Breathable clothes a must in summer heat

Breathable clothes a must in summer heat

Q. I am looking for clothing that is more “breathable” in the hot weather. Yesterday I went to the garden shop at Home Depot, and I was sweating just carrying the soil to my car. I went to the bank afterwards and didn’t feel presentable. What do you suggest?

A.  There are several ways to be more comfortable in summer’s heat. When you’re choosing a versatile warm weather wardrobe, the wrong choices may lead to visible sweat stains, to being uncomfortably warm, and to retained odors. Warm casual wear should include pants, shorts, and tops that are lightweight, loosely woven, and not snug-fitting; Knits, from Tees to polos, as well as fine woven dress shirts and trousers, work well. Look for clothes with breathability, moisture-wicking, and loose-fitting properties. Loose-fitting clothes made from light natural fibers increase your comfort during hot days by promoting better airflow around your body compared to tight-fitting clothing.

It pays big dividends to shift to lighter clothes made of breathable fabrics at this time of year. For men’s summer styles, consider linen, seersucker, light merino wool, and breathable cotton. Forget heavy wools, tweeds, and thicker cottons. It helps to know something about what makes a fabric “breathable.” In general, thinner materials and looser weaves are more breathable than tight ones. They allow air to circulate freely, and help to maintain a cool feeling against the skin. For a quick, nonscientific test, hold a fabric up and see how much light passes through it – more light suggests more breathability. Moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials take advantage of the body’s natural cooling mechanism to evaporate moisture away from the skin.

Beyond the natural fabrics, some, but certainly not all, synthetics can help keep you cool. Certain well-chosen special materials like rayon, bamboo, and Tencel can wick away sweat while ensuring you feel fresh throughout the day.  

  1. Rayon is a great choice for summer clothing with its quick-drying and absorbent properties. Like cotton, it lets air circulate close to your body, making it one of the most breathable fabrics appropriate for hot weather.
  2. Tencel fabric is a highly breathable material that does not trap heat. First developed in 1972, Tencel uses wick-away technology that takes moisture away from your body.
  3. Nike’s Dri-Fit cloth, a special moisture-wicking polyester blend designed to help you stay dry, brings a high level of comfort.
  4. Orvis sells shirts in a handsome mix of hemp and Tencel. They have the quality look and feel of linen without linen’s usual wrinkling. 

Synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon might seem convenient because they don’t need ironing, but they’re not your friends during a heatwave. They trap heat close to your body, making it hard for your skin to breathe. Avoid them. While popular for its durability, polyester is notorious for locking in sweat and bacteria which can lead to discomfort. Nylon goes a step further by also holding onto odors. (If you must wear any of these, make sure not to forget to use deodorant.)

Note: When you discover something new that you like, buy one. Wear it to see if you want more.

Here’s another element to consider. Even though an undershirt adds another layer, many men find that wearing one helps wick away moisture and prevents your shirt from holding onto sweat. 

Taking these precautions will help you soak up the fun when you are outdoors this summer. 

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