December 19, 2017 6 min read
You’re in the dressing room, trying on some pieces from your favorite clothing store. You check out how it fits, how the color looks on your skin, and how comfortable you feel wearing it. Unless you’re Miranda Priestly (any Devil Wears Prada fans?), you probably didn’t think much about what kind of fabric it’s made of. Fabric is so essential to a piece of clothing, but it’s not something that we shoppers really know too much about.
In this fabric guide, we’re gonna talk about a few of the most common fabrics used to make clothing– what they’re made of, how to take care of them, and when to wear (or not wear) them!
Probably the most common textile in our fabric guide, cotton comes from the cotton plant (imagine a cotton ball growing on a stem) and is processed and spun into thread or yarn. It’s super soft and really durable, and therefore one of the most commonly used fabrics in clothing. It’s used to make t-shirts, denim, sweatshirts, as well as a lot of non-clothing textiles. Care for your cotton clothing by keeping it out of the sun (cotton fades pretty easily) and washing it in cool water (hot water makes it shrink).
Cotton is the perfect year-round fabric. During the summer, wear lightweight t-shirts or some casual cotton pants. Over winter, wear a cotton top as a base layer.
Cotton is more of a casual fabric, so avoid wearing it to formal occasions or in more professional settings. Also be cautious wearing cotton on days where you know you’ll be sweating A LOT. Cotton absorbs moisture very easily.
Wear wool when you want to be warm! Wool is great at keeping in warmth during those colder winter days. It’s a great top layer because it’s so thick, but should probably be avoided as a base layer.
Avoid wearing wool when it’s warm outside; wool is super thick and will make you feel like you’re living in a sauna once you start to sweat! Also, avoid wearing wool as a base layer. While it’s usually very soft, some types of wool can also get really itchy. Try to keep another layer of clothing between your cozy sweater and your skin.
Leather is great as a top layer; the thick skin is perfect for keeping out the cold and blocking wind. It’s also a fantastic statement piece for any outfit! Try some leather bottoms or a killer leather jacket to really stand out.
Leather is another one to avoid when it’s warmer. It’s not breathable and traps in moisture, so a pair of leather pants is going to turn your lower body into a sauna when it’s hot. Also be cautious wearing leather in more professional settings; leather can be flashy so keep it minimal!
Silk can be very formal and elegant, so it’s great to wear for special occasions! Silk clothing usually has a loose and relaxed fit, so it’s ideal for summer and spring. Silk accessories (like a neck scarf) are perfect all year round.
Thin and lightweight, silk is not typically a fabric to wear in the cooler months. In the summer, beware of pit stains!
Rayon first came about as an inexpensive alternative to silk–it’s made from wood pulp rather than insect larvae. Rayon can imitate the texture and feel of a wide range of fabrics, so it’s used in all types of clothing. Either dry clean your rayon items or hand wash them in cold water and air dry them!
Rayon is really similar to silk, so wear it for formal occasions and in warmer weather! It’s super versatile though, so experiment with different types of pieces to find what works for you!
If you’re dressing warm, avoid rayon! If you do try it during the winter, play around with layering!
Spandex is great for active wear. It stretches with you and won’t hold you back from any physical activity, and it’s great for repelling moisture.
Spandex is typically super casual, so avoid it for professional or formal occasions.
Since nylon is so durable and flexible, it’s used for a lot of activewear and allows for easy movement.
Nylon is super prone to static electricity. Avoid it when the air is dry, and try to stick to just one piece of nylon clothing to limit static electricity.
Wear acrylic to keep you warm! It’s super warm but also really lightweight.
Acrylic usually doesn’t hold up well against abrasion, so be careful about when and where you choose to wear it. It’s also one to avoid on warmer days or when the air is really dry (also prone to static electricity).
Polyester is super durable and super diverse, so it works for almost any occasion!
Polyester is not the most breathable fabric, so avoid wearing it when you know you’ll be warm.
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