Breathable Fabrics List: What is The Most Breathable Fabric?

This happens when the summer gets hot and humid or when you are on a romantic date, you want to wear those fabrics that help you keep your cool. There is no sense ruining your day or date because you begin to perspire. Knowing which fabrics help you breathe may make all the difference for you.

What is the most breathable fabric? Cotton is the number one fabric for breathing. It helps circulate the air underneath the cloth, allowing it to move freely and disperse your body heat. It is like having an air conditioner in your clothing. That is good when that attractive guy starts talking to you.

To learn about more breathable fabrics, just continue to read our article. It has the information on breathable fabrics so you know how to shop when the weather or romance turns warm. Take a few minutes and get the facts you need to create some great sewing projects

List of Breathable Fabrics (Our Ranking)

To help you see the best breathable fabrics, we created this little chart to make scanning easy. There are different facts included so you understand why they made this list.

Rank Fabric Where to wear it Benefits
1 Cotton Anywhere and in almost any season. Lets the air circulate, helps remove heat, good for humid climates as well as dry areas. hypoallergenic
2 Linen When you want to look chic or sophisticated, good for hotter seasons Absorbs sweat, dries quickly, shouldn’t cling to your body
3 Chambray Good for hotter months or those events that do not have air conditioning Acts like cotton and makes you feel and look good, has a higher thread count so it breathes well
4 Rayon For summer and when those hot days do not go away Has excellent drape, resists static, absorbs moisture, lightweight
5 Viscose For warm climates Made from different natural and breathable products like wood chips or bamboo,lightweight, durable and good looking
6 Silk All seasons as it will heat the room up when you walk in Soft. Silky and has a luxurious look but has drawbacks
7 Merino wool All seasons Soft to the touch, looks great and keeps you cool in the summer while warm in the winter
8 Micromodal A form of rayon that is good for most seasons Used for underwear as it is soft as well as durable.made from natural fibers for the breathing factor
9 Blends All seasons depending on the blended fabrics Keep their shape, good for athletic wear, durable and cheaper than other fabrics
10 Bamboo All seasons Hypoallergenic and good for people with sensitive skin. It also covers up bad odors.

What is The Most Breathable Fabric?


In every list we researched, cotton held the number 1 spot in all those lists. It is a fabric that has enduring qualities that make it popular. Breathability is just one of those qualities that makes it stand out from other fabrics.

Plus, it can be woven or knitted into different styles, like chambray, denim, and other great clothing materials so you can be stylish, fashion-forward without overheating or perspiring so much that you get embarrassed just walking into a room.

Other fabrics may come in a close second or third but it is very hard to top cotton. The surprise fabric on the best breathing list is wool It is normally seen as a winter fabric to keep you warm. But some finer woven wools, like merino, can let you wear this fabric in the heat of the summer and not lose you cool.

You may try some of the other finely woven wools out there to see if they can do the same thing as merino wool does. Just be wary of the cost of those fabrics. Then your experience may be different and your list order may not be the same as ours.

That is okay as everyone has their own preference and like those fabrics better.

What Does Breathable Fabric Mean?

If you want the technical explanation then here it is. The breathable factor is called the moisture vapor transmission rate or MVTR. What this calculation does is measure the rate of moisture passing through the fabric at a given time.

Yes, they have tools to measure this rate and people who do the measuring. What that means is breathability is determined y the speed of moisture and heat going through the fabric and out into the air.

The equation looks like this-- g/m²/day and translates into mass moving through a square meter of fabric every 24 hours. Another name for this is the water vapor transmission rate. Believe it or not, many industries use this formula as it is critical to their products and the marketability of those products.

The fashion industry is very much included here. Fashion designers and manufacturers need to know this rate to make their materials and clothing more comfortable for their customers.

This formula also helps people decide which fabric is more breathable than others which enhances their marketing techniques and influences their sales strategies. All you need to know is which fabric is better at breathing so you can avoid the ones that do not meet your standards.

Do Some Fabrics Make You Sweat More?


The key to this issue is how close to your skin does the fabric come. The closer to your skin the less ability the fabric has to breathe. This means that while denim is soft, comfortable, and can stretch, it also makes you sweat more as it lies very close to your skin.

The same goes for nylon, spandex, and some polyester outfits. The closer to your skin, the more heat the fabric retains and the hotter you get. Someone once said that rayon is the most misunderstood fabric around.

