monday zipper


Today’s PAD and blog is brought to you by the humble zipper OR the “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure”  as it was first patented in 1851.  It went through a series of improvements until 1923 when B. F. Goodrich put this type fastener on boots and called it a zipper.  For about 2 decades zippers were mostly used on boots and tobacco pouches!  It took an ad campaign promoting zippers for children’s clothing for it become popular on clothing-promoting self-reliance.  The real push for zippers came in 1937 when fashion designers were giddy over the use of zippers in men’s trousers.  A popular magazine featured this new fashion masterpiece with the headline:  Newest Tailoring for Men.  As it extolled the virtues of the zipper,  it suggested that it would eliminate the “possibility of unintentional and embarrassing disarray.”

Oh, that it were true.  Having raised 3 boys I can attest to the fact that replacing buttons with a zipper for the fly on men’s pants did not eliminate the “embarrassing disarray”  that seems to plague men and boys.  There are actually slang phrases to alert men/boys that they have fallen into embarrassing disarray: your barn door is open is a personal favorite.  A lawyer in Michael Connelly’s book The Fifth Witness laments: “I put my hand down below the table to check my zipper. You have to stand before a jury only once with your fly open and it will never happen again”

As ingenious as the zipper might be, it was the bane of my existence in home ec the semester we learned sewing.  I practically wore out one of those little stitch removers between putting in/ripping out sleeves and zippers.  I began to think the button idea was really the best option.  But then I had to learn to make buttonholes, but I digress.

A relatively new invention, it is now commonplace and can be found on clothing, luggage, purses, leather goods of all kinds-and once what was cleverly sewn to be invisible is sometimes a fashion statement and is big and bold.  NASA even got in on the zipper phenom and developed an airtight zipper for the pressure suits and space suits. They now appear routinely on scuba diving suits, ocean survival suits and hazmat suits.

Sometime today I am guessing you will use a zipper, even if you don’t don a hazmat suit or go scuba diving.  Zippers have come a long way from tobacco pouches to ziploc bags.  Hope you smile today when you use a zipper and thank scores of great thinkers from the 1800’s to today for making our lives a little easier because we can “zip it.”

I’m going to zip up my sherpa lined vest and head out into the cold and rainy Minnesota morning!