It’s not the heat… It’s the humidity?
I recently ran across a small collection of consumer brochures from the National Institute of Drycleaning, each dating between 1949 and 1959. They are interesting because of the information about 1950s fabrics that is contained in them.
Today’s fabrics are often blends of natural and man-made fibers and are designed to control issues such as humidity and wrinkling. But in the 1950s synthetic fibers were still new, and were often unpredictable. Enter the local dry cleaner, there to solve all the problems of modern textiles.
You’ll prize your bright red clothing more “because colors do not fade in drycleaning!” And you’ll be “happy and gay with your bias cut… until a shower or cleaning brings your skirt up!” Luckily, “your drycleaner may be able to stretch it back to shape.”
“Drycleaning results in the least degree of change in the original size and measurement.” *This change depends upon fabric construction, naturally.
Chiffon may be for the soft look, but the brochure got very technical in its explanation of how the fabric was made. And contrary to what some people might have believed, chiffon was explained to be a weave, not a fiber.
By the 1950s metallic fabrics had been around for a very long time, but their care must have still been confusing to consumers. The brochure suggests that one play it safe and take metallic fabrics to a drycleaner.
Before care instructions were sewn into clothing, many garments came with hang tags that contained care directions. This brochure on jersey knits reminded consumers to save the hang tags.
And finally, consumers were reminded not to take chances with pigment printed fabrics.
Because the brochures were numbered, I know there were at least sixty-three of them written and published. Most are credited to Dr. Dorothy Siegert Lyle of the Consumer Education Division. Dr. Lyle had been a professor of home economics at Ohio State. In 1947 she was employed by the National Institute of Drycleaning, where she developed this series of pamphlets which were distributed to home ec students and to consumers by way of department stores. Dr. Lyle also wrote several books on textiles and clothing.