How to Stop Sweating Out Your Favorite Outfit: Material Choices & High Temps

There are so many things to think about when choosing an outfit. It may be easier for some than others and the process may or may not take that long. But think back to when you got dressed to look good for an occasion, only to find yourself too hot or too cold in that outfit? Oh no! Based on the weather or your activities for the day, choosing the best type of fabrics to wear is quite important. And for the most part, it’s often easy to identify what type of fiber or fabric a material is by look or touch alone. 

So because there can be that awkward stage when the seasons change, we want to remind you that your fabric choice should have you looking good and feeling comfortable!

Clothes are made from natural fabrics or synthetic fabrics.  Each type of fabric varies depending on the weight of a material and how it is woven. Nice lil’ sidebit: ARPA-E – the research arm of the US Department of Energy – are developing clothes that can change their thermal properties to adapt to the environment and wearer’s body. 

Let’s keep in mind that the body’s natural cooling system is to sweat. Different materials can have an effect on this process. The 2 main factors for determining the best fabric type to choose: breathability (airflow) and absorption.

There are a slew of fabrics and advancements in the textile industry which have come with advances in fibers, check out facts on these most popular fabrics:


'Cause we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl’ - Madonna


the most popular fabrics.

Cotton is naturally derived from the cotton plant, which is exceptionally durable. It allows more airflow for a higher breathability. Since cotton is more breathable, it tends to be cooler by letting your body heat escape through the fabric. Cotton also has high absorption so it will absorb sweat and allow for evaporation.

However, in very hot and humid weather, this can cause a person to sweat a lot. Cotton does not dry very quickly, so in this scenario, evaporation is not occurring as fast, which keeps body heat in longer. The shirt then becomes wet and can cause the shirt to stick to their skin. This can be uncomfortable and cause skin irritation.

A lighter cotton shirt will allow evaporation to occur more quickly and will be better for these types of conditions or activities. Heavier cotton shirts take longer for sweat to evaporate and actually retains more heat.

Keep in mind that since cotton absorbs moisture, it is very visible when someone is sweating in a cotton shirt. Since it absorbs sweat, it can also become stinky! Cotton, though, is very easy to launder and pretty durable to stand up to multiple washings.

Why we love it: Cotton is durable, soft and comfortable. It breathes well and is a part of our daily lives. It's extremely easy to take care of and good for the environment.
However: Cotton will wear down over time, losing shape and color after a certain number of washes.

Linen is a natural fabric derived from the flax plant -- similar to flax seeds. It has been used for thousands of years, traced back to the Ancient Egyptians who used it for wrapping mummies. The fiber is very strong, absorbent and dries faster than cotton.

Why we love it: It's cool and lightweight, perfect for summer months. It breathes well and while it's casual, has a certain elegance about it.
However: This fabric wrinkles fast so whenever possible, hang your linen clothes, don't fold!


Silk is a natural fiber derived from the Chinese silkworm. The fibers of the cocoon of the silkworm are typically in two forms: mulberry silk (in which the worms feed on mulberry leaves) and wild silk (wherein they feed on oak leaves). The worms build their cocoons before turning into a moth, and this is where the fiber lies: so the cocoons are boiled and spun into silk. This soft and supple fabric is surprisingly strong and cooling on hot days. Its tightly woven fibers absorb moisture in warm weather while its low conductivity retains heat during cold weather.

Silk is luxurious and soft, reflecting light so it has a beautiful sheen. It's a natural fabric.
However: the fabric is expensive and hard to care for.

Polyester was created in 1951, and was hailed as a miracle textile. Generally, polyester will repel any sort of water/moisture/sweat. Because of this, if polyester does get wet, it is pretty quick to dry.

Why we love it: It's extremely durable, and can be worn over and over again without losing its color or shape. As a synthetic fabric, it's easy to care for and doesn't easily wrinkle.
However: this type of material is not very breathable and can trap moisture and heat beneath clothing. Since it does not breathe well, it acts as an insulation by keeping warm air and body heat in so it can be good for cooler weather. It can be itchy and is also not biodegradable.

Wool is derived from the hair of sheep, and has been used for thousands of years. Other common forms are cashmere, from the Indian Cashmere Goat, mohair from the North African Angora Goat, and angora from the Angora Rabbit. It's different from other common animal hair because the individual strands are coated with scales and are tightly crimped, also coated with a wax known as lanolin.

Why we love it: wool is hypoallergenic and super duper warm (even when wet!). It is soft (especially when it's cashmere) and it doesn't pass electricity easily -- great for those of us who HATE static electricity.
However: It can sometimes be itchy and if you wash it at a high temperature, it's bound to shrink... a lot.

Nylon was initially created as an alternative to silk, and is often referred to as a polyamide. It's synthetic, having been created in the 1930s. It replaced silk for stockings, which is what gave them the name "nylons."

Why we love it: Nylon is strong, inexpensive and versatile. It's a good option for those who are against silk for its controversial properties.
However: Too much washing and drying can make the fabric pill, and it will melt at high temperatures.

Rayon is a fabric that can mimic silk, linen or cotton and is manufactured by regenerating cellulose fibers. It's made from "naturally occurring polymers," but is manufactured, so it's not technically synthetic or natural.

Why we love it: It's soft, smooth and comfortable, draping well and holding color very well. Rayon tends to be lighter and is very breathable. Combined with absorbing moisture well, this type of fabric is good for keeping someone cooler in warmer weather.

However: It decays faster than cotton, so it does not age well. Also, manufacturing rayon produces a lot of waste.

Want Tips on Fabric Choices and Dressing for the Season? Check out this great article by Family Britches!