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Monday, 12 October 2015

Crimplene trousers

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This morning found me in a stall full of vintage clothes. Vintage clothes are much the same as charity shop clothes but more expensive. Often much more expensive.

I’d spotted a waistcoat, almost brand new in appearance, hardly been worn from the look of it. I examined it. Buttons okay, general exterior pristine, lining just as good. Next the label. That looked brand new too... Arrrggg... Crimplene!

Crimplene (polyester) is a thick yarn used to make a fabric of the same name. The resulting cloth is heavy, wrinkle-resistant and retains its shape well. Britain's defunct ICI Fibres Laboratory developed the fibre in the early 1950s and named it after the Crimple Valley in which the company was situated. Crimplene was used in garments that required a permanently pressed look, such as skirts and trousers.

Developed by ICI eh? Remember ICI? The waistcoat had a prominent ICI logo on the label.

A pair of Crimplene trousers were easily the worst trousers I ever bought. This would be the early seventies. Brown they were, a seventies colour. We even painted one of our ceilings brown. I’d been looking for a reasonably smart pair of trousers for work – my first full time job. A pair of Crimps as we later called them seemed just the job.

Problem one was the plucking. If I brushed against anything less smooth than a snooker ball they plucked. Long fluffy brown threads emerged like peculiar growths and I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I wasn’t too keen on cutting them off in case the whole trouser just kept on unravelling. I think I burnt off one or two, hoping to cauterise the wound before trouser gangrene set in.

Unfortunately plucking wasn’t the worst problem. Buying them in winter was the worst problem because Crimplene has absolutely no wind resistance. Even a moderate December breeze felt like strolling around the Arctic in underpants. The trousers may as well not have existed apart from the need to keep up appearances.

In those days I couldn’t afford to discard unsatisfactory trousers as I would today, but soon enough they went the way of all fashions. My future wife thought they were a hoot which much must signify something. 

11 comments:

Demetrius said...

I assume you did not try wearing a crimplene frock? A lot of ladies did, but it soon became a material preferred only by the plebian classes. My spouse, who made most of her own clothes, would not touch the stuff.

Sackerson said...

Hated the stuff.

Sam Vega said...

I've got a slight head cold, the nights are drawing in, and you've just reminded me about crimplene.

Thanks.

Michael said...

This must have been around the time of brown ladies' nighties and other stuff!

Never really took off that did it...

Does it all explain why there are fewer children of a certain age...?

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - I don't think a crimplene frock would suit my hairy legs. The hem would snag.

Sackers - so did I, shortly after buying those trousers.

Sam - head cold eh? Have you tried a crimplene vest?

Michael - I'm not so sure. Many men must have been very keen to divest themselves of those trousers at any opportunity.

Macheath said...

You bring up painful memories; my grandmother - a former dressmaker - insisted on making me a party dress for the school Christmas party in 1973. Interminable hours perched on a chair and festooned with pins and newspaper patterns resulted in a cap-sleeved appliqué-ridden monstrosity in lurid pink Crimplene which has haunted me ever since.

wiggiatlarge said...

Problem one was the plucking. If I brushed against anything less smooth than a snooker ball they plucked. Long fluffy brown threads emerged like peculiar growths and I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I wasn’t too keen on cutting them off in case the whole trouser just kept on unravelling. I think I burnt off one or two, hoping to cauterise the wound before trouser gangrene set in.

Reminds me of a similar problem during that period of time, the hand knitted mohair sweater ! my old mum spent weeks knitting and putting together the infernal thing at great cost, only for me on the first time out in it to snag on the girl I was dancing with, disentangling resulted in her having more mohair than me, especially on her jewelry, didn't see much of the mohair sweater afterwards, but saw a lot more of the girl, I married her !


Sackerson said...

Fabulous, snagged the girl, job done!

James Higham said...

Appalling decade in general.

A K Haart said...

Mac - pink crimplene? Marked for life.

James - it was and with hindsight it just gets worse.

A K Haart said...

Wiggia - nice story, it's surprising how a bad start can become a bond.