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Our warm-weather fabric glossary

Our warm-weather fabric glossary

The nights are longer, the mornings are brighter, and quite frankly, the time to embrace sandals and sunglasses couldn’t have come sooner. There’s something about boxing up our winter coats and dusting off warm-weather favourites that feels like something of a ceremony to ring in the start of summer. And getting dressed when the sun is out is a no-brainer, right? 

Well, not quite. Curating your warm-weather wardrobe requires the same consideration as your hard-working winter layers, but if you’ve got the right fabrics in the mix you’ll be feeling (and looking) cool when the mercury rises. Stick with these ones, and you’ll get through the summer practically sweat patch free.

1. Cotton 

What is it

Cotton is a natural fabric made from the fibers that surround the seeds of the cotton plant. It’s one of the oldest and most commonly used fabrics for clothing.

How to wear it

“In summer you can wear cotton – and cotton derivatives like piqué and jersey – pretty much all over,” stylist Freddie Kemp says. “It’s such a versatile fabric, and it’s soft against the skin, so although it’s probably considered one of the ‘heavier’ materials for the season, it is ideal for t-shirts and other items that you wear as single layers.” 

Cotton also holds its shape better than other summer fabrics, making it ideal for adding clean lines to your look, without the crumpled effect that’s popular in other summer fabrics like seersucker and linen. 

2. Linen

What is it

Made from the fibres of the flax plant, linen is a strong, absorbent material which is valued for its coolness and freshness when worn in hot weather.

How to wear it 

“Linen is great for shirts, trousers and shorts,” Freddie says. “There’s a brilliant natural texture and flow to the fabric which looks great when paired with a more structured cotton.”

Wearing all linen can look great, but throughout the day, the fabric can start to look worn and verge on scruffy. A pair of linen trousers and a cotton t-shirt complement one another perfectly, but opt for neutral shades as linen doesn't hold colours and patterns as well as other summer fabrics.

3. Seersucker 

What is it

Seersucker, also known as railroad stripe, is a thin cotton fabric with a puckered effect. It’s woven in a way that causes the threads to bunch together and appear wrinkled, which holds the fabric away from the skin. This facilitates air circulation and heat dissipation, making it a cool choice for hot weather.

How to wear it 

“Seersucker is a fabric with so much depth and character,” Freddie says. “It’s a nice alternative to linen if you want something a little more structured, and is especially great for trousers and lightweight outerwear.” 

A seersucker overshirt, plain white cotton t-shirt, and linen trousers makes for an excellent, layered warm-weather look. “Generally seersucker is best suited for urban environments,” Freddie says. “But a pair of white and blue striped seersucker trousers with a plain, neutral-toned linen shirt is a really strong holiday vibe.”

4. Madras

What is it

Originally from the Madras region of India, madras fabric is a lightweight cotton which typically comes in a tartan design. 

How to wear it 

“The key to pulling off madras is choosing a check that’s full of character and life,” Freddie says. Stick to shirts in this material, and pair with plain, neutral shorts or trousers for an easy go-to summer look.

5. Chambray

What is it

Chambray is a natural fabric made from linen or cotton that is both fine and dense. It closely resembles denim, but the weaving pattern of chambray makes it much lighter and more breathable.

How to wear it 

“Chambray is a nice way to add a preppy feel to smarter outfits,” Freddie says. “A light blue chambray button down paired with a patterned tie and a navy or stone blazer makes for a strong wedding look.” For casual occasions, wear your chambray shirt untucked with shorts or chinos.

6. Suede

What is it

Suede is the inner surface of an animal hide. In clothing, it refers to the napped, fibrous finish on the underside of leather.

How to wear it 

Suede has natural holes, which makes it a great choice for summer footwear when sandals just don’t fit the bill. That’s why it’s the chosen fabric for desert boots, which were originally designed for – you guessed it – wearing in the desert. Plus, they come with the added bonus of bringing texture and an overall feeling of refinement to your smart casual outfits.

7. Denim

What is it

Denim is a strong fabric made from cotton using a twill weave. This creates the diagonal ribbing pattern that makes denim so sturdy and durable. 

How to wear it 

“Your summer denims should be lighter both in shade and weight,” Freddie says. “But avoid shorts, and stick to jeans and jackets. Mid-light blue jeans are must-haves as they go with pretty much anything.”

A denim jacket should be your go-to summer outerwear. It’s warm without being stuffy, and it’s never going out of style. Layer it over a plain white tee or, for a more style-led look, with a Cuban collar shirt.


Words: Ella White