Saturday, October 20, 2018

Reader Question - Thoughts on Polyester Fleece?

Photos by Salt Water New England
Reader Question for the community:
What are your thoughts on fleece apparel, particularly fleece vests? Have they reached a level of acceptance to wear in good company? Thank you!

Fleece from years ago, since given away.
I am not a big fan of any kind of "fleece" never worn by a sheep; call it what they will, it's still polyester, and has nothing like the warmth or wicking properties of natural wool. (Reader Comment)


Keith, the L.L. Bean Bootmobile Driver

48 comments:

  1. Although I share your preference for wool and natural fibers, the utility of polyester fleece keeps it in good rotation for me. I volunteer at the local firehouse and spend weekends in the field or on the water, and in those situations wool sweaters/vests/etc are either too expensive to risk damaging, or will face dirt and debris that can only succumb to the washer dryer. Not to mention that fleece dries much faster than wool. While I wouldn't wear it to a dinner out, I have worn fleece vests under a suit to the office - and have seen more casual firms buy corporate fleece vests for their employees to wear at work.

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    1. For me, it's recreational use only, and I'm in agreement with TGK. Polyester fleece is really useful for outdoor wear, either exposed as in the photos or under some windbreaker shell. (And I also have a windproof fleece jacket that actually does what its name says.)

      Here's the thing: Life for me hardly ever involves formal dress in any case, so the issue of inappropriate-for-the-situation never arises.

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  2. The quick drying nature of polar/poly fleece makes it a perfect fabric for weekend wear. I have lots of cashmere and sheep’s wool (some from my fathers flock) sweaters that I would never wear out in the rain or other wet and dirty activities simply because those items are too hard to clean and dry.

    I am not a vest person so won’t chime in on the vest-specific thoughts.

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  3. Here in Minnesota, polyester fleece's greater insulation and less bulk was a big improvement over everything that went before. I've been wearing it since, I suppose, the 90s. With a fleece jacket, I can dress to go out for a couple of hours on a cold-ish day without feeling like the Michelin Man. As for fleece vests, they're lighter, less constricting, and more adjustable than a sweater. I've been wearing one all day. The third photo above could easily be me, except that the khakis I'm wearing aren't pleated.

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  4. I have some fleece garments, both long sleeve and sleeveless, zip front and pullover. It has it's uses. I don't buy expensive brands and so I'm willing to wear it for dirty work jobs. It's generally lightweight, too. Some of my wool sweaters are quite heavy in comparison. I think it might be more durable than knit wool. I'd say its biggest disadvantage is that fleece is a high friction fabric, which is sometimes noticeable. It will also melt in contact with flame or hot metal if not treated but it is mothproof.

    There are also extra-thick fleece garments that used to be called pile. The army was using pile liners in parkas and field jackets fifty years ago. Personally, I like quilted liners and vests myself.

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  5. Doesn't work for me, out in the fields doing horse-chores. First, it's not really very warm. More importantly, it acts as a magnet to every bit of hay, hair, burrs, brambles, and dirt possible which just gets stuck in harder in the wash.

    I guffaw when I see "fleece" outerwear in colors like white and sky blue in the tack-'n-togs catalogs. Anybody wearing that has their horse led to the mounting block by a groom (in Carhartt!) for sure! ;-)

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    1. https://www.outbacktrading.com/

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  6. My fleece no name pullover is great for fishing and the name brand one is ok at Univ office.

    I miss the old down vests of the 70s but would not wear a fleece vest

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  7. I'm thinking about buying a Schoffel Expresso Oakham Fleece Gilet from Cordings.

    Does anyone have any experience with this item?

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    Replies
    1. If any article of clothing required five words to name it, I wouldn't buy it.

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    2. Anonymous October 21, at 9:09 AM:

      Thanks for the tip. I guess I'll just hold off until they shorten the name.

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  8. I don’t like fleece at all. Before I retired I was inundated with fleece jackets and vests with corporate logos on the chest. All landed, unworn, in my donation basket for a local shelter. cheers!

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  9. Fabric softener kills fleece...

