“So it’s very cold outside, isn’t it?” But here I am sweating through my nightgown. Well, that’s not strictly true: one minute I’m hot, the next I’m cold, because sweaty clothes get, well, cold. I know flashes are normal during perimenopause, and I know we’re not supposed to be ashamed of this whole hormonal storm anymore. But I’m so frustrated. Is there anything that can help? — Sincerely, Sweaty Betty
It’s a very common problem, Sweaty Betty, and a huge opportunity for the fashion market. But as we’ve seen with plus sizes, petite, and other underserved markets, the fashion industry is slow to address real-world issues for real women. It is estimated that 80% of women will experience persistent hot flashes during their lifetime and not just for the average seven years around menopause; hormonal fluxes such as those that occur after childbirth can cause overheating, as can medical conditions (lupus, thyroid problems) and many common medications, as well as cancer treatments.
Some of us are naturally wonky when it comes to comfort levels: I’m Goldilocks in this story. No temperature is ever enough to the right. For example, I have to drive alone for fear of driving unwitting passengers crazy with my constant juggle heating systems. Like many couples, I negotiated a detente with my husband over adjusting the thermostat: the catch in our war on the cold is that even though it makes no sense to him why I adjusted it, because he follows no logical pattern, he is assured of destruction if he touches it.
At best, fashion can be about solving problems when function truly serves form. The technology, says Calgary entrepreneur Lara Smith, CEO of Lusome, can actually be used for good: A self-proclaimed “textile geek,” Lara has spent 20 years in the fashion industry sourcing and textile innovation. Health issues around her prompted her to look at what was there to help with night sweats; she found moisture-wicking technologies, but they used chemicals and polyester.
Smith wanted fabric that felt good — sexy, even — so she rolled up her sleeves and worked with scientists to create one. The result was her proprietary Xirotex fabric, what she calls “the Ferrari of moisture management technology.” The key to staying cool is wicking sweat (and odor-causing bacteria) through her capillary system, what she calls “a push-pull system where moisture is drawn from the skin and expelled in the air”. The double-layered fabric of its Luxe line is super soft to the touch: the exterior is made of luxury cotton; the interior, close to the body, is a thin layer of polyester encrusted with this hydrophilic technology (without chemicals).
Design is also important to Smith, she says: “Comfort is the new sexy. These aren’t grandma’s jammies; they are made to be timeless. There are 20 Lusome styles in total, with options up to 3X, from classic piped pajamas to fitted (pretty sexy) nightgowns and nightgowns and cami sets with shorts; some of the styles work for nursing. The pieces are an investment — $98 to $144 — but they’re made to last and won’t pill or fade.
A major player has just hit the market with a new product. Athleta is a Gap brand that launched e-commerce in Canada last August (followed by a megastore in Yorkdale late last year). Just this week came a new launch, the Calm Cool Sleep collection. I asked Athletica’s design director, Caitlin Butcher, to tell us more about the range. “The fabric is Cupro rayon, a plant-based fabric made from cotton waste,” she says. “This unique thermo-regulating fabric produces a feeling of comforting coolness to the touch. Cupro rayon can conduct, absorb heat from your skin well, and help you cool down and regulate your temperature faster when you go to bed.
So to be clear, Athletica’s offering isn’t a high-tech solution for people who suffer from severe sleep disturbances due to extreme hot flashes (like Lusome), but it’s a nice range , it is pleasantly cool on the skin and is very chic: the oversized camisole and the wide trousers are in heavy silk satin, fluid and neat.
Butcher says the Athleta team tested the Cupro line the same way they would test their sportswear, and chose the “silky smooth surface of the fabric” because it “slips with your body.” . We can move up to 40 times each night, so it’s important that our sleepwear moves with us.
And while we’re on this sweaty topic, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share another great fabric innovation that solves a related problem. Personally, I love Canadian brand Numi, which is a daytime sweat solution system (with a stain-repellent twist). Numi’s founder, Michelle Shemilt, is a former equity trader at a major Canadian bank. She noticed how boring it can be to dress for office tower heating and found herself avoiding her “good” clothes for fear of sweat stains. High-pressure work also comes with its own perspiration risks, of course.
In a happy career turn, Shemilt has developed a line of essential underwear, bolstered by high-performance fabric from Contemporary Cotton, which combines absorbent and repellent cotton yarns. Basically there is an “enhanced gusset” under the arm which wicks moisture away from the body but prevents it from moving onto the outer garment. The T-shirts (tank top, short sleeves or long sleeves) are in Tencel, which is also a thermoregulatory fabric. Everything works great: I’ve been wearing these t-shirts for a while now and wouldn’t be without this wardrobe staple.
In short, better living thanks to science. It’s nice to see something universal (and boring and real) like sweating tackled by smart women with a passion for changing the way we dress to live more comfortably.
Buy the tips
Here are some well-designed products with high-tech fabric innovations that will help keep you cool day and night.
Lusome pajamas, $144, montelleintimates.com SHOP HERE
This classic style welt pajama set is stylish and highly functional: it looks like luxury cotton, but the Xirotex double-layer fabric is scientifically proven to keep you cool and comfortable when you overheat, with wicking technology moisture close to your body and pushes into the air.
Lusome babydoll, $98, montelleintimates.com SHOP HERE
Another Lusome style, this little black babydoll has the same hero technology designed in Canada to keep you cool (and dry, because when the sweat gets cold, it wakes you up).
Athleta Calm Cool Pants, $105, athleta.gapcanada.ca SHOP HERE
For chilly nights or a fluid work-from-home look to uplift your mood, these pants from Athleta’s all-new sleep line are made with a Cupro rayon that looks remarkably like heavyweight silk satin.
Athleta Calm Cool Cami, $65, athleta.gapcanada.ca SHOP HERE
Matching the top to the wide-leg PJ pants, this camisole could easily double as an underblazer for Zoom calls. Also available in the range: cute shorts and a romper.
Numi Undershirt, $84, wearnumi.com SHOP HERE
This Canadian brand is here to keep you cool and dry no matter how hot it gets during the day at work: a double-layered gusset under the arms wicks moisture away from your body and prevents it from entering your your “good” clothes. Numi now also has fashionable silk pieces that repel liquids.
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