Looking round a small exhibition of nylon used for men’s wear (arranged by British Nylon Spinners, Ltd., at their Manchester office) I began to wonder why so few men of my acquaintance wear nylon shirts. These were the answers I provided for myself: (a) that someone told them, in nylon’s early days, that after much washing nylon takes on, irrevocably and irremovably, a dingy yellowish tinge; (b) that they associate nylon with the silkiness and, worse, the transparency of women’s lingerie; (c) that they want an immaculately smooth, if not starched, shirt front, and suspect nylon of being sloppy; (d) that they just do not like the idea of wet shirts dripping all over the bathroom.
Some of the objections are already outdated, others are on the way to being so. Nylon, as every woman knows, has now countless surface guises. It need by no means be either silky, shiny, or sloppy. It can be firm enough for a pique finish dress shirt. It can be as fluffy as angora wool, or it can have the warm, smooth touch of, say, winceyette or delaine. The shirtings which this wife would expect her husband to approve have the appearance of poplins, with pin stripes of blue, grey, red, or green. They are not shiny or silky, and they have a nice “body.” Shirtings line-checked in bright colours on cream look attractive for cold days.
What few men outside the textile industry seem to realise is the widespread use now of “textured” nylons. Most of these attractive shirtings, for example, are made of Taslan, which is, literally, a “blown up” nylon yarn. That is to say, the multi-filament yarn is passed through an air jet which creates loops in the individual filaments. This gives more body, bulk, and opacity. There is no doubt at all that most men’s ideal shirt material is cotton poplin, and nylon will only please them when it is similarly smooth, matt, crisp, and opaque. (The thought of a shirt which reveals the outline of the vest below is, understandably, appalling to them.) Taslan has gone further than is generally known towards achieving the ideal. Has it quite achieved it?
As for the matter of nylon’s daily dip, my sympathies are entirely with the reluctant male. Nylon should, undoubtedly, be washed daily, if worn in the grime of an industrial city. Does the tired business man slosh it through in the bathroom basin, rinse, and drape over the edge of the bath or over the towel rail, to leave a puddle on the floor which is bound before long to rot the linoleum? Or does he leave it for his wife to run through in the morning? She would undoubtedly rather do her washing in bulk, however thankful she is to lighten the load of her ironing. Someone should surely put on the market a drying gadget which can be fixed to any wall (whether tiled, painted, or varnish-papered) and whose arms are made to take shirts and blouses hanging completely straight, and should market along with it a “drip tray” to protect bathroom and kitchen floors.
Against one use for nylon in men’s clothes I can find no single word of male objection or doubt – as a strengthener of pocket materials. A cotton material with 15 per cent of nylon showed no sign of a hole even after 30,000 “rubs,” whereas an ordinary cotton pocketing was worn to a hole after 12,000 rubs across the welt, 15,000 across the warp. A pocket which will keep his money safe as long as the suit lasts? That would be something to thank nylon for!
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