We all sweat when temperatures heat up, but some of us sweat more easily — and profusely — than others. There's nothing wrong with that — in fact, sweating is good for you. It opens up pores to release toxins and regulates body temperature. But when it happens on your way to work, at a party, or on a first date, it's inconvenient and feels pretty gross.
Fortunately, your wardrobe choices can help keep your perspiration at manageable (or at least less visible) levels. Shenan Fraguadas, a New York-based technical designer who has worked with brands like Helmut Lang and Uniqlo, recommends choosing natural fibers, including cotton, pima cotton, linen and tropical wool. "[They] are generally better at soaking up moisture from the skin and allowing it to evaporate from the outer surface," says Fraguadas. And here are five fabrics you're best off avoiding:
Viscose, more commonly known in the U.S. as Rayon, is a man-made fiber created from cellulose chemically extracted from trees. It's a little weaker in strength than cotton, and thus is often used to make delicate, lighter clothing. Although light and breezy, this synthetic fiber, like all synthetic fibers, tends to be water-repellent, Fraguadas says, allowing "sweat to build up, reducing evaporation, and causing discomfort and irritation."
"Silk, although a natural fiber, tends to repel water" rather than absorbing it, says Fraguadas. "It can get unpleasantly moist." If you have ever worn a silk shirt under sweltering conditions, you may have noticed the intense rippling on the fabric — particularly in areas prone to sweat stains. When water is held agains silk, the fabric puckers and ripples, and when the silk dries, the texture becomes more rough. Silk is also great at retaining body odor. Avoid.
Perhaps the most common of the synthetic fabrics, polyester is ubiquitous in outdoor and winter wear. It's durable and boasts resistance to chemicals, mildew, abrasion, stretch, and mildew. It's also water-repellant, which means that rather than absorbing sweat, it allows perspiration to build up inside the garment. And polyester blended with natural fibers is no better. "[Natural] fibers can hide, and [even] a 40 percent blend or mix of synthetics can create wetness," warns Fraguadas.
Nylon is entirely synthetic, which puts it at the top of the list of fabrics to avoid. Nylon is commonly used in trendy workout attire and stockings, both of which can be extremely uncomfortable and leave the skin vulnerable to chaffing when you sweat. The only exception to wearing nylon in the summertime is swimwear, where its low absorbency and water resistance are central to the garment's performance.
Have you ever been to a crowded concert and didn't realize the guy in head-to-toe black was drenched in sweat until he bumped against you? Dark-colored fabrics make moisture much less visible, and bright white is actually equally effective at hiding sweat stains. It's the in-betweens, the light colors, that are bad news for those who sweat a lot. Light blues, pale greens, any shade of grey, and lighter hues of any color will show moisture right when it hits. Stock up on darks and white natural fibers for the warmer days ahead. When you're looking through summer photos, you'll be glad you did.