Wearing the wrong fabric for the occasion can ruin an otherwise lovely day. We've all ended up cold and sweaty when we wore that old cotton shirt skiing or unbearably smelly in a moisture-wicking running shirt. Here is the perfect guide to picking the right fabric for the right occasion so you can avoid cold and smelly clothing disasters.
Cotton: A wonderfully versatile fabric, cotton is one of the oldest commonly used natural fabric. Cotton is a great fabric for durable clothing like jeans. While cotton is very warm, it does retain water. Cotton is best worn when you need a durable fabric, but does not perform well as active wear.
Modal: Modal is a naturally derived fabric that is both functional and luxurious. Underwear and pajamas are often made out of this durable fabric. Modal has better moisture-wicking properties than cotton and is highly breathable. Modal is a great fabric to wear while lounging or working out!
Viscose: A semi-synthetic fabric made from wood pulp, viscose is a durable fabric looks like silk, but feels like cotton. It is often mixed with elastane to add stretch. Viscose is a good fabric for athletic wear because it does not trap heat and has moisture-wicking properties. Viscose is a lower cost, durable, alternative to more expensive and delicate fabrics like silk.
Silk: Breathable and soft, silk is the perfect fabric for sleepwear. You won't overheat in silk pajamas. Silk is an amazing fabric, but it is high-maintenance. Don't bring your silk pajamas on a backpacking trip or throw them in the dryer. This luxury fabric is not your everyday workhorse, but it will make you feel like royalty every time you wear it.
Wool: Wool comes in many different varieties and has different properties depending on the animal, but the main properties remain the same. Wool is insulating, durable, anti-microbial, and moisture-wicking. Wool is a wonderful fabric to wear as a base-layer in the winter. Wool can often be itchy so, other than luxurious cashmere, most sleepwear or loungewear is not made of wool.
Silk-wool: This work horse is the perfect fabric for any activity. Silk-wool blends maintain the moisture-wicking, insulating, and anti-microbial properties of wool while keeping the softness and sheen of silk. By combining these fabrics you lose the itchy property of wool and the delicate nature of silk. This fabric will keep you warm and dry in the winter and cool in the summer. It is perfect for sleepwear, loungewear, and active wear.
Polyester: Durable, wrinkle-resistant, and moisture-wicking polyester possesses many great properties. Its moisture-wicking properties are amazing for outerwear but can often be an uncomfortable choice for underwear. Polyester is not know for its breathability and that combined with its water-repelling nature will leave you hot and sweaty in cheap polyester clothing. There have been wonderful strides made in polyester fabrics and in polyester blends that make them more comfortable and versatile, so makes sure to check that you are getting the right piece for your needs.