Polyester or Spandex

Discussion in 'Shoes and Apparel' started by Boricua, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    I am looking at polyester or polyester with spandex apparel. What is the advantage of having spandex combined with the polyester?
     
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  2. kimguroo

    kimguroo Hall of Fame

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    The difference is stretch of fabric. Can't say that poly/spandex has advantages.
    There are so many different quality of fabrics and people has various preferences. When I choose fabrics for apparels, I prefer soft poly/spandex fabric for shirts (88%-90 poly/10-12% spandex) and 100% poly for shorts.
     
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  3. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    But,explain "stretch of fabric"? I supose spandex provides more stretch. Does this extra stretch make the shirt a better fit or what is the purpose of that extra stretch?
     
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  4. djdannyj25

    djdannyj25 New User

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    I like the Nike shirts that are a combination of spandex and polyester because the material is so comfortable and soft. You can really tell the difference compared to 100% polyester.
     
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  5. corners

    corners Legend

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    In the old days tennis attire was made of knit cotton. Nowadays shirts and shorts tend to be made of woven polyester. There are two things here, material and construction.

    Cotton is very soft and comfortable. It also absorbs lots of water. On a hot day this can be kind of nice, because the shirt will absorb your sweat and the evaporation will keep you cool. If it's cold out a cotton shirt can be a disaster, as it will rapidly cool your body. For this reason cotton is never used in the wilderness, by backpackers or climbers for example. Cotton is also not particularly durable.

    Polyester can be made into very, very thin strands or threads. When these strands are woven together a "microfibre" fabric can be made that is almost as soft to the touch as cotton fabric, even though polyester is, after all, plastic. The great virtue of polyester is that it is hydrophobic - it does not absorb moisture.

    Cottons shirts in the old days were knitted. A knit fabric has a loose connection between adjacent yarns, so even if the material itself has no inherent stretch, the fabric will have a great amount of stretch. This means it can be tailored quite close to the body for a neat and sporty appearance but the stretch quality will allow freedom of movement. Take a look at old photos or videos of Borg. He wore tight-fitting knitted cotton shirts. The biggest disadvantage of knitted fabrics is that, because they a rather loosely connected, leaving large air gaps in between the yarns, they don't stop the wind at all. This can be nice in the heat, as the fabric is very "breathable", but terrible if it's cool and windy. Also, the actual cotton fibre absorbs water, or sweat, and when it does it tends to swell. A wet cotton shirt will actually stop allowing air to flow through because water or sweat has expanded the yarns so much that all the air gaps within and between the fibres become closed off. There is actually an old type of waterproof garment made of cotton. The idea is that when it gets wet the water will fill up all the spaces inside the weave and not allow any more water to get through. Of course this is a very heavy way to create a waterproof garment.

    Polyester, on the other hand, is almost always woven. Weaving yarn is much different than knitting it. In a weave there is very little movement or play between adjacent yarns. The strings in your racquets are woven. Now imagine if, instead of 1cm gaps between the strings, there were no gaps at all and the strings were tightly packed against each other. There are still little gaps or holes at the intersections of where the strings/yarns meet, but they are very small. A woven polyester fabric, then, is naturally wind-resistant, which can be a good thing. Also, the weave can be done in a special way that uses the process of capillary action to "wick" water from the inner surface to the outer surface. So when you sweat the liquid is wicked to the surface of the shirt where it can evaporate away from your body. Since it evaporates away from your body rather than on your skin, it doesn't cool you off as well. This is great if it's very cold, but might not be ideal when it's hot. (If it's hot you can put the shirt on inside out and the wicking action will keep the sweat on the inside of the shirt. This helps cool you off but feels weird.)

    The big downside to a woven fabric is that it has no inherent stretch. A polyester woven fabric is particularly bad because polyester as a material is quite stiff and doesn't stretch much. So in the old days polyester shirts had to be made baggy. To make polyester shirts that do stretch a special yarn is created. This yarn has a strand of spandex (elastane) in the center, surrounded by very thin strands of polyester that wrap or coil tightly around it. This type of yarn can be very durable and strong but the spandex core allows it to elongate. Some yarns like this can elongate 50% of their resting length. These yarns can then be woven very tightly so that they block the wind, but because the yarns themselves have elastic ability the woven fabric can still stretch to accomodate your movement. This type of fabric is call "stretch-woven." Stretch-woven fabrics were originally developed by the Swiss for clothing worn by mountain climbers. These guys wanted tight-fitting, tough and wind-resistant clothing that wouldn't get caught on rocks or whipped about by the wind, but that also didn't impede their movement.

