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The Best Fabrics to Wear in Summer

I'll be real with you guys: I am not built for heat. I'm built for layers on layers, coats, hot chocolate and skiing. Despite my every effort, I just can't get down with the blazing sun of summer. My distaste, however, doesn't manage to solve the crisis of global warming, so my wardrobe and I must adapt. Summer dressing is all about ease, comfort and ventilation. Yes, a pair of shorts will keep you a little cooler, but did you know that some pants might actually do a better job? The trick is the material, so keep an eye out for the sweat-wicking fabrics below when picking up your summer gear.

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Seersucker

The official fabric of summer.

Seersucker is a favorite of the country club set, but it wasn't always so. When it first appeared in the US (fresh from tropical British colonies) it was worn by the poor. The cotton derivative quickly changed images as preps and Southern gentlemen adopted it for its lightweight breathability. Technically, you're only meant to wear it between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but who really cares?


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Madras

Seersucker's laid-back plaid cousin.

I actually wear madras all year round, and I really don't care. If you do it right, you can layer it under sweaters in the fall and winter. It's the most comfortable of all fabrics and feels like there's almost nothing there. Traditionally, it's more of a men's fabric, but you can find some decent womenswear options out there, like this one from L.L. Bean.
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Linen

The perfect weight fabric.

Lightweight and ultra-breathable, linen's a perfect choice for summertime and has been a warm-weather go-to for ages. It does wrinkle extremely easily, however—so consider yourself warned.
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Eyelet

Because it has holes in it.

Airy, light as a feather and usually available in only the very palest shades, eyelet's the ultimate fabric for constant summer ventilation (not to mention sex appeal).
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Terrycloth

Loops on loops.

Terrycloth is more commonly used in linens and bathrobes, but sometimes designers will try it in ready-to-wear. The fabric itself is woven from thousands of small loops that are super-absorbent, so it will definitely keep you dry if the heat gets to you. It's also very breathable, so you'll be comfortable no matter what.


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Silk

The obvious choice.

Silk is a really accessible choice for warmer days. It's lightweight, breathable and easy to layer. Of course, because it's so delicate you have to be extra careful about how you wash it.
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Chambray

Denim, kind of.

Chambray is another type of cotton with a similar feel to denim. It's a really good choice for transitional months when it's not scorching hot, but getting there. Also, very appropriate for the beach.
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