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The Best Fabrics for Beating the Summer Heat

by Emily DeLong

01 August 2017

I'm already in full-on dreaming-of-fall mode, but unfortunately (or fortunately, if you're someone who's not me), we've still got a decent bit of summer left. It's officially the time of year where I'm incredibly sick and tired of the bug bites, the sunburns, and — worst of all — that suffocating feeling of an impenetrable layer of sweat trapped between your skin and your clothing.

The good news is that while I can't help you combat the bug bites or the sunburns, I can say that preventing a clothing-induced heat crisis is possible — as long as you're wearing the right thing. Read below to discoverer the coolest, most breathable materials and fabrics for beating the summer heat.

 

1. Cotton

Cotton comes in many different varieties and weaves, but it's the universal all-weather fabric for a reason. As a natural fiber, it's extremely breathable, the most important characteristic for summer clothing. Seek out organic cotton when you can, and opt for loose, gauzy weaves like cotton double gauze for ultimate comfort.

 

2. Linen

If you don't already equate summer dressing with linen, here's why you should: it's it's lightweight, it's insanely breathable, it can absorb lots of moisture before feeling the slightest bit wet, and it dries super quickly. On top of all that, linen in also incredibly soft yet sturdy, and comes in a variety of weights perfect for all types of garments: tops, pants, dresses — you name it. If I had to wear one fiber all summer, it would definitely be linen.

 

3. Hemp

Hemp has similar cooling and moisture-wicking properties as linen, and it's extremely durable to boot. Especially when in a looser weave, hemp makes a fantastic, breathable pair of summer pants or shorts, and the fabric gets softer each time you wash it.

 

4. Tencel

Tencel, made from the bark of eucalyptus trees, is an unsung summer wardrobe hero. It's soft, breathable, and resists moisture, so it's ideal for humid, sticky days. It's also remarkably un-clingy, so even if you do find yourself covered in sweat, your clothes are still unlikely to stick to you. Our upcoming FW17 collection is lined entirely in Tencel, and I've been remarkably cool and comfortable wear-testing the pieces in the collection despite the hot, humid Arkansas summer.

 

5. Silk

As a protein fiber, silk is remarkably good at maintaining a comfortable body temperature in both the summer and the winter (in the same way that wool is). And for fancy summertime events, a cool, lightweight silk dress cannot be beat.

The only caveat is that silk does not stand up well to sweat stains, so don't bust out your silk if you're planning on any strenuous outdoor activity. (Or, you can have your cake and eat it too with a silk dress lined with gauzy organic cotton.)