Failed Fashionista No. 1 (Immortal Spandex)

Immortal Spandex

Spandex is immortal. I know it. I speak from a place of wisdom, from the Planet of the Unitarded. (For earthlings unfamiliar with this futuristic state of mind, think of the tortuous medieval costume once known as a pee-prohibitor.)

With that image in mind, let us argue the contrary to prove the point: if spandex were mortal, it would be found in mounds of those musty depositories of the faded unwanted, the garment industry’s graveyard, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc. But contrary to what you might conjecture, spandex is conspicuously missing from any of these second-hand shops on Earth. Of late, in order to cope with the discrepancies between my addiction to more and the crisis of less, I began to do what I did so often in the 80s: thrift. Hence, after much field research, I have come to the conclusion that every lycra-legged lady out there is hogging their old spandex. Give ‘em up, I say, I want some hand-me-down spandex! Vintage spandex, what could be better?

I jest, of course.

Sure, it’s chemical, artificial, made mostly of polyurethane, which sounds like something you do to your floors to make them shiny. Polyurethane used to be used as an anesthetic, numbing any feelings you might have. It clads the hard-bodied bottoms of superheroes galore, sure, but on the other hand, it also sounds highly flammable.

Let’s face it. Shopping for pants is a form of mental torture. On top, one remains relatively uniform. Tit size remains a constant where as the bottom is an elastic that expands with the increasingly lost resistance to every cookie that crosses your path. Our nether regions are non-heroic.

Historically, the original era of spandex culminated with the original era of disco, that is, the era when we used to dance … a lot. In the 1970s, Patricia Fields claims to have invented the modern day legging as we know and love it today. And while it might have been Jane Fonda who transformed the verb “workout” into a noun in 1982, contrary to my memory, Fonda was not wearing the shiny spandex I was seeking, but rather a dull striped cottony variation thereof. The disco roller rink muse Olivia Newton John wasn’t wearing it either in Xanadu in 1980, but she did wear it in her bad girl gear in the culminating scene of Grease back in 1978. In her black shiny spandex, she morphed from a conservative Pink Lady into a slinky one dipped in ink. That’s how she got her guy.

There’s just something irresistible about a material that is simultaneously historic and of the hereafter. And it is one of the few items where you can reliably order a generic subjective S-M-L-XL. Spandex is, or so I learned, a material that stretches 500 times its “relaxed state.” No stress. It’s not snake proof, though. But on the other hand, it’s a good retainer of heat.

My own personally hogged spandex collection was once reserved for the annual dance recital. In my jazz flats, leggings and matching spandex silver sequined bandeau, I performed on a stage for a crowd of 50 mothers, and came as close as I’ll ever come to becoming Madonna. Earth, Wind, and Fire and … spandex, immortal spandex: since the discovery of sugar, no better material had ever been found.


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