Comfy dusters (and how they came to be)

It’s week 3 of Extended Community Quarantine here in Manila, and we’ve been working from home. A lot of us have been rocking our favorite house wear, but nothing beats the cool comfort of wearing the Pinay duster (pronounced as daster).

My beautiful Mama Delia ❤

Dusters originally started out as cowboy outfits worn to protect inner clothing from dust (duh!) as you ride around with your horse. It was eventually appropriated into a linen coat worn when riding automobiles to protect your fancy clothes from… well dust. By the 1920s, it metamorphosed into indoor clothing, often worn by women, to protect their houseclothes when… ehrm, dusting… around the house.

In the Philippines, duster-like clothes were worn by women when bathing or washing clothes in the river for modesty. The loose cloth is tied above the breasts and its length and width are perfect to allow squatting and climbing up the steep slopes of rivers. With the American colonialization, the duster made its way into the home as well, but instead of using cotton or linen, original Philippine dusters were made of batik cloth from Indonesia.

The beautiful prints and the resilience of this cloth is linked to the precise technology that allows for its making. Linked with the hydrophobicity of wax, and beautiful plant-based dyes, original batik cloths can take as long as a year to make due to the repeated practice of drawing the prints with wax and immersing in dyes based on how many colors there are in the textile.

Dusters can be heirlooms passed from one generation to the next. In this video, I rock some of the dusters my Mama Delia has passed on to me while I discuss the science behind dusters:

Thanks for passing by!

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me, your resident Filipina scientist, know in the comments section below.

And remember, when in doubt, always use your (con)science!