some of the bad qualities they’re trying to address here (like breathability) are mainly an issue of older-style polyester blends, not decent-quality natural materials!

I like that people are working on new materials, though - and I’m sure that these are actually better than I’m unfairly assuming. There are some interesting new technical fabrics that work for casual wear, including things William Gibson wears and mentions on twitter sometimes. We’ll get there with synthetics that are better than natural fabrics, and I look forward to it - but for now natural materials rule the day on all counts.

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