DuPont first created spandex in 1959 as a revolutionary material fibre that combined flexibility with superior strength and resilience. According to the American Fiber Manufacturer's Association, spandex material stretches up to 500 per cent without tearing or ripping. However, with this super-strength comes certain functional drawbacks and difficulties. In 2011, clothing companies still use spandex for a variety of purposes, but no longer see the material as a fix-all fabric for every occasion.
The inability of spandex material to breathe moisture makes the material less than ideal for sweat-inducing activities such as exercising or hiking. In addition to fostering an unpleasant odour, trapping sweat near your skin increases your risk of yeast infections and blistering along the clothing seams. In 2011, exercise clothing designers avoid these problems by including other breathable materials in their spandex garments.
Slippery on Surfaces
The slick smoothness of spandex makes wearing this fibre dangerous on certain apparatuses and equipment. Riding on a stationary bike or sitting on a weight bench, for example, becomes difficult and risky when your clothing glides off the surface designated for sitting. Even structures not intended for athletics, such as a plastic subway seat or a smooth park bench, become potential hazards against the friction-lacking texture of spandex clothing.
Sensitive to Heat
The chemical composition of spandex makes the material highly sensitive to heat. Washing spandex in hot water, machine drying or ironing causes puckering and ruins the fabric permanently. Multiple garments made from 100 per cent spandex meld and fuse together under high temperatures in the dryer. The heat sensitivity of spandex makes basic care and maintenance more time consuming than other less-heat sensitive materials.
Properly sewn spandex undergarments lift and smooth your body. However, wearing 100 per cent spandex tops, trousers or dresses actually highlights your flaws. Natural materials, such as cotton or silk, flow over your skin, but the flexibility of spandex grips your body tightly, outlining every cellulite dimple and roll of flab from top to bottom. Even loosely-fitting dresses or tops made of spandex illuminate every sagging pouch and excess fat store when you move or bend.