What’s the best way to keep cool on a hot summer day? Choose breathable, natural fibers!

Clothing made of cotton, linen, and viscose are made for the heat. They’re truly summer-friendly materials to choose for your wardrobe. Silk is also a natural fiber that is soft and cool to the touch, but I find it’s less breathable than cotton and linen.

Whether you’re buying your wardrobe on sale or new, sewing your own garments, or flipping a thrifted buy to wear at work, a night out, or on a sweet get-away, here’s a quick look at some of the properties of the best fabric to reach for when the temperature rises.

Stock photo, post created in Canva by mas

Cotton. It’s soft, breathable, moisture-absorbing, and available in a range of colors, weights, and thickness — from light and semi-sheer (batiste, lawn, voile) to opaque and durable (chambray, poplin broadcloth, canvas, denim).

Linen is a gorgeous, slubby fabric that softens with each washing. It’s breathable and moisture-absorbing, and for my money, one of the best things about summer! Fashion linen is thinner and lighter in weight than quality bed linen (hello best. sheets. ever.) because the flax fiber that’s used comes from the large center of the plant. OK! (LMK if you want a future post on linen bedding…!)

Viscose. A chemical process transforms wood pulp and other natural sources (cellulose) into this stable fiber. It’s breathable, like cotton, and smooth, like silk, and has a beautiful drape. It easily takes the dye of bright, vivid colors, also. Because of the chemical processing required, I’m not a huge fan of buying it new, but I’m drawn to it’s beautiful drape and I’ve thrifted several pieces over the years as a result.

What’s your go-to summer fabric?

Header image: Stock photo

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