Entries in Clothing (6)


Sense-Able Clothing Reminds Exercisers to Work Out Right

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Bees do it.  Cellphones do it.  And now workout clothing does it too.  Buzz, that is.

Say your stomach pooches out too far while doing a core exercise in a Pilates class.  The sensors in the Move tank top spot your mistake and emit a mild electric shock reminding you to tighten up those abs.  Same thing if your hip pops out at the wrong angle during a leg toning series.  When the correction is made, the clothing delivers three buzzy "attaboys" to the area so you know you're back in alignment.

The garment, which was presented this July at the Wearable Technologies conference in San Francisco, has four stretch-and-flex sensors woven out of conductive fibers and embedded into its front, back and sides.  The sensors are strategically placed to help correct the most common errors people make during a mat Pilates class.

Made from the same materials as regular exercise clothing, it isn't bulky or uncomfortable, and most of the garment can withstand the spin cycle.  The battery and other components that can't be washed are removable.

The tank also transmits workout information to your smart phone via Bluetooth and has an app that analyzes your technique and critiques your performance.  You can download short animated movies that show you where you tend to go wrong, then offers suggestions on how you can improve.

Jennifer Darmour, the tank's designer, says the idea came to her when she realized how much money she was spending on Pilates classes, which can run upward of $200 an hour for a private session.  She started to think of ways to help speed up the learning process.

"I thought putting sensors in the clothing could give feedback to help you improve your technique a lot faster," Darmour who is a technology expert, says.  "It's not meant to replace an instructor but it can certainly help you understand the technique even when the instructor isn't around."

Scientists are on board with the concept.  Joseph Paradiso of the Massachusetts Information Technology Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass., believes this type of technology can be a great teaching tool, particularly for an activity like Pilates in which the movement is meant to be very precise.

"There is only so much information we can take in with our eyes and our ears and these types of sensors can be very effective at picking up mistakes and offering feedback.  When they are in the right place they help you instinctively make corrections," Paradiso says.

The Move system is unique to the Pilates world, but so-called wearable technology is a hot clothing category.  IMS Research, a British research firm that tracks statistics for the global electronics industry, reports that more than 14 million wearable devices were shipped last year, most of them in the fitness and medical category.  By 2016, they predict the market will hit $6 billion in revenue.

While the Move tank is still in the development phase and won't hit the shelves for at least a year, consumers will find there's certainly no shortage of workout gear that helps track stats, enhance performance or offer a measure of protection.

Shoe inserts, wrist watches and clip-ons serve as high-tech pedometers to track, download and analyze the mileage and speed of runners and cyclists.  A waistband called the Lumobelt uses a sensor system similar to the Move tank to remind those with back pain to stand up straight.  There's even an "invisible bike helmet" you wear around your neck like a scarf that deploys like an airbag over your head if you're in a crash.

Darmour is working on incorporating sensor technology into other types of gear where the sport calls for precise technique.  She hopes in the future, she'll also have clothes that zap golfers, baseball pitchers and yoga lovers whenever they make a wrong move.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sunscreen Clothes: Do They Work?

File photo. Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's a hot summer all across America, but do you really need more than sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the rays?

A whole new category of products are now available that include clothes, makeup and shampoo -- all promising to offer extra protection from the sun: even bikinis.

"For the life of me, I don't know what good that will do," Dr. David Leffell, a professor of dermatology at Yale University, told ABC News about the sunscreen swimsuit. "By definition, most of the body is uncovered, so the rationale of sun-protective clothing in the bikini escapes me."

While the shampoo doesn't protect the scalp at all, the good news is that chemically treated clothes work, and Dr. Melda Isaac, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist, routinely recommends them to her patients.

"Let's face it, none of us really apply the right amount of sunscreen," she said. "Good sun protective clothing assures you of getting the proper protection."

ABC News tested a polo shirt with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50 and a child's hoodie rated UPF 20 in a certified lab. The results were that the garments worked as advertised when they were brand new.

However, the clothing did lose some effectiveness after three or four washes, which made the experts believe they are unlikely to last more than one season.

"A year or two would be a very good standard for the longevity of a fabric," said Leffell. "The protection doesn't last forever, and you don't want to take things out of storage every summer and assume that you're being protected."

Detergent that adds chemical sunscreen to your regular clothes also proved to be effective. What does not work is a plain, white untreated t-shirt. It offers only SPF 8 protection -- a sunburn waiting to happen. But when treated with a detergent that includes a sunscreen additive, the SPF increases to 15.

A cheaper alternative to all this remains sunscreen and dark clothes that deflect UV rays.

"If someone would actually want to wear denim on the beach, that would offer the best sun protection, but obviously that's going to be warm," said Isaac.

