Summer Fabric Guide.

16 November 2016

By Musa Bwanali

When dressing up in summer, the fabric of the garment is as important (if not more) as the design. The wrong type of fabric will have you sweaty and uncomfortable in no time as some tend to trap heat by providing an insulating layer over the skin. Other fabrics tend to reflect heat back to the body and inhibit the outward flow of warm, moist air and this is often true of synthetic fibres, such as polyester.  Another important factor is the ability of a material to absorb water - synthetic fibres tend to be water-repellent, allowing sweat to build up, reducing evaporation, and causing discomfort and irritation. Natural fibres are generally better at soaking up moisture from the skin and allowing it to evaporate from the outer surface. So as you go about shopping and picking what to wear, here’s a short fabric guide:


No other textile wears quite as well in this heat as cotton. Cotton is a soft fibre that grows round the seeds of a cotton plant. This fibre is spun into threads that are woven into light and breathable cloth. This material is perfect for all kinds of climates and comes in many varieties which makes it a wardrobe staple. The greatest advantage to wearing cotton, especially in summer, is that the natural fibre allows for air circulation, making the heat more bearable. Do remember to hang dry your cotton clothing.


Known as denim’s lightweight doppelgänger, chambray is a plainly woven cloth which makes it airy.  It’s a summer must because it too will keep you cool in this heat. Since chambray has a similar look to denim, you can still rock the look without the weight. The soft but durable fabric is showing up in dresses, jumpsuits, pants and sneakers. Its light denim shade is almost a neutral, allowing for it to be styled effortlessly with an array of outfits. Dress up your chambray dress by pairing it with heels for a date-night. And don’t worry, even with a slight wrinkle in it, chambray looks crisp and cool.


Rayon is the oldest manufactured fibre, having been in production since the 1880s in France, where it was originally developed as a cheap alternative to silk. It is used in a variety of textile applications, including shirts and skirts, and appears in both woven and knitted forms. Rayon is best in dry heat as it is thinner than cotton, making it delicate and lightweight. Stylist tip: wear the light coloured garments in white, cream or pastels.


Linen was made for heat! It has been around for centuries and for a good reason too. The natural fiber and light weave allow for maximum breathability making it the coolest of the cool. If you’re not into ironing, lightly spray your linen garment with a water bottle and smooth over the wrinkles with your hand (not to try every day though).



Summer blends are comprised of any one of these fabrics: cotton, polyester, spandex, nylon and rayon.  These synthetic fibres are known for detracting moisture, keep their shape and require little to no maintenance (like ironing). And since they resist heat so well, you can wash and dry garments without worrying about damage or shrinkage.




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