That may be true as we see this material on lists that say it is great for summer, it absorbs moisture and breathes well. Then it is found on other lists that say the exact opposite of that. So rayon may make you sweat more and it may not. Usually, the weave of the fabric will play a large role in how people view that material.

Any synthetic and natural fiber blend should make you sweat more, like cotton and spandex. The spandex brings the clothing closer to your body nullifying cotton’s great breathability.

In all watch the types of blend and synthetic materials you are wearing. Synthetic fabrics are notorious for making you sweat more while natural fibers keep you cooler.

Fabrics That Don't Make You Sweat

Cotton would be the top of that list and again, everything said in these sections will depend on the type of weave or knit used, how thick the material is, and so on. Some cotton material may make you sweat more than others.

Next up would be linen, which is a great fabric when the area is known for being very humid. A cotton and linen blend is ideal to avoid sweating when the temperature starts to rise.

Then you can go to fabrics made from bamboo. Very hard to sweat in a nice shirt or T-shirt made from this material. On top of that protection, you get good UV protection as well as no real foul odor emitting from your clothing or body.

Chambray is a good alternative and it still keeps you looking good when you do not want to get into a heavier oxford style dress shirt. Then the misunderstood fabric, rayon, is light, airy, and does not cling to your body. That helps keep you cool and lets the rayon material disperse the heat fast.

Honorable mentions are seersucker cotton and sweat wick tech material that is made from certain polyester fibers that remove moisture.

Fabrics That Keep You Cool


It is possible that you are getting tired of seeing the name cotton at the top of each list but that is a great fabric that is tops in many categories. That fact is one reason it is one of the most popular fabrics to wear or use in sewing projects.

There are enough varieties of this material to allow you to wear different cotton styles and remain nice and cool all day long. Next, is silk which is good if your outing does not include a lot of heat.

This material is light and not bulky so you can move gracefully and stay cool at the same time. Linen is also at the top of this list as it works great in humid climates. Its porous weave allows heat to leave your body and lets the cooler air enter.

Then you can go to other natural fabrics like certain wools and even rayon if you want to stay cooler. Bamboo is also a god material to wear when you know you will be hotter than usual.

The key is to look for natural fibers as synthetic ones are not that great for breathing or letting the heat escape. They were made for other reasons instead of a cooling factor.

What Material Does Not Show Sweat?

This is a hard topic to deal with because different people sweat at different rates. Those who sweat in above average amounts may find that no fabric protects them from sweat stains or the fact they sweat more than usual.

Plus, the more layers you pile on to hide the sweat, the more you will perspire. Sometimes wearing certain fabrics is a catch 22 situation and you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.

With that said, spandex is a moisture-wicking material that is said not to show sweat. But it does not top cotton and linen in this department. Those last two fabrics are great at keeping sweat stains from view. Especially if you wear darker colors.

Also, you can try a good jersey fabric. This is said to be able to hide any sweat stains. It might be easier to list those fabrics to avoid as they do not hide any sweat stains at all. Silk is at the top of this list as are lighter colored cotton and linens.

Denim is not good at hiding anything, especially those skin-tight options that give the illusion that the wearer was poured into the fabric. Finally, avoid polyester as that is not a breathable fabric and it does not do a good job of keeping sweat stains out of the public eye.

Are There Fabrics That Tend To Make Odors Worse?


This is a topic everyone is concerned about especially if they have to deal with the public on an hourly basis at work. Or if they are getting ready to go out on a hot date when the evening is hotter than noontime.

One fabric that is said to make body odor worse is cotton. That is because it takes a long time to dry. The odor does not go away once it has dried. But other natural fibers like linen, wool, and hemp seem to disperse that odor and keep you smelling nice and fresh.

Then synthetic fabrics may be worse than cotton as they do not breathe that much at all, unless in a good blend, and trap odors and moisture next to your skin. This element means that polyester and other man-made materials will produce more body odor than natural fabrics, including cotton.

To avoid this problem with synthetic materials, look for those clothing items that have silver added to them. Silver seems to block odors from accumulating. There are other additives to look for that do the same job as silver does.

Volcanic ash is one such silver alternative and it is said to do a very good job blocking foul body odors from reaching everyone’s noses. To avoid body odors from ruining your day don’t wear certain kinds of cotton and synthetic materials.

