Want to wear latex for the first time? Tried it once but couldn't get it to work? Our tips will help you find the right retailer and get the most out of your latex.
What is latex
Latex is a naturally occurring material that comes from the milky liquid found in the rubber tree, Hevea Brasiliensis. A small cut is made in the bark of the tree and liquid latex flows out, which then becomes a solid when it is exposed to air. This is rolled into sheets, and then cut into pattern pieces, much like a cotton sheet. Latex clothes are glued together as latex cannot be sewed.
Why latex instead of PVC
If you've searched online for latex you've probably come across clothes made from petroleum products too, like PVC and plastic. These aren't as comfortable to wear due to the backing material, and don't conform to your body like latex so avoid these. They are easy to spot as they are often cheaper and will be sewn.
What does latex feel like
Most latex retailers sell untreated latex clothes, which, without talc or lubricant, feel sticky to touch. When you unwrap your new piece of clothing it will almost always already have talc on it, so you can usually go ahead and try it on right away.
This can be a bit of a hassle, and many of the articles you can find online talk about the difficulty of getting into and out of untreated latex. This can easily be fixed though, so read on below to find out how to make your latex easy to wear.
Making latex easier to wear
While there isn't anything wrong with using talc and lubricant with your latex clothing, it can be messy and adds difficulty, so we recommend treating your latex to make it slippery and smooth to touch. Once this is done you can pull on and off your latex without any lube or talc and you can really wear it much like any other piece of clothing. It won't catch on other layers of clothing, which will slide easily over it, and it won't smell as much or make as much noise too. You won't believe how easy it is to slip into, or how silky the outside will be, until you've gotten it done.
The treatment process is known as chlorination, and there are a number of suppliers that can do this for you for a relatively small fee, $20 or so. If you're in the UK, we recommend Catalyst Latex who will chlorinate any of your existing clothes, and sell pre chlorinated clothes too.
If buying a new piece from another brand, we recommend trying it on first with talc to make sure that it fits before sending it to get chlorinated, as chlorination makes it harder to adjust and will void any right of return that you have.
Latex is completely waterproof so doesn't breathe like a cotton piece of clothing would, so it's pretty normal to be worried about sweating inside your new clothes. This isn't really much of a problem though. You might sweat a little bit when you first put it on, but after a bit you'll forget you're even wearing it.
If you're wearing it on a hot day or dancing it can actually have some benefits, as a thin layer of sweat will help your clothes slide across your skin which makes your latex clothing more comfortable the longer you wear it.
If you sweat a bit and are still worried about it you can buy a looser piece, or one with more ventilation, like a sleeveless or halter next dress.
Unfortunately, if you have an allergy to latex it really is best to steer clear. Some people have reported that chlorination prevents this, but we recommend checking with your doctor first.
Latex is a bit like leather in that it needs a bit of special care and attention, but if you follow a few simple rules it should last you many years. You can find more information below, or in our article, here.
Most latex is sold online, but a handful of stores also have walk in shops where you can try on a selection of their clothes. Our full review of stores is available here, but for a first look Westward Bound and Libidex are good starting points.
How you put on your new latex garment will depend on if you've decided to treat your latex or not.
If you've treated it then you can skip the lubricant/talc, and gently pull on your garment. The only real thing to be careful of is putting a finger nail through thin garments, so try to keep you nails clear.
If you've got untreated latex then you will need to add something to help the latex slide on to your body. Talc or lubricant are the normal options. Talc can be a bit easier to clean, but can get a bit sticky as you wear the latex, whereas a lubricant like beGLOSS Easy Glide or Cult Pjur Dressing Aid can be harder to clean but lubricates for longer.
Whatever you choose, apply it to the inside of the garment or directly onto your body and gently pull the garment on, watching for finger nails as these can scratch or put a hole in your garment.
Once you've got your new garment on, there are a few other things worth noting.
Smoking can stain your garment so if you're a smoker make sure you wash your hands before you touch your garment. A hot butt could also melt your garment.
Sunlight slowly damages latex and causes discolouration. It's fine to wear your latex in the sun, but try to minimise the amount of time that you're out there.
Latex melts, so be careful of hot things like radiators.
Metal objects, especially those containing copper can stain your garment, so choose your jewellery carefully. Money can also stain, so keep this in your purse.
Oils and solvents can really damage your latex garments, so no repairing your car while dressed!
Again, this step depends on it you've treated your latex clothes or not.
Treated latex is easy to slide off. Just pull from the far end and the outside will slide over itself with ease. Sometimes the inside can become a little sticky after long periods of wearing it, so if you're having trouble, jump in the shower and let the water run between you and the garment.
Untreated latex worn with talc can be pulled off gently, or edged off if its become sticky. Just be careful not to bunch it as it will become very hard to stretch once bunched together. If you're having trouble, jump in the shower and let the water run between you and the garment..
Untreated latex worn with lubricant usually slides off the same way that it was put on. Again, if you're having trouble, jump in the shower and let the water run between you and the garment.
After wear care
As latex is sensitive to oils and sweat contains oil it's important to wash your garment within a few days of wearing it. This is best done by hand with mild soapy water. Once it's washed and rinsed you can dry it with a towel and then hang to dry completely. If you've left your garment wet for a while you might notice some discolouration from where the latex has absorbed some water, but this should disappear once you've hung it out to dry.
If you have untreated latex it's also good to apply a small amount of lube or talc to the inside to stop it sticking together between wears.
All latex clothes should be stored in a dark place like a wardrobe to make sure that they last as long as is possible. A clothes cover for garments on a hanger works well to ensure this too.
A thick white plastic hanger is the best option for hanging latex clothes as wooden hangers contain oil, and latex can crease over time so a thicker hanger helps spread the weight of the garment. Metal hangers are obviously a no-go.
Some latex clothes can't be hung so try and lay gently to avoid creasing. You can't iron latex, so it's best to avoid the creases in the first place.
If you have both light and dark latex clothes it's best to make sure these aren't touching while stored as the lighter garments can absorb some of the colour from the darker garments over time and stain.