Posts Tagged: synthetic fabrics

Be Linen, don’t Be Polyester

“If you’re feeling hot in your clothes, check the fibre content; natural fibres like linen, silk and cotton will keep you cooler than anything that ends in -ide, -ose or -ex!”

Okay, now the weather is hot? Horribly unbearable?

Everyone wants to feel summery in summer. Looking summery is easy now, more than ever, because of all those blousy, chiffon tops in stores. Below are a few ideas for rocking the flowy top tre- oh wait, *needle scratch* right. This isn’t that type of blog. If you scroll down you will not find a list of links to clothing store websites, nor recommendations of cute garments.

Let’s say you do succumb to the appeal of the flowy top in summer idea. You’re rocking your tangerine top with a bandeau bra at a music festival. But wait, why do you feel so sweaty, and stinky? Is it making you feel *gasp* warmer?

The answer to that is, probably. Fibres made of man-made materials like spandex, acrylic or polyester are all not known for keeping you cool. They’re not able to breathe like natural materials, and so there’s no ventilation, which keeps you warmer!

Natural fibres like linen, silk and cotton will keep you much cooler than something synthetic. We’ve talked about this before but in the opposite sense. Hmm, I’m noticing a natural fibres theme here.

The next time you’re shopping, check the labels of the garments. The fabric content should be listed, the best stuff will be 100% cotton, or other natural fibre. We’ve already talked about the taxonomy of natural fibres, but the taxonomy of synthetic or semi-synthetic fibes is a bit woolier (pardon the pun). Fibres like spandex, polyester, acrylic etc. are synthetic, while fibres like nylon, viscose, or acetate are semi-synthetic, and all won’t breathe, or keep you cool too well.

Man-made fibres are also much more difficult to dye. Natural fabrics take dye better than synthetics, because the fibres are naturally porous. Dyes that are used to colour synthetic and semi-synthetic garments have to be stronger, and use more toxic, harmful chemicals. Disperse dyes are the most common methods of dyeing man made fibres, which are also the most common substance to which people develop a sensitivity.

Moreover, synthetic fabrics are not like natural materials when they break down. Cotton, linen, and other natural fibres will decompose over time in landfill, just imagine a facian tissue, which is made of the same type of substance. They’ll return to the earth much faster than a garment made from synthetics. Polyester and spandex are also made of petroleum products, which have to be extracted from the earth in destructive ways. Others like viscose, which is semi-synthetic, is from a wood pulp that has to be treated with harmful chemicals and then turned into a thin filament that makes the thread.

Linen is a luscious fibre made from flax that breathes, and can have a beautiful drape. The most common concern with linen is that it wrinkles quickly. New developments are being made with linen to transform it to a more polished fabric. Try some linen in the summer, and see how cool they make you feel, don’t worry about the wrinkling- it’s part of the look.

Take a look at this delightful short film that shows the process of turning flax to linen in France. It’s called Be Linen, from Good Ideas