As we creep towards the hottest days of the year, our outfits are often the first thing to fall apart in the heat. We often trade our duds that make us feel and look good for ones that help us keep cool. We are here to stop that trade in it's tracks! Here are some fabrics to look for as you build your wardrobe for keeping cool this summer, both in temperature, and in looks.
Cotton is a great fabric for keeping cool in the summer and is easy to find in many forms. A fiber that is made from the cotton blossom, this fabric holds up well to use and abuse. The day dresses of the 40's, 50's and 60's are often made of cotton and have great cuts allowing for lots of airflow. While some of these garments will be strapless, or have skinny straps, even those with sleeves will help you keep cool, with many cotton fabrics showing minimal sweat staining. We recommend very light or dark colors, or patterned fabrics to disguise those marks. Most cotton garments, even vintage ones can be washed in your washing machine, making them easy to clean after your day in the sun.
Linen is a similarly good choice for summer wardrobes. Light and easy to pack for vacations, it was a popular choice for many of the "nicer" day clothes of the past just as it is today. Linen is produced from the flax plant, making it very strong with thicker fibers than cotton. Because of this linen fabric can have a lower thread count than cotton fabric, allowing for good airflow even if the cut of the garment doesn't. Linen has been a popular material for pants, blouses and dresses for a long time. It has more than a 30,000 year history of keeping people cool, making it one of the oldest known materials for fabric making. The wonderful thing about vintage linen is that it is just as easy to launder as cotton, and the more you wash your garment, the softer the fabric will get.
Silk is another fabulous choice for summer wear. Perfect for those outdoor summer weddings, silk always has a gorgeous shine and flow to it, giving garments lots of movement. Records show silk production go all the way back to 3600 BC in China, where the first silkworm farms were producing fabrics woven for the garments and decorations of the royal family. The fabric was a prized treasure of the ancient world, valued for it's strength, beauty, and ability to keep your temperature level through heat and cool. Silk is a little harder to wash and care for than some other fabrics, most requiring dry cleaning, but some may be gently hand washed and hung to dry. Silk is not as absorbent as cotton or linen, but does have some natural moisture wicking properties which will help sweat evaporate from the skin to keep you cooler. We love a nice silk slip as a summer dress, and a silk kimono is a gorgeous way to keep cool on the way to and from the pool.
Vintage fabrics and fashions are a great way to keep comfortable all summer long. After all, it wasn't until the 1970's that AC became common in most homes! The cuts and designs of many of these vintage garments were important for the health and comfort of their original wearers, and they can do the same for you too!