THE UBIQUITOUS HANGER          - 14/2/2011      <--Prev : Next-->

One's status in life is definitely governed by the state of one's coat hangers. It was Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest" who brought the coat hanger to its rightful fame.

I quote "No. wire... hangers. What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you: no wire hangers EVER? I work and work 'till I'm half-dead, and I hear people saying, "She's getting old." And what do I get? A daughter... who cares as much about the beautiful dresses I give her... as she cares about me. What's wire hangers doing in this closet? Answer me. I buy you beautiful dresses, and you treat them like they were some dishrag."

When we were little we had nothing but wire hangers in our cupboards, the reason being that a group of folk used to make wire hangers at a sheltered workshop called Abilities. Some of the hangers would rust and leave rust marks on the clothes. We did however progress to those wooden ones with the wire hook, remember those wooden ones that gave you splinters ?

The finer folk amongst us had their wooden hangers covered with pretty crochet covers ... now crocheting covers for coat hangers must be on that list called "life's too short" but they looked pretty... Mum even had some wooden hangers carefully covered in velvet, now they looked splendid in a girl's wardrobe.

Progress came at last and we all moved to plastic hangers, those ones with the extra hook on which one could hang slips by their straps to prevent them from falling off.

The more careful amongst us housewives would ensure the hooks all faced the same way in the closet and the obsessive would colour code clothes and hangers !!

Today one is spoilt for choice, HeeHoo's suits must all be on one of those giant cedar hangers with the rubberised bottom bar to prevent the trousers from escaping into a heap on the closet floor. Woe betide the person who uses a common or garden plastic hanger or a WIRE HANGER !! Shriek !!

My favourite are those hangers with rubber areas to stop the clothes from slipping off the end and when my babes were small I managed to rescue from an aunty some dear little hangers specially for tiny dresses and tops.

Now when SheeHoo was in the States, her cupboard was filled with wire coat hangers. Its pretty cheap to have clothes dry cleaned in the USA and each item comes back from the dry cleaner with its own plastic cover and wire coat hanger. Before shehoo moved back to Africa, I carefully bundled the hangers and took them back to the dry cleaner. They looked at me rather strangely and I am sure they binned them as soon as my back was turned !!

The invention of the wire coat hanger is attributed to Albert J Parkhouse in 1903. In response to co-workers' complaints of too few coat hooks, and in a burst of inventive inspiration, Albert J Parkhouse bent a piece of wire into two ovals with the ends twisted together to form a hook. He then he grabbed some wire and twisted it around so that it fit inside the shoulders of his coat. he bent another wire to curl in the center, allowed him to hang the coat practically anywhere he wanted. he continued to refine the idea over the next few weeks and soon, all the other employees started using copies provided by Albert.

Victorian women's skirts and bustles received great care by hanger inventors and manufacturers, with adjustable hangers often using spring systems to hold the waistbands and allow the skirts to retain pleats and folds. Moving further into the twentieth century, wire manufacturers were producing hundreds of styles of hangers meant to shape and contour. Spring coiled wire gave dimension to some, while extra hooks allowed belts and other accoutrements to hang from others. Travel hangers collapsed, folded, and telescoped with ease.not to be outdone, tailors and clothing merchants advertised their businesses on specialty hangers.

So come on examine your closet and throw out all those wire hangers !!