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Will It Ruin Your Clothes? Not Necessarily

As many already know about me, I love swimming fully clothed. Preferably, wearing skirt suits, dresses with jackets, office attire, etc.

Some people have commented they think it looks sexy, but are afraid to try it themselves. They will ask me, "doesn't it ruin your clothes?" The answer is no...at least in the vast majority of instances. Here's a run down as to why.

For the most part, two bad things can happen to clothing if it gets wet. Shrinkage (fairly uncommon) and color bleeding (the much more common event if your clothes are damaged).

Shrinkage can occur, but typically doesn't. It depends on the fabric. Clothes labeled "dry clean only" usually will not shrink. If anything, the colors are more likely to bleed. However, I've gotten wet in my dry clean only clothes many times without damage - no shrinkage or color bleeding. Other clothing is not as color fast. Depending on exposure to water, a certain amount of the dye will bleed from the clothes. For those that have taken a bath in their clothes, and the water turns color, it's because of a bit of dye bleeding. Swimming in a chlorinated pool can accelerate the bleeding process, so if you are thinking about diving into a pool fully clothed, but aren't sure how the chlorine will impact the dye, you may try a hand washing a portion of the fabric in a sink to see what happens.

One thing I've noticed lately is that more and more clothing is machine washable - particularly with nicer women's office wear. i see many more dresses, skirts, blouse, jackets, slacks that are machine washable - which means the fabric will not shrink and the dyes are color fast. Hand washables are usually safe in the bath rub or shower as well. More at risk is the likelihood of the fabric torquing and not laying flat. One way to avoid this issue is if the fabric is soaked, not to run in through the drier. Run it through the spin cycle to get the excess water out. Re-shape the garment, and allow it to dry flat instead.

I've gotten wet in several different outfits - both men's and women's clothing. I cannot think of a single instance where a garment was ruined when getting it wet by wearing in the bathtub/shower or wearing it swimming in a pool. That doesn't mean it can't happen, but they way clothes are being designed today, it's not something likely to occur.

I've taken a few of my girlfriends into the bathtub with our clothes on. Some wearing the outfit they wore to work that day. They had concerns about the well being of their clothes, but everything survived nicely. Granted, we were not wreckless about what was worn. Nothing overly expensive. Nothing that seemed extremely delicate. But we did not worry about items that were dry clean only, and we did experience some color bleeding - but overall, everything turned out ok.

As for shoes, that's a story for another time. However, I will say that shoes usually hold up well after a swim or a soaking, but a little more attention needs to be paid to the shoes to ensure they aren't damaged. As always, use your head!
BizSuitStacy BizSuitStacy 46-50, T 4 Responses Jan 7, 2013

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I agree, most fabrics types are very water tolerant. Heat is probably a bigger problem. Hanging a wet gown and smoothing out the wrinkles and letting it air dry is one of the safest methods. Better yet, if there is a table large enough to spread the fabric out and let it air dry that way the weight of the wet material won't tend to pull it out of shape. The worst thing you can do with fine fabrics like silk, satin or taffeta, is put it in a drier machine. the heat can make it shrink and it just takes all the body out of fabric, especially taffeta, which has that nice crisp swishy feel.
As a participant on a dunking machine for a charity event, I wore a full suit and tie and was repeatedly dunked in the tank. Everything survived but the jacket. It seems that men's suit jackets are made with some felt or cardboard in between the lining and the front panels (and sometimes in the shoulders) and when it gets wet it just settles in the bottom as a mushy lump. I guess if you don't mind wearing a lumpy jacket, it can continue to be worn, but it looks awful.
On the other hand, one of the women being dunked wore a really nice tailored skirt suit that she had gotten sufficient use from and just assumed it would be totally ruined by getting dunked, but - on The following Monday when I told her about my suit jacket, she said after hers dried out it was perfectly wearable. I might add her dark blue suit looked awesome soaking wet!

Yes, sometimes the padding includes paper pulp, and that will lump. Better quality garments will use fillings that are resilient to water. I would have loved to see her dunked in that suit.

If a lady came up to me and asked me to jump in with her I would. Most clothes will be safe from damage. Experiment at home first or ask a sales person about the color treatment. The fancier the outfit, the more fun it is.

I couldn't agree more!

I agree with you Stacy. The only damage I have incurred is that the lining of some of my older dresses, especially those that are dry clean only, can wrinkle. This seems to occur less often with newer dresses, presumably because of newer fabrics. But who cares? Nobody sees the lining anyway!

Agreed. And yes, the newer clothes do seem to hold up particularly well. I've searched a few clothing retailer's websites for machine washable and hand washable clothes. Many more quality dresses, skirts and suits now show up than ever before. Perhaps people have become tired of their dry cleaning bills? Anyhow...thanks for your comment!

Your experiences mirror ours. On rare occasion an item of clothing will get ruined, but it truly is rare. She's been in our pool or hot tub in many, many outfits, and considers almost nothing she owns to be offlimits for getting wet in. She wore a lovely silk beaded cocktail dress to a New Years Eve dinner/dance/party we went to. Its been in the hot tub once before, and ended up there again at the end of the evening on NYE, and still looks just fine! I was also in in my tux, not the first time either - and after a trip to the dry cleaners (primarily to press it) it (and several suits I've also worn into the water) are just fine.

On the rare occasions that something DOES get damaged, we consider it a small price to pay for all the sexy, sensual fun we have together.

I agree with your sentiments. If something does get ruined on that rare occasion, it is a small price to pay for the joy it provided.

The only issue I've ever experience with clothes is a linen blouse that shrunk and a blue silk cocktail dress that bled. In both situations, I knew the risk. The blouse is now simply tight, but I can still have fun with it. The dress no longer is of the same hue intensity it was previously, but the color is still fairly consistent across the dress overall - so it's still quite wearable. I have also been wet in a man's suit a couple of times...as you mentioned, taking it to the cleaner for a pressing was all that was necessary.