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    1. Really?
      I was not aware of that, will check into this. Thanks for tip

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    2. https://www.outsideonline.com/1780231/why-fabric-softener-considered-harmful-technical-apparel

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  10. Fleece vests and jackets, whether or not of the polyester variety, have become so unbelievably prevalent in corporate, campus, and casual settings, that they are practically today's version of a blazer or sport jacket for many. In finance, they became a sort of status symbol, as wearing one likely meant working for a hedge fund, or some other role that didn't require wearing a suit daily (like banking). Over time, this somehow made vests appropriate wear for drinks and dinner, and at this point, I don't find someone wearing a polyester vest over a dress shirt out of place at all, whether dining in a restaurant or with friends and family. Granted, the shape it is in matters in these settings, but most wearers seem to take care, and the most prevalent brands seem to be nice Patagonia and Vineyard Vines vests. So in short, I think these days it is appropriate across nearly all settings, and is curiously maybe the most universal garment around.

    I absolutely love the ones I own. I wear them over dress shirts, with slacks and loafers while working, with jeans and chinos around town on the weekends, on boats while sailing, while golfing. Nearly everywhere.

    The only negative with the cheapest varieties is static discharge. I'm not exactly sure what it is about the fibers, but some fleece can be annoying to wear in the dryer months for that reason.

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  11. Would anyone in SWNE land choose fleece over boiled wool?

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    1. Doubt it for most part but as others have said geography does enter into it. Still would not wear fleece to church

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  12. Polyester and nylon garments are generally unacceptable in good company. That rule includes fleeces and nylon jackets from the likes of The North Face, Patagonia and Berghaus. The exception is my zip-in fleece liner for my Barbour jackets. However, I never wear it separately as a gilet, i.e. "in public". That's one practical alternative to a fleece. Another is a wool jacket, possibly with a waterproof membrane. I have a melton wool Harrington jacket that is very warm.

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    1. Has anyone looked at the photos above?

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    2. Yes and your point is Anonymous? Mine is that I would not wear any of the fleeces in the photos above. Why not wear a wool or thick cotton alternative? Or even put your name to your pointless post?

      I will also add that synthetic fibres are very bad for the environment, both in manufacture and disposal. I can't understand why "green" campaigners have not targeted them? They should be recycled at the very least.

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  13. Never. One does not wear plastic.

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    1. I agree. But then I contradict myself by wearing a light fleece vest under my ski jacket for added warmth without bulk. (Skiing involves a lot of plastics these days.)

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    2. I freely admit to wearing fleece when it's cool. In fact, right now I'm wearing a fleece vest that came from Cabela's. However, I am 72 and no longer will wear shorts in public.

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  14. From what I can see microfiber pollution of our oceans and food supply is real. The cleanest line, Patagonia's blog, has several good articles on this

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  15. This topic caused me to run to my closet and check! Yes, I have one - for yard work only.

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  16. Yes, absolutely, as long as it's a vest or 1/4 snap pullover in grey, navy, or dark green. Patagonia's snap T is a classic for weekend wear. I'm slightly less sure about full-zip fleece jackets and would probably not wear a fleece jacket that had a hood.

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    1. Agree completely with regards to the Patagonia Snap T. I understand the angst over fleece as I'm pretty strictly a natural fiber kinda guy but outwear is different. I've owned it all and poly fleece is the best of the layering material IMO. My shells are GoreTex. Barbour waxed cotton? An affectation. Not that I don't like the look of the British Royals and their game wardens but the stuff is an overpriced nuisance. I live in Idaho and frequent Ketchum and Sun Valley and in 25 years have yet to see a Barbour jacket worn by anyone. Lots of fleece and GoreTex (or Carhartt if you're a cowboy or rancher).

      The one argument against fleece that holds merit IMO is it that in a dry climate, static can be an issue.

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    2. "...but the stuff is an overpriced nuisance". Tell it like it is, brother!

