In foreign countries you would ask for Elastine. If you only want a DuPont product, you would choose the trade marked brand name Lycra. If the fiber is made by other manufacturers than DuPont, you ask for Spandex. The terms all represent the same basic stretchy fabric used in sports clothes, swimsuits, jeans, and even fitted sheets. In 1959, DuPont invented this smooth, light weight fabric made from synthetic polymers.
Don’t like pants that bag and sag? Look for a version of Spandex. Spandex can stretch up to five times its length and then return to its original shape. It also resists abrasion. Its smooth texture makes it ideal for any product where a good fit and flexibility enhances its function. However, it does have a few negatives. By itself it does not wick moisture, it holds odors, and it doesn’t respond well to heat. If you iron it, it may melt, but It has come a long way since 1959. When blended with natural fabrics like cotton it becomes breathable, resists odors, and with proper care, it can be ironed.
Handwash Spandex products such as yoga clothing in cool water and hang to dry. If handwashing just isn’t your thing, place in a lingerie bag and choose the gentle cycle on your washing machine. Avoid any fabric softener. It leaves a residue on the fiber that reduces its sheen and stretch, while also attracting odor. The chemicals used in dry cleaning have a similar effect. Baking soda can be added to wash water to reduce odor if garments need it.
Spandex helps achieve a better fit while providing comfortable movement and durability. Not only will you see more of it used in fashion, but in the future, look for Spandex in furniture coverings, shoes, and even building materials.
Nancy Pride owns Morgan Fitzgerald’s and Merle Norman located at 3800 S. Texas Avenue, Bryan, one mile north of University Drive. 979 268 0608, www.fitzyou.com.