Whether you consider yourself a ‘sweaty person’ or not, at some point this summer you’re bound to have some kind of wet patch fiasco.
You might be someone who needs only a small spritz of deodorant in the morning, or the girl whose friends whisper ‘S.U.L.A.’ (sweaty upper lip alert) to her in a social gathering. Regardless, the predicted hot climes of this summer in the UK are already playing havoc with our wardrobe decisions.
Your quilted Bottega Venetta mules might have served some high octane glamour in spring, but the dribble of sweat running down your legs after a hot bus ride rather undermines this statement in summer. And that polyester, oversized dress in light grey isn’t going to be such a clever investment when you’re having to fan your darkly damp underarms.
Seriously summer, you’re really testing our patience.
Hot weather is great for the much-needed cold brew and vitamin D post lockdown, but we’re already struggling to know how to dress, not only for the prairie dress trend, but for our excessive public perspiration.
As a result, we’ve rounded up a list of fabric do and don’ts for the summer because, let’s face it, we’re tired permanently glueing our elbows to our sides.
Summer fabric Dos:
There’s a reason your summer wardrobe consists of so many cotton dresses, shirts and flared skirts.
Cotton is a natural fibre which allows air to circulate and move freely through the fabric, ensuring airflow that dries out damp areas of the body. A good quality lightweight cotton also absorbs moisture, allowing you to cool down quickly, and comes in a variety of styles and colours.
However, be warned, because cotton creases easily. So, when it comes to packing for a holiday, a cotton polyester blend may be your best option.
It’s also worth noting that as cotton soaks up moisture, it can become heavy and wet so may show sweat patches. As a result, you’re best bet is to opt for light, rather than dark, colours in order to avoid pit marks.
All hail, linen. Linen is a loosely woven, natural fibre which allows heat to escape from the body, it absorbs moisture and dries quickly.
What does this mean? You + linen = cool as a cucumber.
It’s also pretty malleable so doesn’t tend to stick to the body. However, it can wrinkle quite easily so look for linen blends if crinkles aren’t your bag.
Silk is a lightweight fabric that’s a popular choice for hot climes thanks to its construction by sericulture (the term used to describe the process of gathering the silkworms and harvesting the cocoon to collect the materials).
Some may prefer to wear a silk shirt than a polyester version given its weightlessness nature band tendency to adjust to your body temperature.
That said, it’s worth noting that silk isn’t as absorbent as its cotton or linen contemporaries and choosing to wear a silk slip or skirt may result in sweat stains on a very humid day.
Silk – a fabric for indoor lounging rather than dancing at parties.
Chambray is a plain weave fabric, made with a coloured yarn in the warp and a white yarn in the weft, similar to denim.
Its lightweight and darker shades commonly absorb the majority of sweat meaning you can say ‘goodbye’ to bum sweat. Chambray also commonly comes in a higher thread count, meaning it’s a finer weave and therefore more breathable.
Swap denim wardrobe options for chambray alternatives and see your summer sweat days officially over.
A knit fabric originally made of wool, Jersey has come a long way over the years thanks to evolving production methods.
Nowadays, it’s common to find jersey that’s been manufactured from a combination of wool, cotton and synthetic fibres. Its flexibility and comfort makes it a popular option for hot weather.
Summer fabric Don’ts:
While the fabric is highly stain-resistant and durable, polyester is also a sweaty person’s nightmare in summer.
When it was created in 1950 in the US, it was advertised by the clothes manufacturer Du Pont with the tagline: ‘Miracles can happen.’ The fabric was championed for being wrinkle resistant, damage resistant, cool and comfortable.
In the 1970s, it was again marketed as ‘a miracle fibre that can be worn for 68 days straight without ironing, and still look presentable’.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Exactly.
Woven or knitted from polyester thread or yarn, polyester base fabrics are water resistant which means they’re horrendous at absorbing any hint of moisture. Basically, wearing polyester means you’ll be trapped in a vacuum of your own sweat all day.
This might explain why those bargain garments in your wardrobe stay exactly there – in your wardrobe – during summer.
It might be a low cost fabric but believe us, it’s worth paying the extra money in the summer to avoid uncomfortable sweat patches. Swap polyester for cotton, for all our sakes.
Rayon is a sneaky devil.
It’s a man-made fabric blended from cotton, wood pulp, and other natural or synthetic fibres.
While the thin fibres of rayon make it light and prevents sticking to the body, let’s not forget it’s made of synthetic fibres, just like polyester, meaning it’s more likely to repel than absorb water.
If you remember one thing from this article, it’s that you want your summer fabrics to absorb not repel water. Yes, this may sound contradictory to someone who suffers from sweat patches on their clothes but textures that repel moisture actually mean areas of dampness are more likely to show on what you wear.
Yes, those original Levi shorts may look cute on the beach, but you’ve got to be one hell of a brave soul to wear denim in summer.
Denim is a durable, heavyweight fabric which means it isn’t breathable nor stretchy – two words which basically mean ‘anti-sweat’.
Bum sweat, chaffing, increased sweat – let’s just say denim is not your friend, my fellow sweaters.
Say it with me now: ‘Chambray.’
Wrapping yourself up in fleece – think cosy pyjamas at Christmas – sounds like an obvious ‘no no’ come summer, but let this be a reminder to you.
Certain lightweight wool fabrics, specifically labelled as ‘summer wool’ might be okay in the hot weather, but fleece is derived from polyester so brings with it all of the summer cons which include trapping moisture and preventing ventilation.
Let your pits breathe by avoiding fleece at all costs until winter.
In addition to avoiding leather for environmental, animal and ethic reasons, the words ‘summer’ and ‘leather’ don’t usually go together for a reason.
Made of animal hide, leather is a thick fabric which is great for insulation during chilly seasons.
While leather might continue to be a trend championed by influencers all-year round, it’s important to remember that if you do choose to wear leather, it should preferably be vintage, loose-fitting and lightweight.
Think paper-bag-waist shorts, flowing dresses and culottes.
A synthetic material, nylon isn’t anything but a cool fabric to weather in the summer as it’s specifically designed to repel water.
While it might be commonly used in athleisurewear given its wicking abilities, resistance to abrasion and fast drying make-up, it retains odour, can cause chaffing and has very low breathability.
Similar to nylon, acrylic is a synthetic material and is often hot and abrasive.
According to clothes manufacturer Sewport, acrylic has high moisture-wicking abilities, retains water and is very stretchable. However, its composition of synthetic polyacrylonitrile polymer makes it one of the worst breathable fabrics in the world.