Fabulous Fashion Fabrics: Latex

Atsuko Kudo latex dress, featured in the V&A's Ballgowns exhibitionWhen most people think of latex clothing, they think of fetishwear. While that may be the only rubber garments you could find on the internet a few years ago, believe me, it’s not just about super shiny catsuits, tiny mini dresses and uniforms any more. There are some great designers out there who are using latex as a fabric for everything from hair accessories to ballgowns, and it’s becoming more mainstream than you think. You may not realise it, but you’re probably already aware of the couture latex clothing produced by London label Atsuko Kudo. Not only have they designed numerous costumes for Lady Gaga, featured in Vogue more times than I could possibly count, appeared in music videos for artists as diverse as Rihanna and Paloma Faith, but they also have a printed latex gown in the V&A’s current fashion exhibition Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950.

Designs by Lady Lucie LatexLatex (also referred to as rubber) clothing was an amazing find for me, as it’s fashion fabric unlike any other. Where you would assume that most form fitting clothing will accentuate any lumps and bumps, garments made from latex can smooth everything out in the manner of glamorous shapewear. It can be moulded or, in the case of more expensive items, glued together. This means no unsightly gaping seams and a lovely clean line. As you might imagine, it isn’t absorbent so you’ll never get sweat marks, even if you do get extremely warm wearing it sometimes! It can be close fitting, tailored or sculptural which means that it’s suitable for all kinds of uses – see Lady Lucie’s retro hotpants, Jane Doe’s square neck 3/4 sleeve bow top, Breathless’ formal shirt and OohLaLatex’s polkadot puff sleeve top. As you can see from the candy colours on Lady Lucie’s site, it’s not all glossy black in colour either.

Dolly rocker dress by BreathlessOne of my favourite brands, Breathless, currently have a 20% off Jubilee weekend sale that ends tonight, with many items far more affordable and wearable than you might think. Take their super cute Dolly Rocker set, for example. You can choose the colour for the latex dress and the accessories when you order, so it can be as eye catching as you dare. Westward Bound have a Jubilee weekend discount too, which is the perfect excuse to get yourself a fantastic Union Flag latex dress. Whatever you go for, you will need a bit of help getting into your new purchase, making it look its best, and caring for it in the long term. A bit of talc is always useful to help tight rubber clothing slide over your skin, rather than stick to it, and then you’ll need a bit of latex polish on a damp lint free cloth to get rid of any marks. For added wow factor, silicone spray helps get that extra special shine. However, talc can leave unsightly residue (especially if you get hot and sweaty, or are wearing semi-transparent latex) and most of us are a bit too lazy for the full buff ‘n’ polish routine. These days, I use a silicone dressing aid on the body parts where my latex gets stuck (hello upper arms and hips!) and a spot of Vivishine in the final rinse to help retain a glossy finish. After hand washing, the water runs off and so you get a perfect shine just from drip drying. Latex clothing may involve a bit more effort than traditional garments to help it looking its best, but it is definitely worth it!

Images via the Atsuko Kudo blogLady Lucie and Breathless.