The Best (and Worst) Fabrics to Wear During Summer

·3 min read

As summer approaches, it’s the perfect time to reevaluate your wardrobe and consider losing a layer. But as you refresh your look this season, there’s more to keep in mind than color trends and what denim is in this season. Which fabrics you choose to wear during the warmer summer months can have a major impact not only on your look but on your comfort level. To help you stay cool in more ways than one, here are the best (and worst) summer fabrics to guide your wardrobe this season.

The Best Summer Fabrics

1. Cotton

Famously breathable, cotton is an excellent choice for everything from blouses to cover-ups to pretty summer dresses. It’s also versatile enough to be worn for both daytime and nighttime looks.

Forever 21 Scorpions T-Shirt ($12)

Cotton Citizen Standard Tee ($46)

Vince Sleeveless Pima Cotton Dress ($225)

Cotton Citizen Milan Cropped Sweatshirt ($195)

2. Linen

Beyond being a good call for summer bedding, linen is one of the best summer fabrics to effortlessly complement your wardrobe. Pair linen pants with a crop top or tank for a rooftop party vibe.

H&M Linen-Blend Pull-On Shorts ($18)

The Reformation Maegan Linen Dress ($248)

H&M Linen T-Shirt ($17.99)

H&M Resort Shirt ($25)

Sleeper Belle Linen Dress in White ($280)

3. Chambray

If you’re in love with denim but want something more lightweight, chambray is the perfect material for you. This fabric is essentially a linen-finished gingham with a slightly mottled texture.

Caslon® Chambray Camp Shirt ($59)

Veronica Beard Jean Emmitt Dress ($328)

Maggy London Square Neck Linen & Cotton Midi Sundress ($138)

Boden Elgin Paperbag Waist Shorts ($90)

4. Seersucker

Technically a member of the cotton family, seersucker is a thin, lightly puckered fabric that’s fantastically lightweight. A mainstay of garden parties and boating attire, this material is also a great choice for summer dresses.

Shoshanna Cinched One Piece Swimsuit ($248)

Ganni Seersucker Check Shirt ($165)

Wiggy Kit Privet Tie-Front Cotton-Seersucker Mini Dress ($297)

Ganni Seersucker Check Blouse ($205)

Lisa Marie Fernandez Yasmin Seersucker-Stripe Bikini ($325)

5. Jersey

Drapey and flexible, jersey is one of the all-time best summer fabrics. In addition to breezy dresses and classic tunics, jersey is also a great choice for lightweight cover-ups and beach-ready sweaters.

Solid & Striped The Kimberly Side-Slit Ribbed-Jersey Mdi Dress ($221)

Treasure & Bond Ruched Sleeveless Jersey Dress ($49)

Madewell Whisper V-Neck Tee ($20)

Wilt Vintage Jersey Dress ($167)

H&M Ribbed Jersey Dress ($24.99)

Karen Kane Alana Button Front Maxi Dress ($138)

The Worst Summer Fabrics


As a fully synthetic material, nylon is the opposite of breathable. Because it’s designed to repel water and has a low level of absorption, clothing made from nylon tends to trap heat and sweat against the skin.


Much like nylon, acrylic is not a natural fabric. While it often shows up in summer dresses and tops, the material can often be hot and abrasive, making it one of the worst summer fabrics.


Another summer fabric that’s best avoided is polyester. This common fabric is travel-friendly and wrinkle-resistant, but it also resists moisture, making it less than ideal for hot summer weather.


The slick wet look of vinyl has its place and time, but with a synthetic profile that’s also waterproof and ideal for upholstery, it’s not exactly a great choice for summer clothing. To get your vinyl fix, opt for vinyl shoes and accessories.


It may come as little surprise that a material made to keep the body warm is a poor choice among summer fabrics. While certain variations of wool are okay (articles specifically labeled “summer wool” are a good start), fleece is actually derived from polyester, so it comes with the same issues of trapping moisture and reducing natural ventilation.

Next: 4 summer trends I'm just not in the mood for this year.

This story was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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