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Home Home Interior Vintage Plastic and Vinyl Furniture Slip-covers Were King (kind of)

Plastic and Vinyl Furniture Slip-covers Were King (kind of)

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VAV!/April 9, 2012

Tried, tested and true...industrial grade plastic and vinyl furniture slipcovers!

Think back to your earliest memories or stories told to you by those who lived large in the generations of the 1950s and 1960s.  Chances are great, you'll either recall or be well informed about the once common practice of covering the household upholstered furniture with furniture covers (or slip-covers) made from transparent industrial-grade plastic or vinyl.  Actually, for some, the mere mention of vinyl slip-coverings brings vivid and immediate creaking, squeaking, sticky childhood images to mind...

Let's take a moment to ponder,  what most likely started the common practice or tradition of slip covering furniture among our forbearers. What was  'THAT' industrial-grade plastic or vinyl in the first place?

'THAT' plastic or vinyl furniture covering, sold to the discerning consumers by tailors and some larger department stores, went a long way to ward off the occasional unwanted stains, wear, tear and overall misuse from man, woman, children, animal, mineral, plankton, and all foe...thus extending and preserving the beauty and life of furniture forever (and ever). In short, the plastic/vinyl coverings protected and defended the integrity of household furniture, otherwise known as 'company furniture'.  Now, we all know, 'company furniture' was largely reserved for the seating of special guests on holidays, visiting royalty, or the foreboding members of the Parents Teacher Association (PTA).  

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Pictured above: Vinyl covered davenport sectional/By Screen Grab© via Retrogasm and Pinterest

Looking back through the decades to the vinyl slipcovering's heyday, one may wonder in awe at the consumer's very roots and motivation to cover furniture in vinyl, afterall.  Was the practice out of a generational or cultural phenomenon?  Perhaps the frugality driven consumer was merely showing a display of fashion savvy, intermingled amidst an act of random obsession for cleanliness.  Looking further, what of a possible anal-retentive gene gone wild?  The answers to the questions are all subjective and debatable though assuredly, whatever the case, its best left chalked up to 'Different strokes for different blokes...'

Over time and as a matter of course, while some had revered those transparent plastic/vinyl slipcovers and considered them kingly supreme, others found them annoying, distracting, squeaky, sticky and uncomfortable to sit on (not to mention tacky... but we will) especially on hot summer days.

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Where are those vinyl slipcovers today?

Sometime during the 1960s, the custom of vinyl and plastic slip-covering saw a decline as technology in modern upholstery fabrics proved more resistant against dirt and far easier to clean.  Looking back, the legendary vinyl/plastic furniture covers always kept furniture looking its best, no doubt, however most homeowners today are thoroughly content to leave them as a distant memory from the past.  

Throughout every generation, the use of slip covers remains hugely popular, though.  The current custom calls for casual, yet chic slipcovers. They're found available in a variety of colors, materials and designs, while offering a quick 'pep up' to household furniture and offering a renewed and revived look for each season.  

One more thought on vinyl/plastic coverings...

While we've haven't yet delved into other uses of vinyl and plastic heretofore in this article, we'll remind you that yesterday's customs also dictated the practice of draping vinyl runners on household rugs or plastic protectors on lamps, drapes, or automobile seats and visors. Oh, sure the list goes on and on, but  if you're smiling about now and feeling superior to the practices of decades gone by, don't be too hasty to gloat.... today, consumers are still placing protective vinyl and plastic atop their iPads, iPods, iPhones, keyboards, laptops, calculators,  and more.  That's an article for another time...

 

 

*Song from Sam Cooke by brother Charles "LC" Cooke. - You Send Me


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