Discover more about the best fabrics for summer here.
The best fabrics for summer
Here is our must-have guide with a quick and easy overview of the best fabrics to wear for summer, as well as the materials that are best avoided.
Choosing the right fabrics to stay comfortable and stylish all summer long
As the temperature climbs, choosing the right fabric for your outfit is the key to keeping comfortable and stylish in the heat. This handy list takes you through the best materials to choose for hot, summery days–and the ones you should leave in your wardrobe until autumn.
Whoever coined the phrase “horses sweat, men perspire but a lady gently glows” needs a serious reality check now that summer is here. This adage may have been true for gentile ladies in Victorian times, but let’s be honest and accept that sweating is a natural, important and healthy way to keep cool when the mercury starts to rise.
Wearing the right fabrics makes it so much easier to breeze through your day. Your go-to choices are lightweight, breathable fabrics, ideally made from natural fibres that will encourage airflow around your body and absorb any moisture, both of which will help keep you cooler.
The five best fabrics for summer clothes: our top picks
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing the best fabric to wear in hot weather, here are our favourites:
A traditional summer choice and our top pick for the heat. Cotton is made of natural fibres that allow air to circulate more efficiently around your body in hot weather, keeping you cooler. It is also absorbent. This means when you do sweat, cotton will take and trap the moisture and allow it to dry more easily.
Cotton is also very versatile. Your summer wardrobe probably already contains a range of cotton tops, blouses, trousers and dresses which give you plenty of scope for hot weather outfits.
The downside is that cotton creases quite easily and it can be hard to maintain that crisp, just-ironed look of a garment all day. If this is a problem, consider including some cotton blends that are more resilient.
The other problem is that cotton does tend to show sweat patches. To minimise this, choose clothing in lighter colours where any areas of moisture will be less obvious than on dark ones. You can also accessorise with a light cardigan, a blazer or a carefully-draped scarf if you need a little extra temporary coverage.
Linen is another lovely summer option. It is made from natural fibres with a loose-textured weave, so linen clothes allow heat to escape. This will keep you cooler and fresher in hot weather, and means that any areas of moisture will dry out more quickly.
Opt for lightweight, unlined jackets, stylish flared skirts and comfortable relaxed-fitting trousers for a stylish, quintessentially summery look.
For something a little bit different, we love the light weight and puckered texture of this cotton-based fabric. And because it is worn so widely in very hot climates all over the world, it must be doing something right when it comes to warm-weather dressing.
Traditionally seersucker is produced in patterns with narrow stripes of pretty colours alternated with white, making it a classically elegant choice.
Seersucker is an excellent fabric for a summer blouse, a relaxed lightweight suit or a dress. It has all the advantages of wearing cotton and the big plus is that the textured surface means that if it does get a little creased when you wear it, people are much less likely to notice.
Chambray is another natural-fibre fabric that can be made from cotton, linen and sometimes silk. In many ways it is similar to denim (it usually comes in a light blue colour similar to faded jeans) but the weaving process means that it is much lighter and more breathable. This means that it makes an excellent alternative to heavy denim in hot weather.
Cheesecloth is a loosely-woven, ultra-light cotton fabric that is strong and very absorbent. It also has a naturally textured surface that makes it more resistant than many other fabrics to creasing. It is perfect for floaty summer blouses, dresses and skirts with a retro feel, or as a beach cover-up.
Just one word of warning: the lightness of cheesecloth means that it can be see-through, so check your look in the mirror before you set off!
The worst fabrics to wear in summer
Many synthetic materials are designed to be practical, stain-resistant and hard-wearing. And while these are useful qualities in a fabric, when it comes to a heatwave you may find wearing man-made materials leaves you feeling sticky and uncomfortable.
Here are four materials you should definitely avoid in summer
Because of its hard-wearing properties, polyester traps moisture from your skin and does not allow air to circulate. This means sweat cannot escape from between your clothes and your skin and will leave you feeling clammy, hot and uncomfortable.
Nylon is stretchy and flexible and is a popular choice for sports and gym wear. However, it also lacks the breathable properties of natural fabrics and will hold sweat next to your skin. While this may be fine for a few hours’ workout, it is advisable to change out of it as soon as you have finished, as it can lead to chafing if worn in the heat for long periods of time.
3. and 4. Vinyl and leather
Oh-so-stylish vinyl and leather make a real fashion statement, but are unforgiving in the heat. For this reason both are best worn only as accessories such as shoes and bags during very hot weather.
Stay cool and stylish all season long by following our top tips for the best fabrics to wear in summer.