What Is Rayon? Here's What You Should Know

·3 min read

Rayon is one of the most versatile fabrics around, yet it remains somewhat of a mystery. That’s partly because of its remarkable ability to shape-shift—not just literally, but also in terms of imitating other fabrics. Rayon has been known to take on the properties of silk, cotton, wool, and others, and can be used in nearly any type of clothing. This can make it challenging to pin down exactly what it is, how to launder it, and what type of weather it’s best suited for. To help boost your familiarity with this ubiquitous fabric, keep reading to see everything you need to know about rayon.

What It Is

In a nutshell, rayon is a fabric made from purified cellulose fibers, which are typically created from wood pulp. Though rayon is derived from natural materials, it requires certain chemicals, so it’s considered to be a semi-synthetic fabric.

One of the most common types of rayon is viscose rayon, which has a lot in common with cotton. It’s breathable, moisture-absorbent, and a popular choice for casual and athletic wear. It also shows up in dresses, blouses, and outerwear. Secondary types of rayon include modal rayon (typically made from beech trees) and lyocell (seen in everything from denim to dress shirts).


Laundering rayon takes a little extra consideration. Rayon is often blended with other fabrics (such as polyester and cotton), so washing instructions can vary significantly. While its texture and versatility make it an ideal choice for a range of apparel, rayon isn’t a durable fabric, and standard machine washing can cause it to stretch, shrink, or bleed onto other articles of clothing. As a result, most experts recommend hand-washing rayon, but always be sure to check the care label instructions beforehand.

Now, shop our favorite rayon picks:

Reformation Fulton Dress ($248)

Reformation is a great place to shop for gorgeous pieces made of rayon.

Who What Wear Collection Sade Button-Down Collared Shirt ($125)

The perfect shirt for going back to the office (and everything else).

Vince Side Slit Slip Skirt ($295)

This color is a dream.

Free People Mimi Cardi ($78)

A lightweight cardi for your summer-to-fall looks.

Treasure & Bond Dobby Classic Shirt ($59)

A versatile white button-down is always a win.

& Other Stories Printed Mini Wrap Skirt ($59)

The perfect early-fall skirt, found.

Faithfull the Brand Sonja Midi Dress ($199)

This is begging to be taken on vacation.

Velvet Titania 03 Skirt ($158)

Zoom in to see how good this print is.

Zara Full Length Pants ($46)

You're going to want to wear these a lot.

Who What Wear Collection Willa Ruched Crisscross Top ($145)

We can't get over how cool this looks on.

Mango Printed Midi Skirt ($50)

Pro tip: Pair it with a chunky sweater for fall.

Open Edit Pinstripe Double Breasted Blazer ($69)

Swap your basic black blazer out for a little something different.

Staud Milla Mini Dress in House of Cards ($265)

And suddenly we need a card-print dress.

Who What Wear Collection Allyson Bustier Crop Top ($85)

This top is surprisingly versatile.

Zara Menswear Style Oversized Blazer ($90)

The fit and color are excellent.

& Other Stories Voluminous Tiered Midi Dress ($129)

Love this tiered dress with knee boots.

Mango Long-Sleeve T-Shirt With Ruffles ($50)

Perfect for all of your baggy jeans.

Good American Scoop Neck Midi Dress ($99)

A minimalist's dream.

Mango Flowy Flower Printed Dress ($80)

What's not to love about this subtly groovy print?

Open Edit Ribbed Button-Up Cardigan ($59)

It comes in chocolate brown too.

Reformation Isadora Top ($148)

One of Reformation's best tops at the moment, in our opinion.

Isabel Marant Etoile Colette Skirt ($395)

You'll probably wear this for years.

Nordstrom Wide Leg Sweater Pants ($79)

Chicer than sweatpants but just as comfortable.

Lulu's Would Be Floral Sundress ($58)

This should please all the lovers of '90s fashion out there.

Wilfred by Aritzia Lydia Top ($48)

This looks so buttery soft.

Next, see the tricks to stretching out your favorite pair of denim.

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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