Sweaty people of the world, it is, once again, time to unite, on our quest for the best fabrics for sweating. In most parts of the country, we are leaving behind the warm breezes of springtime for the hellish temperatures of the American summer and, if you're really lucky, smothering humidity. Truly, for those of us with overactive sweat glands, this only means one thing — embarrassing amounts of salt water exiting through our pores at all times.
However, excessive perspiration and awkwardly positioned sweat marks can be combatted if we curate our summer wardrobes wisely, focusing on warm weather friendly fabrics and leaving any and all sweat inducing materials behind.
Sure, everybody sweats, but not everybody has to like it and when the heat index rises, it can feel like clothing that is not a bathing suit and is comfortable does not exist. An event as simple as a summertime BBQ can quickly make the turn into perspiration station and I have yet to meet anyone who has been super stoked about mingling with visible under-boob sweat. Don't even get me started on trying to sit down and stand back up — the swamp ass struggle is real.
Yet, it is actually possible to enjoy the summer months in all their outdoor activity glory, even as a sweaty person. We must stand in solidarity and choose our wardrobes wisely! In the spirit of increased temperatures, but decreased excessive public sweating, let's break down the do's and don'ts of summertime fabric and avoid the stress of warm weather dressing.
Cotton Versus Polyester
As all sweaty girls know, there is no such thing as glowing, especially when you are straight up sweating in a garment that has no breathability. To avoid trapping your perspiration and intensifying the issue, opt for clothing that is made of a lightweight cotton fabric, whether it's a dress or top. It really is the fabric of our (sweaty girl) lives.
DO: Wear cotton whenever possible. A good quality, lightweight cotton is one of the most breathable fabrics around so it will allow a little airflow for drying out the dampness. Also, cotton is a natural fiber, so it absorbs moisture, rather than repelling it. Just try to steer clear of bold colors if you don't want the underarms of your bright pink shirt absorbing your pit sweat for all the world to see.
DON'T: Choose clothes with a polyester base fabric. While it is one of the most commonly used manmade fabrics thanks to its durability, in the summertime, durability equals water resistant, which means zero absorption of perspiration. Lots of sweat with nowhere to go could cause irritation and overall discomfort.
Linen Versus Rayon
Amen, Charlotte. Amen. If you want to avoid sweating like a Louisiana princess wearing a ball gown in the dead of a Southern summer, be sure to, once again, focus on natural fibers instead of synthetic ones, even those that are commonly said to keep you cool.
DO: Choose pants, dresses and shorts in a lightweight linen. Like our other fabric friend cotton, linen is created from natural fibers so it is super absorbent with a fast drying time — perfect for when your clothes do come in contact with your sweaty self. Also, it tends to be relaxed, so it won't cling to your body. Linen does often get a bad rep for its tendency to easily wrinkle, so if this is a concern, choose a linen blend for both excellent absorption and anti-wrinkle.
DON'T: Be tricked into wearing rayon. Rayon is widely marketed as an easy-breezy fabric that will keep you cool when the temperatures rise. While this fabric won't trap the heat and is usually lightweight, it is not a persistently sweaty person's friend. Because it is made out of synthetic fibers, just like polyester, it too repels rather than absorbs water, which — in the realest terms — means your sweat will be pooling up in all the wrong places.
Chambray Versus Denim
If I even think about wearing denim outside in the summer months, I immediately break out into a preemptive, nervous sweat like poor Linus when he's talking to Sally. I get it — jeans are an easy go-to that are hard to give up, but rather than suffer in heavyweight denim, make chambray your summer staple.
DO: Opt for chambray over denim. Chambray is having a bit of a moment so it is fairly easy to find shorts, shirts, rompers, and jumpers made out of this denim alternative. A lightweight chambray is flowy and breathable and won't be too constricting in the heat, unlike those Levi's. And if you choose a darker shade with a natural finish, it will expertly absorb a majority of your sweat without leaving a visible mark.
DON'T: Decide to brave the heat and wear your favorite skinny jeans. Denim is a durable, heavyweight fabric without a lot of give and it is both constricting and the opposite of breathable. Wearing denim outside in the summer is a sure-fire recipe for butt sweat, which is unpleasant in and of itself and will also lead to chaffing when combined with, you guessed it, fabrics like denim.
Moisture Wicking Fabrics Versus Cotton/Spandex Blends
Sure, it would be totally amazing if we could just decide that we weren't going to sweat, but since that isn't a thing that's possible, we will have to choose moisture wicking fabrics for working out and, well, any other possible activity.
DO: Choose stretch fabrics with moisture wicking properties. Yes, it is true- most of these blends are polyester based, but fabrics that have magical moisture wicking powers are woven in a way that allows them to be more permeable — AKA they make your sweat disappear. It's a beautiful thing. When shopping for clothing that is stretchy and tight fitting — mainly workout wear, leggings, tops, and tees — make sure you are taking home a poly blend that boasts moisture wicking weaves.
DON'T: Choose cotton/spandex. If you choose a cotton/spandex legging, you will be sitting in your own sweat, which I understand is gross, but very true. I know cotton was previously said to be king when it came to breathability, but that rule goes out the window when it is combined with spandex — this blend tends to be a heavier weight cotton and when combined with lycra, spandex, and/or your sweat, it basically suffocates your skin. Your favorite cotton leggings may be OK during cooler months, but in the summer, opt for a pair infused with the aforementioned technology.
Happy summering my sweaty friends — here's to staying dry!
Source: K.Patton, 2015, Bustle, 11 June: http://www.bustle.com/articles/89224-the-best-and-worst-fabrics-for-sweaty-people-because-everybody-sweats-but-we-dont-have-to