Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Symbol

No I am not talking about Dan Brown's new book. I'm talking about those funny circles and triangles on the labels of your clothes. What are they? Why are they there? Should I even care about them?

Let's start with why you should care? Those symbols tell you, the consumer, how to clean your garment. Some manufacturers will still write words such as 'dryclean only" or my personal favorite "spot clean only". ( I will discuss why I sarcastically call this a favorite in my next blog)But you need to know the manufacturer is not legally mandated to use actual words. The garment must have care instructions and many items now only have those funky symbols. So like Professor Robert Langdon, Dan Brown's famous character, you will need to learn the meanings of symbols. Yes, I will help you decifer those labels in your clothes. You will be a fabric symbologist. May be not as exciting as decifering the Da Vinci Code, but way more useful.

So, let's get started . The first symbol you encounter is a square excpect the top of the square has been replaced with a wavy line. What could this mean? No, it's not the perfect shirt to take on a cruise. That symbol means the garment is washable in warm water. But wait , your wash tub symbol has a hand dipping into the waves. If this were summer - I'd be thinking beach or lake. But fabric symbolist , you know better - you know that means hand wash. So here's a question for you - what does the wash tub symbol with an X through it mean? Have you got the answer? Those of you who said X marks the spot - are wrong. We are not looking for buried treasure, remember. It means do not wash. But wait ,you say, this is a white cotton jacket, shirt, or some other garment. How can white cotton not be washable? Well, my intepid symbologist it could be the cotton was not preshrunk.

Now, you see a triangle. What could that possibly mean? I'll tell you honestly - there's no rhyme or reason for the triangle to mean what it does. But this is where we seperate ourselves from those amatuer symbologists and we receive our Masters in Symbology. The triangle means bleach. The plain triangle means you an use any type of bleach. Yep, even that dreaded chlorine bleach is ok. So, if you're going to a pool party and think some goofball may get the bright idea to toss you in the pool - then wear the garment with the triangle.

So now let's go for the gold. What does a circle mean? No, masters in symbology it is not the international symbol for the circle of life.Here's a hint- it's the symbol for the circle of my life. Yes, Masters of Symbology, you like Eliza Doolittle , by George have got it. That circle means dry clean only. So now you know when you see the circle - think of me, you're favorite fabric symbologist and drycleaner.

Now , you ask - am the Robert Langdon of fabric and care labels? Am I the grand master fabric symbologist? No students , you have taken baby steps. But I can help. No more will you have to depend on a sales clerk to interpret those symbols. No more will you have to stare at a label and think "where is Vicky now to tell me what this after dinner mint looking symbol with a X through it mean".Yes, masters of symbology that symbol does exist and no it doesn't mean you cannot eat pepppermint while wearing that shirt. So how do you become a Doctor of Fabric Symbology- come on by any Cowboy Cleaners and we will give a care label symbol pamphlet. You can put in your purse or wallet. And when you are at the store and the sales clerk says "that symbol means..."- You master of fabric symbology - can whip out your symbols and cry out " No thanks - I am a fabric symbologist."

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