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Style · June 22, 2015

The Pros and Cons of a Dress Shirt That Repels Liquid

Bloomberg was referring to Dropel Fabrics' "hydrophobic" clothing (currently sold by Kelby & Co. clothiers). The company touts its product's breathable cotton that also repels liquidnamely big stain offenders like coffee, wine, or sweat. To achieve this, the clothes are "infused with a protective layer of nanoparticles that give ordinary fabrics such as cotton these liquid-repelling superpowers."

While "hydrophobic" sounds like it should be reserved for the Wicked Witch of the West, there are more benefits than drawbacks to such an advancement. However, there is one major con to consider.

The Pros:

It's spill-proof. Sure, you could apply pressure to the spill and get the fabric to absorb the stain, but that's pretty easy to avoid since the liquid will otherwise roll right over the polymers.

Less dry cleaning. In theory, those yellow collar rings around white shirts should be minimized since they're blocking sweat absorption. The best way to treat stains is to prevent them altogether.

You can own fewer shirts, and ideally you'll be replacing these ones less frequently.

The Con:

As Esquire points out, the fabric blocks sweateverywhere. And in some parts of the body, that's not always a good thing. If sweat isn't absorbed by our clothing, it sits on the skin, and the likelihood of chafing and irritation is even higher. So it's important to find a happy middle ground: something that absorbs your body's sweat but that also cools and dries quickly. (This is how most fitness apparel is engineered these days.)

One solution: Wear a "breathable" cotton undershirt that maximizes airflow to your body but that also will absorb sweat without giving you and misery. This way, you've got a more sweat-friendly base layer and can still rock the stain-repellant dress shirts.


Adam Hurly