|Day two in Colonial Williamsburg – it was pouring down rain all day.
This post will probably ruffle some feathers, but I feel compelled to report on my experience concerning faux silk – yup, polyester, the fake stuff – and the day I was never so happy to have a polyester dress in my life.
I have been to Colonial Williamsburg three times now, three different times of year, and each time it has rained.
I hate the rain, but my silk gowns hate the rain even more. I will survive, but silk taffeta dresses will not. So what’s a pretty pretty princess to do? I wasn’t about to sit home and mope – I flew all the way across the country to play dress-up in Williamsburg, and by golly, I wasn’t going to let a little rain stop me!
Except it did stop me. I was freaking miserable. My feet were wet, my epic silk bonnet was soaked, my cotton petticoat was sagging, but what still looked great?
…my faux silk dress.
|This dress is completely soaked – you can see it’s a little darker where it is most wet, but it still retained its puff in the skirt
Now, not all polyester taffeta is created equal. There is a lot of poor-quality faux silks out there, fabrics that look as fake as they are, that are difficult to sew, that have poor hand and no crush factor. These, I implore you, are to be avoided.
But there are *good* faux silks out there too. Really good. Can-hardly-tell-the-difference good. Easy to sew, easy to press, correct sheen. These polyesters are fantastic fabrics to use for wet-weather costuming.
Polyester is an interesting fabric. It’s hydrophobic, which means that moisture is dispersed evenly through the fibers. So when the rain attacked me in my red dress, I was wet through, but you couldn’t tell by looking at me. The faux silk did not keep me dry, but the fit, shape, and puff of the gown were unaffected. Most importantly, I did not worry about the dress, whereas if I had chosen to wear The Creature that day, it would have been utterly, permanently melted within minutes.
|We’re smiling, somehow. I was happy to be inside.
The argument, of course, is to wear natural, historical fibers like linen, cotton, and wool. Fair enough, and I agree, but there are also times when you just want to be a princess. There are times when your treasury may not allow for a real silk gown. There are times when it’s going to rain on your holiday, but you’re still going to get dressed and go out. Those are the times for a good faux silk gown.
There are times not for a good faux silk gown, too. Skip the faux silk when it’s going to be hot. Skip it when you’re attending an event where you may be scrutinized for historical accuracy. Avoid faux silks if you are going to be interacting with fire, open flame, ovens, etc. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason in choosing a faux silk over a real one or another fiber, skip it.
How to choose a good faux silk? The best way is to take a piece of real silk taffeta with you when you visit the fabric store. Be very diligent in comparing the real and the faux:
- look at the sheen – avoid shot (iridescent) poly taffetas
- avoid anything that looks or feels like plastic
- compare the fabric weights and hands (drape)
- crumple the fabric in your fist and see how it reacts when released. You want it to “crush,” not spring back to its original shape right away.
- try the upholstery section rather than the fashion fabrics