If not, there's always the sunscreen-treated bikini, it passed the test with an SPF of 50 but, of course, you'll need an awful lot of sunscreen for the rest of you.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: You Are What You Wear

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(EVANSTON, Ill.) -- For all you ladies out there who stand a little taller when you purchase those expensive pumps or a new silk top, fear not.  New research from Northwestern University validates the power that comes with clothes, and the price tag you might associate with it.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “You are what you eat.”  Well, you might add, "You are what you wear.”

Northwestern’s research introduced the term “enclothed cognition” to describe the connection between clothing and psychology.

“Clothes cognition is really about becoming the clothes themselves and having them direct who you are and how you act in the world,” study author Adam Galinsky said.  ”When we are putting on a suit, we are not only giving impressions to other people, but we are also giving an impression to ourselves.  We feel the rich, silk fabric on our arms; that allows us to take on the characteristics of those clothes.”

The researchers examined the phenomenon by having participants wear a white lab coat, describing it as a doctor’s coat.

“When they put it on and saw it as a doctor’s coat, they became more attentive,” Galinsky said.  “But if they put on the same coat and we call it an artist’s coat, a painter’s coat, then you didn’t get the affect.”

Galinsky, a professor of ethics and decision in management, said this is because doctors need to ”be attentive” and by wearing the coat you take on a “symbolic meaning of what it means to be a doctor, attentive and smarter.”  Those with the artists coats were found to become more creative.

The concept for the research stemmed from an episode of  The Simpsons.  The episode featured a group of children in gray uniforms who were very quiet.  After a rainstorm came and washed the clothing into color, their behaviors changed.

“[I] started thinking about how the clothes you wear and the meaning” behind those clothes, Galinsky said.  “If you put on a black T-shirt, you become more aggressive.  You put on a nurse’s uniform, you become more helpful.”

One question that remains for the Northwestern researchers is whether habitually wearing the same clothing affects the psychological effects.  But, in the meantime, the next time you are searching for something to wear, remember, “the clothes that you wear seep into the fabric” of your psyche, Galinsky said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Overweight and Chic: Plus-Size Business Is Booming

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It could be the great weight divide. While supermodels in glossy magazines seem to be getting skinnier, "real" American women have gotten plumper and more curvy, which has launched a new and booming market for plus-size fashion.

In what many fashionistas called a bold move, Vogue featured the voluptuous singer Adele, wearing a size 16 black dress, on the cover of its March issue. The cover's release came on the heels of legendary Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld's comments about Adele's weight. In February, Lagerfeld said the singer was "a little too fat" in an issue of Paris's free newspaper, Metro, for which he was guest editor.

The 23-year-old Adele shot back, telling People magazine that she is "very proud" to "represent the majority of women."

The average American woman is 5-foot-4, weighs 164 pounds and wears a size 14 to 16. Some buxom female celebrities, including Queen Latifiah and Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy, thumbed their noses at the uber-slim supermodel standard and launched their own plus-size clothing lines.

And retailers are starting to pay attention.

A new chain of stores called "Fashion to Figure" has opened. It's like the H&M or Forever 21 of plus-size fashion. It provides stylish and glamorous clothes for women sizes 12 to 26 at reasonable prices -- with dresses typically running $28 to $36. Its message: enough with the size 2.

CEO and founder Michael Kaplan was studying for his Harvard MBA when he said he noticed that the latest trend of so-called "fast fashion," when an expensive runway look is re-created cheaply, was bypassing the plus-size market.

Kaplan's business is a family affair. His brother Nick toiled in retail for 20 years and his little sister Palley trained at Nordstorm. Not to mention that the Kaplans' great-grandmother was Lane Bryant, of the plus-size clothing empire that now includes nearly 850 stores and over $1 billion in annual revenue.

Almost 6 feet tall and nearly 200 pounds, Anna Kleinsorge is a plus-size model. She argues that having sexy clothing options doesn't enable someone to be obese -- quite the opposite.

"If I'm wearing sweat pants or a paper bag every day, I would grow to fill that paper bag -- whereas when I have something that looks awesome on me and makes me feel good, I'm out, I'm doing stuff, I'm with my friends and experiencing life," she said.

While some critics might say that the expanding plus-size fashion market is celebrating being overweight, Kaplan said they advocate people being healthy, but his company's mission is about offering a better life for those who are plus-size.

"We're not in the business of labeling people," Kaplan said. "We are trying to make people feel confident. Everybody needs great fashion. It's a mind set. And we're there for you, you know, no matter what size you are."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wardrobe Woes: Hidden Health Hazards of Tight Clothing

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Men and women who shoehorn themselves into skin-tight jeans, battle to button their trousers or knot their neckties too tightly might unknowingly suffer nerve damage, digestive disturbances and even potentially deadly blood clots.

