Ah… spring! Sunshine, warm breezes, and outdoor activities are coming our way. At Lands' End, we have you covered for all of it. Let’s look at the best fabrics to keep you comfy and stylish this spring.
One of the keys to staying comfy as the weather warms up is the breathability of fabrics. Fabric is breathable if air can flow easily through it to speed up the evaporation of perspiration. Natural fabrics are more breathable than synthetics. More loosely woven fabrics are more breathable than tightly woven fabrics. For example, women’s jeans are made from denim which is a tightly woven fabric—not one you would want to wear on the hottest of days. A key to breathability is to wear a garment a bit loosely. You want it to fit, but there should be a little room for air circulation between your skin and the fabric.
Wicking is the ability of a fabric to move moisture away from the skin instead of being absorbed into the fabric. Wools and some synthetics (including high-tech fabrics) are good at wicking. To promote wicking, a garment should be worn right next to the skin. A pair of socks or athleticwear that hugs your body are good examples of this.
Cotton is one of the most comfortable fabrics for spring because of its softness and breathability. It works well when worn next to the skin if you're in either a dry climate or the weather, is mild. Because it soaks up moisture as opposed to wicking it away, cotton is not best for sweaty workouts.
When considering cotton for spring, don’t forget cotton flannel! A flannel shirt can be a great transition garment if the weather is warmer, but not quite yet “warm." For staying cozy on spring nights, flannel pajamas remain a great choice.
Linen is another natural fabric that's comfortable and looks great, too. Made from flax, the loose weave of linen promotes great breathability, making it a favorite choice for both spring and summer. If you want to look put together on a warm spring day, a women’s linen shirt will keep you cool and looking sophisticated. The only real downside to linen is that it wrinkles.
Silk is also wonderfully breathable and a lovely choice for spring. Pair a silk blouse in a neutral color or pastel with dress pants or a pencil skirt for an instant spring outfit. Silk is lightweight which makes it natural for spring. It also drapes well giving it a natural elegance. The main downside to silk is that it will show moisture easily, including perspiration. We often think of wool as a winter fabric, but lightweight merino wool can be great for spring. It will give you a bit more warmth than other options while having the advantage of being one of the best fabrics at wicking away moisture. Wool and silk can also be combined to create beautiful suit fabric.
Sometimes called “synthetic silk," rayon is the term for any fabric made from cellulose fibers found in wood pulp. It drapes well, feels silky to the touch, and dries quickly. Its downsides are that it doesn’t wick well, and it requires dry-cleaning. It's best for dry climates. Nylon is a synthetic fabric made from petrochemicals. It wicks moisture well, dries quickly, and can even be breathable (depending on how tightly it's woven). Polyester is another synthetic fabric. It's known for its durability, wrinkle resistance, and non-absorbent wicking qualities. Polyester is a great fabric for workout clothes.
The best fabrics for spring depend upon your plans, the humidity, and the temperature range.
Do you want casual breathability? Cotton is a great candidate. Do you want a breathable fabric, but one that's a bit dressier? Linen or silk is probably your answer. A bit more warmth? Try merino wool. For workout clothes, your best bets are the wicking fabrics worn next to the skin.
In a dry climate, you need less wicking from your fabric because perspiration “works”—it cools you off and then evaporates. In a humid climate, you will want more wicking to keep you comfy instead of clammy.
Unless you live in a perfectly predictable climate (certainly not the Midwest!) layering is a great option for spring. For a casual layering option, consider a women’s fleece jacket to keep you cozy on those chilly mornings, blustery afternoons, and cooler evenings. A cotton cardigan can do the trick if you're looking for something a bit more business casual or a pretty option to wear with a dress or skirt and blouse.
The more you know about different fabrics, the easier it becomes to stay both comfy and stylish this spring.