You are here

Yarns Spun Here: Polyester = Disco

Do you still have your polyester suit from 1977?

CHICAGO — “Polyester!”

There. I said it.

Is there a disco ball flashing round-and-round in your memory right now?!

Don’t go running away. (And for gosh sakes don’t go running to your closet to find your disco-era shirt.)

Polyester’s source is petroleum, as author Norman Oehlke states in his book Complete Spotting Guide & More (published by American Drycleaner and available at

Polyester, as Wikipedia points out, can be a thermoplastic, “depending on the chemical structure.”

It is a category of polymer that contains, “the ester functional group in their main chain,” Wikipedia continues, adding that it can include, “naturally occurring chemicals, such as in the cutin.” (Cutin’s basically a waxy polymer that covers a plant’s surface).

Wikipedia notes that polyester also contributes to the making of bottles, films and canoes. (Canoes!?!)

Oehlke writes: “It can feel lightweight like silk; has a great affinity for oily stains; is wrinkle-resistant; retains creases and pleats (often labeled permanent pleat); is often blended with wool, rayon and cotton used in making microfibers.

“It has good dimensional stability and is strong; usually very colorfast to dry cleaning and washing.”

Neither of the sources mention how well it looked as a disco suit, flashing on the crowded dark dance floor, under a spinning, sparkling disco ball, flooded by blinking colored lights synched-up to 70s disco music. (I can almost hear Donna Summer singing, in grief-ridden tones, “Someone left the cake out in the rain....”)

If you still have your polyester suit from 1977, well, just take my advice and keep that to yourself. Disco is probably not apt to be coming back anytime soon. Or ever.