They're victims of fashion's hidden health hazards.  Even some favorite accessories, like waist-cinching belts, can compress delicate nerves in the abdomen or constrain breathing and deprive the heart and brain of needed oxygen.

"Who hasn't tried to squeeze into a too-small pair of shoes, or wriggle into too-tight jeans?" said Dr. Orly Avitzur, a neurologist in Tarrytown, N.Y., who started warning about too-constricting skinny jeans on her Consumer Reports blog back in 2009.  "Sometimes we realize right away that our choice of wardrobe or fashion is the culprit; other times, it only dawns on us when we begin to really suffer."

When patients seek medical help for pain radiating into the thigh, or feelings of numbness or tingling, it's unlikely they suspect that the cut of their jeans might be the problem.  But sharp-eyed physicians like Dr. Malvinder S. Parmar, medical director of Timmins & District Hospital in Ontario, Canada, might recognize the hallmarks of meralgia paresthetica, the compression of a nerve running from the pelvis into the outer thigh.

In 2003, Parmar published a description of "tingly thighs" in three "mildly obese" women who wore low-rise jeans throughout the previous few months.  Their discomforts resolved after four to six weeks "avoiding hiphuggers and wearing loose-fitting dresses," according to Parmar's 2003 correspondence in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Some clothing-related maladies go by mundane-sounding names that hardly hint at their potential to sicken.  For example, a middle-aged or older man whose belly hangs below the waist of his pants may suffer from "tight pants syndrome," a term coined in a 1993 article by Dr. Octavio Bessa, an internist in Stamford, Conn.

Bessa described a collection of gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, heartburn and reflux a few hours after meals that he would see in 20 to 25 men every year.  The common thread: All wore ill-fitting pants with waistbands several inches smaller than their bellies, Bessa reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Three years later, two diagnostic imaging specialists from Wales described a "sporting variant" of tight-pants syndrome that they linked to tight Neoprene bike shorts worn to prevent muscular injury.

Wearing tight neckties and shirts with constricting collars can also impede blood flow through neck veins and arteries and may affect vision.  In a 2003 study of 40 men, half with glaucoma, three minutes with a tightened tie raised eye pressure among the majority of those with and without the disease.  Elevated eye pressure is a key element of diagnosing and monitoring glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Creepy or Cute? French Company Sells Lingerie for Girls 4 to 12 Years Old

Used to be "dress up" meant putting on a pair of Mommy's shoes. Ryan McVay/Thinkstock (PARIS) -- Little girls, clad only in bras and underwear, pose carelessly cool, wearing sunglasses and heavy makeup, in an online photo gallery of Jours Après Lunes' new clothing line. They're far from the age where they might need bras, but the "loungerie" line is meant for girls as young as 3 months.

While the French company's babywear consists of typical onesies for infants, click on the fille (girls) section of the site and find little girls dressed in lacy, frilly, silky undergarments with tousled beehive updos and mascaraed stares.

The Jours Après Lunes website says it is the first designer brand dedicated to "loungerie," calling it an "innovative" and "unexpected" brand in the current realm of teenage and children's fashion.

Some call it fashion. Others call it appalling.

"This kind of marketing does sexualize young girls, it does serve as a model that inspires very young girls to think that minimizing what they wear and revealing as much of their body as possible is appropriate, and 'fashionable' and 'cool,' and that this is the way that they should think of themselves," Paul Miller, associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University in Phoenix, wrote in an email to ABC News.

Jours Après Lunes' did not return calls from ABC News requesting comment.

"The cultural message goes beyond 'lingerie' but to girls' self-image, body image, and what it takes to build a 'good' image of one's self," continued Miller.

But the "loungerie" line is only the latest kiddie fashion craze to cause public outrage.

Two weeks ago, 10-year-old French model Thylane Loubry Blondeau made headlines when she graced the cover of Vogue France. Many believed her high-fashion posing put her in an exceptionally mature position that was too sexual for her age.

This week, clothing retailer American Eagle drew ire after marketing a push-up bra that promises to add two cup sizes to girls as young as 15.

American Eagle's website has one review of the bra, claiming that "it gives so much push-up that other bras don't let me show off," reported ABC affiliate WTVD.

"Girls want to look pretty, but they do not want that icky sexual attention," Ann Soket, editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine, told ABC News. "They just want to feel good in their clothes, they just want to feel pretty, and that's what these bras are about."

But many child development experts would disagree with Soket. The American Psychological Association recently created a task force to respond to the "increasing problem" of the sexualization of girls in the media, which it found could influence a girl's well-being.

"We don't want kids to grow up too fast," Shari Miles-Cohen, senior director of women's programs for the American Psychological Association, told earlier this month. "We want them to be able to develop physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially at appropriate rates for their age."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio