The mere mention of the word polyester to any serious menswear enthusiast is an invitation to ridicule. Understandably so. In the 1970s polyester gained a reputation for being shiny, uncomfortable, bad-looking and bad-smelling. That reputation no longer holds true as major improvements have been made in both the performance and appearance of this seemingly ubiquitous fabric. It deserves a closer look as part of a well-curated man’s wardrobe. In fact, I am convinced that polyester is a desirable (even preferable) fabric for dress pants (or casual slacks) that are typically worn with a sport coat or whenever a dress code calls for something nicer than jeans. Here are a few reasons why:
Polyester, In the Right Weave, is Breathable and Comfortable!
Let’s do some myth-busting here. Polyester can breathe and be comfortable to wear on warm days in lighter ‘performance’ weaves. Want proof? What type of slacks will you find most professional golfers wearing at tee off? The answer: Lightweight polyester, with a bit of Elastane added for stretch. These performance slacks are lighter than cotton, wick away moisture, and maintain a neater, wrinkle-free drape than cotton. Lightweight polyester fabrics can be worn comfortably on hot summer days. Just ask Tiger Woods.
Two of my favorite pairs of dress casual slacks are from a golf wear line by Daniel Cremieux for Dillard’s (purchased second-hand on Poshmark.com). They are both made of lightweight polyester ( in tan and navy blue colors) with a well-tailored traditional fit. I often pair them with sport coats and a tie and prefer them for warm weather over traditional cotton khakis. They drape beautifully and look every bit as elegant as a pair of fine wool slacks.
Polyester Slacks Come in a Wider Range of Colors and Textures than Wool
Generally, you will find men’s wool pants in four basic colors, black, brown, grey and tan. Polyester and polyester blend dress pants are generally made in a much wider range of colors and variations. This gives you more options when matching your slacks with sport coats, sweaters, and other attire. I have a pair of pleated and cuffed off-white polyester blend slacks that work well with linen sport coats I wear during the warmer months. It would be nearly impossible to find a pair of wool slacks in that color. Plus, the polyester blend slacks hold a sharp crease better than wool while resisting wrinkling on humid days. Better polyester slacks can look just as elegant as their wool counterparts.
Polyester Slacks are Cheaper to Buy and Maintain than Wool.
Generally, you can find well-made polyester slacks for a third of the cost of their wool equivalents. What is more, they are easier to maintain. Most polyester and polyester blend slacks can be machine washed without any fear of shrinkage. All it takes is a quick steam ironing to bring back their sharp good looks. Unlike wool which generally requires dry-cleaning, you can wash polyester slacks as often as necessary.
Care Tips for Polyester Slacks
One of the fastest ways to damage polyester slacks and cause shine and scorching is to iron them with excessive heat. Always select the ‘polyester’ setting on the iron and use a pressing cloth to avoid damaging the finish of polyester slacks (this is the most common way of causing fabric shine). When machine-washing polyester pants turn them inside out. This prevents machine agitation from causing fabric shine on the exterior of your pants. If you find that your pants hold on to odors, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar or baking soda to the wash cycle. This will eliminate odors. A touch of Febreeze can do in a pinch as well.
A Cost-Effective Addition to the Well-Curated Wardrobe!
If you need modestly priced and easy-to-care-for slacks that straddle the fence between casual and dress wear, polyester and polyester blend pants in modern performance fabrics are a great choice. While I prefer that my suits and finest tailored clothing be made of natural fabrics, polyester offers good value for day-to-day wear. If, like me, you shop second-hand for clothing, you can find plenty of like-new polyester and polyester blend pants in thrift shops and online. -SplurgeFrugal!