While the fad for easy-care clothing continues, I was recently intrigued by a new offering from a well-known retailer, Chico’s – a white cotton shirt that repels stains, specifically red wine. The brands marketing targets midlife women, which might suggest we are clumsier than our younger counterparts, or perhaps we drink too much resulting in a few tipsy spills?
As the owner of a fabric care business for the past sixteen years (The Ironing Lady), I am very familiar and thankful for our ‘easy-care’ wash-and-wear world evolved from the mixology of man-made and natural fibers. Lycra, spandex, and polyester among others are a girl’s best friend in more ways than one! What I am not enthusiastic for is ‘easy-care’ as it relates to chemically treated… remember the rigid fabric that was coated in formaldehyde to create the permanent-press non-iron shirt? Likewise, stain repellent hasn't always been in the most pleasing forms... think Scotchgard!
Naturally, I was curious about the new blouse on the block and how it saves an unruly middle-aged woman from the embarrassment of tossing red wine about her person!
Natural fibers such as cotton, silk or wool are porous and often feel comfortable to wear because of their natural ability to breath. To avoid stains being absorbed, the fabric must be coated in something so that the offending wine will not stay, but likely trickle its way down to your non-stain repellent skirt. Oops!
If a natural fiber such as cotton is coated with something that prevents its natural behavior, it probably doesn't feel natural either, therefore, defeating the object of the fibers naturally occurring benefits such as breathability and comfort.
how does it work?
The latest buzz phrase being tossed about along with lashings of red wine (apparently) is ’Powered by stain shield technology'. This technology surpasses the Scotchgard protection by leaps and bounds, or should I say by pots and pans. Rest assured, your drinking problem is not being kept a secret by the good grace of the wine gods, but by the super-coating of a Teflon spray. Yes, the same hardy synthetic resin that coats nonstick pans! Teflon is known as a perfluorinated compound (PFC) chemical and is one of the most persistent chemicals known.
The wine-proof 'no-iron' (laugh here) shirt is chemically treated by a coating of Teflon thus altering it from its natural cotton state. Yet the brand claims that the nonstick non-iron shirt is breathable! How is this possible, Teflon is not breathable?
And, the sugar-coating to the super-coating? You guessed it, this Teflon shirt is environmentally friendly (really?) by reducing toxins because it doesn’t have to be dry cleaned! Ahem, just a heads up, (from the experience of a fabric care expert), a white shirt in any form would be the last thing I would give to a dry cleaner, whether it has red wine stains or not. Oh, did I mention, you can remove red wine from a white cotton shirt, even one that is not coated in a chemical non-biodegradable substance which is harmful to the environment whichever way you look at it. Just saying!
It was admitted that the Teflon coating wears off within 30 washes. In other words, the ‘benefit’ of the shirt has a limited lifespan. Like Cinderella it will morph back into a normal cotton shirt. Hopefully washing is the only thing Teflon wears off with, and not body perspiration, PH or long term wearing. Given the number of chemicals we are already exposed to in daily life, I would be skeptical wearing Teflon close to my skin (our biggest organ) especially under the armpits.
The jury may still be out on whether Teflon applied to clothing is harmful. John Gotti (former mob boss) would appreciate this shirt, after all his nickname was The Teflon Don… oh wait, does it repel blood stains? Personally, I feel that wine spillage or any stain on a shirt is the least of my worries compared to wearing nonstick Teflon. So, unless you plan on going into battle with a winery or intend to ‘whack’ someone, I recommend proceeding with caution!
Here's how to remove red wine from chemical-free natural cotton :
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50