cotton on fabric breathable

The Science Behind Breathable Fabrics

When it comes to comfortable clothing, the fabric it's made of is arguably the most important factor to consider. Breathability is key, and certain fabrics are naturally better at it than others.
Is a Polo Shirt Business Casual? Reading The Science Behind Breathable Fabrics 5 minutes

When it comes to comfortable clothing, the fabric it's made of is arguably the most important factor to consider. Sure, a well-fitting shirt makes a great impression, but if sweat stains are stealing the show, a great fit can only get you so far. Breathability is key, and certain fabrics are naturally better at it than others. Knowing the difference can save you from unnecessary embarrassment caused by unsightly sweat and visible discomfort.

Want our advice? Get to know your fabrics–which ones to invest in, which to avoid at all costs, and why. Let’s start with the basics of breathable fabrics.

Breathability 101: Natural vs. Synthetic Fabrics

Fabric breathability comes down to the fabrics used, of which there are two categories: natural and synthetic.

Natural Fabrics

Natural fibers are sourced from plants and animals. Plant-based fabrics, like cotton, linen, and bamboo, are the most breathable fabrics, making them ideal for clothing and bedding. Animal-based fabrics like silk and wool are also breathable, and all of the above allow for easy air circulation, wick away perspiration, and to help keep the body cool. This means less opportunity for trapped sweat and overheating. When crafted using a loose weave, natural fabrics are even more effective at maintaining a comfortable body temperature.

Aside from built-in breathability, natural fabrics are also eco-friendly, absorbent, hypo-allergenic, and biodegradable, making them a better option for people and the planet.

Synthetic Fabrics

If you find yourself battling pools of sweat on a regular basis, chances are your clothing is made from synthetic fabrics. Unlike natural fibers, these synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and acrylics, are produced by man using petrochemical derivatives from oil, coal, and natural gas–a cost-effective manufacturing option compared to their plant and animal-based counterparts (whether that savings gets passed on to you, well, that’s a discussion for another time).

While certain synthetic fabrics have their advantages, breathability isn’t one of them. Take polyester, for example. This popular clothing fabric is actually made of plastic and offers zero breathability. Essentially, you’re wearing a plastic bag shaped like a shirt. What guy wants that?

Certain synthetic fabrics are often marketed as breathable clothing, but that’s only because they are manufactured with chemical treatments and construction methods designed to emulate breathability by pulling moisture away from the body. This can be accomplished by using synthetic yarns that mimic a cooling effect and constructing the synthetic fabrics with tiny holes that allow the garment to “breathe better.”

Now, we’re not totally knocking synthetics–they do serve a purpose for certain items, like rain jackets, certain athletic apparel, and other outdoor gear. But when it comes down to the science of which fabrics make the best, most breathable clothes for everyday work and play, it pays to stay as au naturel as possible.

What is the Most Breathable Fabric for Shirts?

So we know that natural fabrics are the most breathable fabrics for general wear. But which natural fabric reigns supreme for everyday wear? Cotton does! 

Cotton’s naturally absorbent properties effortlessly wick away moisture, isn’t clingy, and won’t hold on to odors. This natural, breathable fabric is also 100% biodegradable, making it a sustainable fabric choice you can cozy up to. Moreover, cotton is a breathable fabric that comes in various styles, including super soft and lightweight materials like mélange cotton–otherwise known as the NICESTUFF breathable fabric of choice.

NICESTUFF: The Best Breathable Clothing For Every Day

Unlike traditional, tightly woven plain weave fabric dress shirts, NICESTUFF natural performance menswear, from our long and short sleeve button downs and polo shirts, are intentionally designed for optimal comfort and airflow. We use ultra-fine, super soft, and incredibly breathable mélange knit cotton crafted with a unique pique construction to create open pockets in the knitting so air can flow and sweat can escape. 

Though our breathable shirts look like dress shirts, they feel like your favorite cotton tee. Plus, our breathable cotton shirts are naturally wrinkle-resistant, and thanks to the quality of our long staple mélange yarn and unique knitting structure, our shirts don't lose their shape. Add to this the pucker-resistant collar stays and the flattering multi-stretch slim fit, and you, my friend, have found the breathable shirt of your dreams.

Breathe Easy with NICESTUFF Cotton Dress Shirts

Whether you’re out running errands, getting in a quick nine, headed away on vacation, or you’re just trying to beat the heat at home, you deserve breathable shirts that’ll keep you cool. With NICESTUFF breathable shirts in your closet, dressing for success and optimal comfort in any setting is a no-brainer.

Shop NICESTUFF dress clothes for men today to experience the difference naturally breathable fabrics can make in your overall comfort. 

Want more menswear tips and inspiration? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@nicestuffclothing), or check out the NICESTUFF Journal for the latest men’s fashion, like our 5 Quick Summer BBQ Outfit Tips for Men with Style, 3 Reasons Guys Who Workout Love NICESTUFF, and more.

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