What To Look For in Breathable Materials

Or in other words how to pick these fabrics out from the crowd of fabrics that claim to be breathable. Here are some guidelines to help your search and find the most breathable fabrics on sale now.

1. Fabric construction- the tighter the weave or knit the less breathable it is. You want to look for loose weaves and knits to make sure the heat and air have escape routes. Also, you do not want thicker materials as those also block heat from escaping.

2. Fabric weight- This plays a role in breathing as the heavier the fabric the thicker it is. The more weight the less opportunity the heat and moisture have to escape. It remains trapped next to your body and helps make you feel uncomfortable. The more light you see come through the fabric the more breathable it is.

3. Moisture management- lightweight materials are good for this as it helps keep your body nice and cool. If you produce less heat, the less moisture or odor you will produce. Also, moisture-wicking material will be a great aid here as those tend to remove moisture before it becomes a problem.

4. Fit- the looser the fit the better the material will breathe. If you are going out on a date and the air is not very cool, avoid wearing skin-tight clothing. Opt for the looser materials to stay cool. This may not flatter your body as much but at least you can concentrate on your date and what he or she is saying.

5. Mesh panels- These help let the heat and moisture escape. The more cool air that gets through to your body the less moisture and heat you will create. That keeps you cooler under difficult circumstances and lets you be yourself, full of confidence.

6. Air vents- If the clothing item has discreet and good air vents then the effect is the same as the mesh panels. You stay cooler because your body heat goes away faster. Keep them tasteful so you look and feel good.

Breathable Fabric Recommendations


In some parts of the world, summer is fast approaching while in other parts, people are putting aside their summer clothing and going for more winter type clothing items. But summer will return and here are some nice fabrics to wear during the summer in your part of the world.

1. Cotton- it is the go-to fabric when you want to look your best and stay cool. Cotton has so many positive qualities it was once advertised as ‘the fabric of your life’. It can be worn to formal occasions, semi-formal, casual, and when you go to bed at night. Its versatility is second to none.

Plus, cotton comes in some great colors and is easy to dye to the ones you like the most but can’t find.

2. Linen- a close competitor to cotton as it too has some great properties that make it ideal in hot and humid weather. Made from flax, this is an ancient fabric that helps people stay cool when the temperatures get too hot.

It has maximum breathing qualities and is really good when turned into pants. Like cotton, it can be dyed in a variety of ways and many different colors.

3. Silk Georgette- When you want to look like those movie stars of old, this is the fabric to do that with. Not only does it make you look good, but it also pairs up with a lot of different common fabrics and makes them look even better.

On top of that, this is a lightweight material that helps you stay cool. It is also great when you want to stay home and relax. It helps keep you cool when the air conditioner is not working that well.

4. Chambray- When you want to wear denim but do not want to be embarrassed by the lack of breathing on that fabrics’ part. This is a soft, lightweight alternative that not only have you looking good but feeling dry and comfortable.

Its higher thread count makes it softer and smoother against your skin. Then that thread count makes the weave finer so the material breathes well, even on those hot days where you think you can find no relief from the high humidity and temperatures.

5. Rayon- the most misunderstood fabric known to man or at least that is what it seems like. You ask 5 different people about what they think of rayon for the summer and you may get 6 different opinions.

But, this fabric should not cling, should not create static electricity, and is lightweight enough to let heat and moisture evaporate into the air quickly. It is up to you if you wear this fabric and do not be surprised if someone doesn’t approve. It is not everyone’s cup of tea.

6. Merino wool- its fine weave helps you stay cooler even in summer because heat and moisture have someplace to go. It is a great fabric that is very versatile and makes sure you have all the eyes in the room looking in your direction.

Soft, comfortable, and breathes well so you can go about your business with confidence. Sometimes winter wear is perfect for summer events, especially when you are out on the beach watching the sun go down. More about fabrics for hot weather here.

Some Final Words

When it comes to breathable fabrics, you have a lot to choose from. Not only do these materials keep you cool, but they also come in a variety of styles, weaves, and, best of all, colors. You can mix and match to your hearts’ content and still remain nice and cool.

Then don’t be bashful and avoid different bends. Some top options help keep you cool because they breathe so well. Take your time when selecting what to wear in the summer you have lots of options.

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