9 Fabrics To Avoid If You Sweat A Lot, From Viscose To Silk

Cotton is your best friend.

by Rika Nurrohmah
Originally Published: 
Viscose fabric, silk, nylon: here are 9 sweat-resistant fabrics to avoid if you sweat a lot.

When the temperatures heat up, it’s natural to sweat. And if you sweat more easily — and profusely — than others, you’re not alone. 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 can be inconvenient to say the least.

While you may think excessive sweat is something you can’t avoid, there are ways to work around it, starting with your wardrobe. And it’s not just a matter of opting for a tank top silhouette instead of a long-sleeve top, or short shorts instead of longer-flowing pieces. In fact, you don’t even have to completely change your style just because of a little perspiration.

The key is to be intentional about choosing fabrics. So, still wear your favorite mini dress, but choose a fabric like cotton instead of viscose, nylon, and leather. It may even be time to part with your favorite pieces of denim, opting for breezy linen instead.

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.

Below, here are 9 fabrics that you're best off avoiding, from viscose fabric to leather.

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Viscose, Rayon

Though it’s a popular textile, you may still be asking yourself ‘what is viscose fabric’? Viscose, more commonly known in the U.S. as Rayon, is a man-made fiber created from cellulose chemically extracted from trees. Viscose fabric is a bit weaker in strength than cotton, and thus it is often used to make delicate, lighter clothing. Although light and breezy, this synthetic fiber 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 against 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.

Polyester/Polyester Blend

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," says 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.

Light-Colored Fabrics

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 just as effective at hiding sweat stains.

It's the in-betweens — the light colors — that are bad 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.


Though it’s a beloved wardrobe staple, denim isn’t always the best fabric to grab when the weather is sweltering. As much as you love your skinny jeans or vintage denim trousers, the cotton knit is decidedly heavy and doesn’t allow for a ton of air flow between fibers. Denim was constructed to be one of the more durable materials on the market, but what results is a heavy weave that is certainly the opposite of breathable. It’s OK to pack away your jean shorts and skirts until the Fall season arrives.


It may go without saying that spandex is a no go if you don’t want to sweat. But beware of spandex cotton blends as well. The hybrid fabric is popular for fitted dresses and stretchy jeans, and the stretch it delivers is unparalleled. At the same time, a spandex cotton blend makes for a heavier weight material, sacrificing the thin breathable weave in favor of stretch.


There’s a reason why people avoid leather in the summertime. Yes, even that cute mini skirt that you pair with a breathable camisole for a night out on a town. Leather offers zero breathability at all and it can make you feel as though you’re sticking to your clothing the minute you start to sweat. Remember that scene from Friends, where Ross wears a pair of leather pants on a date and is drenching in perspiration? You should probably avoid that at all costs.


Though acrylic is marketed as being moisture-wicking, all bets go out the window when you consider the fact that it’s one of the least breathable weaves on the market. A synthetic blend of fibers, acrylic fabric is quite hot — and often itchy — against the skin, so while it might wick away any sweat you spill, it will likely be the reason your body is drenched in the first place.

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