I don’t do polyester…

What’s the first thing you look at when you spot a pretty dress in a shop? 

The price tag? Size?

I look for the washing instructions and the material composition. This is the type of information I need to have before deciding if the dress is worth my time. And if I see the words “dry clean only” or “polyester”, there’s no way I would even bother taking the dress into the fitting room.

I know I have confused quite a few well-meaning shop assistants by picking up a garment and immediately turning it inside out in my search for this vital piece of information. And I make no effort to hide my contempt if the shop assistant then advises me that “silk is so nice for summer” when the label says polyamide… In my opinion, a person working in  a fashion shop should know the difference between silk and polyester, or viscose and cupro… And fashion designers should have more respect for the consumer and stop forcing synthetic fibres on us.

polyester dresses
Beautiful dresses, but I won’t be buying any of them.
from right: Phase Eight, Esprit, MICHAEL Michael KorsVivienne Westwood Anglomania

I know I’m not exactly the average consumer: I have some training in both dress making and fashion design. Which means that I know my fabrics and materials, and I won’t settle for cheap tat, even if it comes with a designer label attached. However, this makes clothes shopping hell… ignorance really is bliss: if you have no knowledge of the differences between materials, you buy clothes because you like the style or the colour, and then think it’s normal that your clothes makes you sweaty and uncomfortable.

There are so many beautiful dresses made out of materials I won’t touch… it is getting increasingly difficult to find something that is both wearable and washable (because anything made of silk is invariably dry clean only…).

Is there a wearable and washable alternative to polyester (or polyamide), then?

I would go for viscose. Although a man-made fibre (it is made from cellulose, i.e. the same stuff as paper), it is organic. This means that in many ways it is like cotton, e.g. breathable. It also drapes well, which makes it ideal for jersey dresses. Better yet if you can find a garment made of viscose-polyester blend. Yes, a small amount of polyester is fine: it makes the garment more durable and wrinkle resistant. I would say that 2-5 percent of polyester (or elastane for stretch) is fine. Better yet if you can find a silk-polyester / elastane blend (95-98% silk), as long as it’s washable… And if you do find this rare gem, please let me know.

Let’s go for class, not brass,


Linking up with Passion for Fashion at Rachel the Hat


  1. Radostin
    29 July 2015 / 8:21 pm

    I machine wash most polyester and some silk, and hand wash all the rest of both, and have done so for twenty years. Haven't lost anything yet. Just think of the origins of silk, it is as absurd to claim it cannot be washed in water, as it is to say the same about wool (also often marked dry clean only; also perfectly water-washable). I absolutely agree about the unbearableness of polyester in the heat!

    • Tiina L
      30 July 2015 / 1:22 pm

      I agree: it's absurd to claim silk or wool cannot stand water… And I think designers should make sure their fabrics are washable, test them to see what happens. I think they just can't be bothered and stick on the dry-clean label.

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