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  17. Years ago, back in the 90's, fleece was beginning to gain popularity but it was ridiculously expensive. Today it's more reasonably priced though still expensive for a ' plastic' garment. I've worn fleece hats, coats, pants, gloves and socks and they do keep me warm but the truth is, I hate synthetic plastic clothing. It's not only bad for our health but it's bad for the earth. Micro-plastics from just garment waste has saturated our planet and is harming ocean life to such a degree that I can't justify the purchase. I'm not judging others choices but for me this has become as much a moral issue as a personal preference. I wear wool ( lambswool, merino and Shetland) silk, cotton and linen almost exclusively now. Here is an article about the synthetic garment industry pollution: https://phys.org/news/2018-09-microplastics-world-oceans-synthetic-textiles.html
    Elizabeth

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    1. Well said. It is, however, getting harder and harder to find much these days made from 100% natural fiber. Very disgusted with our throw-away society.

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    2. My wife never throws anything away.

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  18. I own a couple Patagonia fleeces also a nice shooting style fleece vest from Onwar Reserve great for the weekend errands or walking the dog!

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  19. I have no problem wearing fleece. I am old enough to remember wearing wool socks under leather ski boots. And freezing when they got cold with sweat. Yes wool is nice and natural, but when freezing in the Hindu Kush or above Tarin Kowt, nothing beats fleece covered with Gortex. Also it as previously stated it too nice to wear in the woods hunting or for manual labor.

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  20. Just plain practical. Like plastic toilet seats instead of wooden ones.

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  21. For "active" outdoor wear, it's essential. Lightweight, keeps you toasty, and water repellent. If wet, dries faster than natural fabrics. The feel of fleece not my favorite, still feels kind of weird - but that is improving too with new processing/fabrications.

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  22. I have a Campmor fleece jacket that is approaching 30 yrs old. It is indestructible. Worn only for outdoor chores, and as a layer for the coldest ski days.

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  23. I've been wearing fleece vests to play golf for years. I wore one yesterday that looks and feels like wool, but it's artificial. It's also warm, water resistant, and lets me swing my arms freely.

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  24. My wife has a humorously flocculent fleece jacket. I have a cheap, basic model which I wear when risking contact with filth and slop. That's it. Everything else we have is wool or cotton. My general feeling is that fleece is ugly and toxic.

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  25. The first gentleman wearing the fleece vest with a short sleeve shirt is a look that makes no sense to me. If its cool enough that you need fleece, then why the shorts and short sleeves? Or if its warm enough for short sleeves and shorts, why the need for fleece?

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    1. I can't answer the question but when I was in college, around 1970, I had a short-sleeved pullover sweater that I often wore with a short-sleeved shirt. I admit it was a little odd. I would have purchased it in a local men's shop, almost certainly at Daniel's in Morgantown, West Virginia (or maybe at Biafora's). Never saw anyone else wearing one.

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    2. BlueTrain, I remember you! hahahaha I do remember men wearing short sleeve shirts with sweater vests. My grandfather always did- even to garden. I always liked that style. You're the only one who wore the short sleeve sweater though.
      When I was in college, I often wore big wool sweaters with shorts. I wouldn't do that today given that my legs are not as attractive and my internal thermostat doesn't operate as efficiently. When I moved to a cold VA college town in the 80's, I immediately noticed that the students were barely dressed in cold weather- even in snow storms. They wore stocking hats, sandals, flip flops,shorts and no coats. I thought maybe it was a Virginia ' beach bum' or reggae fad ??? Elizabeth

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  26. Climate change...that's it, you leave home to run errands and there is that dratted climate change taking place right then and there so at your next stop, you look in the back seat and there is vest and while the outfit may not look all that good, you slip it on to keep warm while finishing your errands. One option would have been to have gone home and changed into fleece appropriate attire but you dared to possibly confront a member of the fleece police. At a certain age, I think some of us lay caution to the wind and choose comfort at least for the moment.

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  27. I bought a Barbour Langdale fleece Gilet from Orvis this week. Seems safe now that everyone on the left coast has switched to down and primaloft vests.

    David J Cooper

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  28. I wore fleece until my boyfriend bought me a zip-up grey Irish wool. It is now my favorite as it is warmer than the fleece and is very beautiful.

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