THE LOST JOY OF POLYESTER

Life in Leisure Suits

Back in the 1970s, some clown decided that men were overdressed and need stretchy, comfortable clothing. And thus they invented the polyester leisure suit and to his immense embarrassment, Garry had one. I never saw it, but I know he bought it because he said so and what man would lie about a thing like that? He wore it to work, but I never saw it. Maybe that is just a well. Garry is such a clothes horse, maybe he carried it off.


Leisure suits came in slightly stretchy polyester (throw it in the wash, hang it, and wear it) fabric. Light blue was very popular and some were truly indescribable. I owned some clothing that was a little embarrassing, but I mostly I’m not fashionable. My mother made me amazing clothing which I didn’t appreciate. It was well-made, and elegant, but I looked like I came from another planet. It didn’t make me more popular in high school. By college, I began to appreciate it.

I never owned a leisure suit because, for me, a leisure suit means a pair of yoga pants and a sweatshirt. That’s what I’m wearing now. It’s what I wear. Most importantly, it’s virtually immune to dog hair.



Categories: Culture, Fashion

Tags: , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. You have to admit, the idea behind those suits was a good one, even though polyester is a somewhat repellent fabric. It does last almost forever, which is both a good thing and a bad one. I notice now even men’s casual pants have incorporated some stretchiness. Comfort is essential the middle-aged and retired!

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    • I think these days, they use small amounts of “stretchy” to a much larger amount of cotton. Spandex, which I’m sure is a close relative of polyester. I think Garry was also intrigued by a suit he could wash! Not that he washed it. I’m sure he took it to the cleaners. He used to take EVERYTHING to the cleaners, but then again his apartment didn’t have a washer/dryer hookup and there weren’t machines in the basement, either.

      I completely agree. My comment at the beginning of my retirement — long before quarantine — was that “once you go ‘stretch’ you’ll never go back.” Even my jeans are stretchy, though they don’t look it. My coats, on the other hand, don’t stretch. So far, anything with a lining doesn’t stretch. But I hate tight clothing and especially, tight waistbands. And I like being able to move around without feeling squeezed all through the middle. I LOVE yoga pants, though now that my jeans stretch, I love them even more!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My brother has a bizarre pink and rose plaid leisure suit that he picked up at a thrift store some years ago and wears for “special” occasions. His buddy has a bright yellow tux with attached ruffles in black. The two of them are quite the pair. Their wives groan when they have an outing.

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    • Garry had one really expensive (black) tux he wore until it got a bit threadbare. Hell, he can still wear his Marine Corp dress suit from when he was 17! That he still HAS that outfit is amazing. I don’t own any clothing from that long ago.

      Garry says HIS leisure suit was cream/off-white and it wasn’t one of those cheesy off the rack suits. He was such a clothes horse, he didn’t wear off-the-rack clothing until he retired. Now, you can’t get him INTO a suit. Me, on the other hand? I always thought if you paid full price (I like expensive clothing on sale — clearance if possible), you were getting ripped off. Mom told me so. When I shopped, I used to get some amazing bargains for him AND me, but at some point, I didn’t want to go shopping. It wasn’t Amazon’s fault, either.

      Brick & mortar stores — even expensive ones — seemed to think we’d come even if they offered NO service. After a while, ordering on line as it became available in the ’90s, was lots easier, especially when returns were easy.

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  3. I had a part-time job in the Men’s Dept at Abraham & Strauss. Of course I bought my dad a pale blue leisure suit. He wore it well.

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  4. I think they are still using it, they just call it something fancy now!

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  5. Okay, yeah, I admit it. There was a time that I owned a line green polyester leisure suit. It’s not something I’m proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lime green is one of those colors that looks just terrible on me. I look lime green in lime green. I think it was the beginning of more comfortable clothing for me — just as pants suits were the first time a woman could dress up in the winter and not be freezing. Also, although women still wear really high heels, low heels are no longer completely out of fashion. Which is good because I’ve forgotten how to wear heels. I don’t remember how to balance on them. Even on wide heels.

      Falling down is not elegant.

      Liked by 1 person

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