Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The War Against Labels


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I’m no Princess and the Pea so if I suffer from manufacturers’ and designers’ labels, I’m sure you do, too. 

These tags really “get to me” -- rubbing and scratching against my neck and upper sides of my body.  Furthermore, it makes me just plain angry because what is doesn’t have to be!

First of all, the fabrics chosen for labels are almost always rough and irritating. Secondly, the threads added to trumpet the name of the manufacturer or designer, to give washing instructions and fabric content are also scratchy.  And sometimes -- adding insult to injury -- metallic threads are used!  These feel like wires cutting into your skin.  But, most importantly, labels are almost always sewn into precisely those sections of garments where they are guaranteed to rub against unprotected flesh, ignoring the simple fact that there are between 50 to 60 inches in a typical size 10 woman’s garment and 70 to 80 inches in a man’s size-large shirt of “protected space.” Protected space refers to hemlines and side seams below the waist which are covered by one’s underpants (assuming, of course, one wears underpants!).

With all this safe space available, why sew labels into neck and above-waist sections?  Are manufacturers and designers trying to irritate us, and, as in some cases, inflict real injury requiring medical treatment?


Probably not, but if they think wearing their labels is advancing their name and goodwill, they need to think again!  Within minutes after purchasing a new top and arriving at home, I have exorcised the devils.  With seam rippers I tear open the stitches and remove all tags, and with a tweezers I pluck out any loose threads. After tags are removed from side seams, I sew them closed.

A few years back I erroneously thought there was cause to celebrate: a few manufacturers had replaced fabric tags with tagless labels -- stamping or ironing the company name into the garment. I bought a new t-shirt but didn’t put it on until I got home.  The stamped label felt like Brillo ...

...scraping against the back of my neck -- and unlike the sewn-in tags that could be surgically removed, nothing I did could soften this Tagless Terrorist (T.T).  Repeated washings turned the scrape …to scratch … to grain.  Planing with an emery board and then sandpaper ended in failure.  Finally, I covered the T.T. with a band-aid, but that was an even greater irritant.  In the end, I pitched the shirt into the Goodwill box, a sad but wiser shopper.

Now when I go to the store looking for a new t-shirt, blouse, or jacket, I analyze the tag status.  If it’s the iron/stamp-on variety, I immediately return the garment to the rack.  If it’s a fabric tag, I determine how and where the tag was stitched in and the patient's projected survival rate post-surgery.  I’ve already put too many holes in the necks of sweaters – holes that grow larger over time.


 If you like my blogs, you'll probably enjoy reading my novel,"Coming
of  Age...AGAIN," the story of four friends of a "certain age" who prove that with a mix of moxie, humor, wisdom, and a weekly mahjongg game, coming of age can happen more than once.



  1. Most of my stuff now has the washing instruction label in the side. That's somewhat of an improvement. At least when the tags are removed at the neck, the instructions don't go with them! Now, if Icould jsut remember to red those instructions BEFORE I pull the darn garment out of the dryer!

  2. I've been driven so gonzo by those stupid tags that I once tried to cut the tag off of a shirt while I was still wearing it. Of course I cut a hole into the shirt. Have since just been disrobing in ladies rooms to cut them out with one begins to scratch; never occurred to me to do it the minute I got home. You're a genius!

  3. almost all of my sweaters and shirts have a hole in the back where I ripped out the tag. My long hair covers it, but it is still irritating that everyone knows how us consumers hate them, yet the corporations continue to use them, The worst and most stiff and scratchy are from Philipines, Indonesia and China

  4. I hate all of these ridiculous labels, whats so difficult about shoving the required washing instructions and other information we don't need but the EU says we must have on a piece of paper in the unnecessary packaging everything comes in these days. You would not expect the operating instructions printed on your TV or camera, or would you?