Rant & Rave

By Kimberly Lum

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Polyester’s tops for
cool wardrobe

AS I step into the atmosphere of mildew-tainted air, I breathe in a sense of history and visually take in an array of color grouped into masterful patterns of shirts and bellbottoms. Immediately I recognize a unique piece of clothing that couldn't (or perhaps wouldn't) be duplicated in the millions of clothing stores that litter the malls in 50 states.

As if in a clothing store, I walk to the counter in my Grandma's living room and offer pleading looks instead of my Mastercard. My younger brother gazes on, shrugging his Local Motion-clad shoulders and mumbling to himself how "weird" his sister is. Here, in the presence of cotton's superior, a tragedy asserts itself.

What's passed down

An unfortunate percentage of youth today, a group from which I am a soon to be retiring, remain doubtful of the amounts of coolness that comes with wearing the non-age or gender-specific style that is polyester.

Although troubled by this fact, I must take into consideration the means by which youngsters come into the mentality that polyester defines you in no other way but "dorky."

Their introduction into the world of intertwining psychedelic stripes and fluorescent flowers largely comes from their parents' embarrassing stories involving picked afros and disco dancing, free love and groovy happenings, tight pants and big clogs.

Regardless of the amount of love one might feel for one's parents, it is universally known that no adolescent in his or her right mind would assume a style mom or dad enjoyed wearing.

What is lost in the association, however, is what polyester offers on its own, free of memories of "Saturday Night Fever," the Bee Gees or John Travolta.

Better than fruitcake

There is a practical dimension to polyester long overlooked and forgotten. With the longevity of a fruitcake and the durability of an '85 Toyota Camry, polyester is among the most practical of fabrics.

We see these garments in thrift stores and the closets of older family members. These garments were created before some of us were born, yet they remain remarkably well preserved. You will find few of them bear the obvious signs of clothing age such as holes, runs, rips or other signs of decay.

These clothes can be washed, ironed, hung outside or thrown in the dryer and still maintain shape and wearability, long surpassing everyday cotton or ritzy silk.

Phat-ning your wallet

We have all been conditioned to the excruciating process of parting with money in return for the styles that set us apart from others. I have experienced firsthand the opposite when money I earned was used to purchase a shirt from Wet Seal that five other girls from school had chosen to buy.

Now, things have changed. Savers introduced me to a totally new world of shopping, with price tags that read $1.99 instead of $19.99, or on a pink tag Thursday, 99 cents, making it easier to walk out with a $20 wardrobe and a healthy bank account, allowing me to survive to shop another day.

For those in search of the unique, I suggest digging through mom's old chest and trying on those polyester tank tops. I rally for the respect and recognition of polyester as something other than outdated and itchy.

Kimberly Lum is a 1997 graduate of Castle High School
who now lives in Fremont, Calif.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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