    Stretch-wovens are now used in athletic clothing for athletes that want to look sexy and lithe. The tightness of the weave can adjusted so that it is more air permeable or more breathable so it not as hot as the stuff mountain-climbers wear. The thickness or gauge of the yarns is also much smaller for athletic clothes because there are no sharp rocks around.

    So the purpose of the extra stretch is freedom of movement. Of course you could always just buy a bigger shirt, like Sampras wore, and you'd still have freedom of movement, but then you'd have no chance to look as sexy and badass as Derek Zoolander or Sloane Stephens.

    But polyester is evil: It doesn't absorb water, which is awesome. But it does absorb oil. What the what? So the oils that seep out of your armpits and crotch will penetrate the strands of polyester and stay there. Since water can't penetrate these areas, when you wash the shirt it never gets completely clean. Your body oils stay stuck in the shirt or shorts and bacterial colonies start to live and eat in the oil. These bacteria start to take dumps and usually their dumps smell. Even if you use bleach or something to try and kill the bacteria, usually the reek of their **** stays behind. Eventually, even though polyester shirts are super-durable and could probably last ten or twenty years, you have to throw them out because they stink so bad. Of course, the big 4 don't have to worry about this because they only wear their shirts once. Kind of like polyester strings, I guess.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
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  6. Dberger820

    Dberger820 Rookie

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    Wow. Epic answer.

    My one redeeming quality of the polyester/spandex is that it seems to hold less static cling.
     
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  7. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Wow, thanks for educating me about polyester clothing..
    No wonder why my match poly shirts smell every time I get home...
     
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  8. paul_tennis

    paul_tennis Rookie

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    Wow, great answer corners. Also very interesting info!
     
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  9. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Corners,

    Can you provide a more detailed write up next time? :) I do have 1 area where I differ from your explanation. In the "winter" we have here in Florida, I will wear heavy cotton shirts when it gets cold out. For me, the poly shirts let through so much air I get colder in them. Since I'm not sweating much anyways, the thicker cotton keeps me warmer.
     
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  10. tistrapukcipeht

    tistrapukcipeht Professional

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    I agree with you, in the cold there is just no way to play with poly shirts, too cold, in fact I have not used one of my shirts in 2 months or so. Maybe the very cool yonex thing is true, when it is around 60F it feels cool.

    Corners, excellent post, thank you.
     
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  11. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    I'm getting ADHD reading this thread.

    In simple terms, shirts with Spandex in them eg. Nike Federer polos, are stretchy, hug the body more rather than being looser fit, but tend to "cling" (rather uncomfortably I might add) when you're sweating alot.

    Personally I prefer a 100% poly shirt, ideally with a looser cut or some venting/mesh to it.
     
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  12. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    Great explanation. I had a Borg shirt when I was a kid. I loved it. And, Ill have to smell my "clean" polyester shirts today.
     
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  13. Boricua

    Boricua Hall of Fame

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    :)
    "For me, the poly shirts let through so much air I get colder in them. Since I'm not sweating much anyways, the thicker cotton keeps me warmer."

    Wear wool then.:)
     
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  14. uabucks

    uabucks Rookie

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    the advantage of non-cotton is that the shirts are lighter and wick the moisture. Once cotton gets drenched with sweat, forget it--
    its heavy, drippy and uncomfortable.
     
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  15. corners

    corners Legend

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    Next time I'll include kevlar undergarments.

    Yeah, poly shirts vary a lot in the density of their weaves. So some of them are extremely air-permeable. But your cotton shirts are probably warmer simply because they are thicker and so offer more insulation. And if you're not sweating there is nothing wrong with cotton. They do make thick woven polyester - fleece. But if it's at all windy, insulation becomes useless without a wind-resistant layer on top. In the olden days the only recourse against the wind was to put more and more layers of heavy wool on. But when active you don't really need insulation unless it's below 50 F, so in cool and windy conditions a wicking shirt under a wind-resistant jacket will keep you more comfortable than 4pounds of wool sweater. I guess that's why they make warm-up jackets:roll:
     
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  16. grolson1993

    grolson1993 Rookie

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