silk vs linen shirts for hot weather, which is better

Silk vs linen shirts for hot weather, which is better

During hot humid weathers, I reach for my silks and linens without hesitation. Polyester is known to be unbreathable, uncomfortable in hot humid weathers. The few times I pull on a polyester top, I may love how it looks in the mirror – but it’s instant regret once I step out into the hot humid sunny weather. It is clear that polyester is not a good choice for hot weather

Both silk and linen are said to be the best options for hot humid weathers. I think they are definitely better than most materials.

Although, which is actually better, silk or linen, both looks good but is there one that is superior in terms of comfort and practicality? Here are some pointers that may help you choose better.

What are breathable fabrics for hot weather

Silk, cotton and linen are all breathable fabrics that we reach for in summer. Depending on the style and look you are going for, they have their own benefits and disadvantages. Here’s my thoughts on the three;

Silk VS Cotton VS Linen in summer:

Silk: easily the most expensive, looks dressed up effortlessly, a lot more delicate and snags the easiest.

Cotton: generally, the cheapest, easily the hardiest of the three, but tends to look the most casual.

Linen: sits nicely in the middle, both in terms of price point and fabric durability.

Today we will compare silk and linen, read on to find out which is better for hot weather

silk vs linen shirts for hot weather, which is better italy
If we were in Italy, exploring Cinque Terre, would you wear silk or cotton?

What is the best fabric for hot weather

The best fabric is what you feel most comfortable in that is suited for the activity you are doing. Silk may look good, but if you are going to be chasing after a toddler that waving wet paintbrushes, you may want to consider linen instead. It is much easier to wash linen than silk.

Are linen shirts good for hot weather?

Linen is ideal for hot weather as allows for more airflow which keeps your body cool. It is a loosely woven natural fibre which allows for quick moisture absorption and evaporation, making linen a breathable fabric.

Linen is a choice fabric for men, as well as few men wear silk shirts, my husband has his linen shirts on heavy rotation during the summers. He tends to perspire a lot and linen shirts dries quickly, keeping him cool while looking dressed up.

Funfact! Linen can absorb up to 1/5 of its body weight before it feels damp or wet!

Advantages of wearing linen in hot weather

Linen is breathable, comfortable, looks dressed up, softens with each wash and is amazingly hardy. For a fabric that softens with each wash, linen is still more durable than cotton.

Case in point, my husband has a linen shirt (pictured left) that more than a decade old – not a single hole it in! The colour has faded of course, which is expected. But it is worth mentioning that cotton shirts generally do not last a decade long.

silk vs linen shirts for hot weather which is better
Linen shirt on the Left is 13 years old, Right’s 3 years old. Look how well it has held up over time!

Disadvantages of wearing linen in hot weather

Linen crumples and crinkles, which is characteristic of pure linen. If the wrinkles and lines bothers you, then perhaps opt for a linen blend.

BUT if you are patient, remember, pure linen softens with each wash. So, over time your linen garment’s creases will soften up and look more flattering.

On another note, linen is breathable and does not retain heat, that’s great outdoors but not so good in an airconditioned environment. Unless, you’re like me ‘the cold never bothered me anyway!’. Otherwise, remember to bring a jacket if you are going to be stepping into air conditioned environments while wearing linen on a hot day!

Are silk shirts good for hot weather?

Silk is lightweight and does not stick to the body, keeping you cool. The softness of silk and it’s temperature regulating properties are another plus. I’m a big fan of silk and have an entire post dedicated to sericulture, the process of how silk is made. [link]

A dressed up outdoor event, no matter how humid, it will be silk for me, it’ll keep me cool and chic. The potential sweat stains are a small trade off.

Is silk suitable for hot humid weather?

Silk and humidity does not go very well together as silk garments are prone to sweat stains. If you perspire a lot, be prepared to treat perspiration stains on silk [link].

But before you write off silk in hot humid weather all together, let me explain why and how you can get away with wearing silk in hot humid weathers.

silk vs linen shirts for hot weather, which is better
My classic silk shirt that has gone through multiple hand washing [link] due to sweat stain removals [link], food and makeup stain removals [link].

Can I wear silk in hot humid weathers

A loose silk garment keeps you cooler in hot humid weathers and is less prone to perspiration stains. After all, it cannot stain if barely touches your skin. However if you sweat a lot or if you have to wear a fitted silk piece on hot humid days; I would suggest wearing armpit patches to prevent sweat stains on your silk garments.

Are silk shirts good for summer?

A loose breezy silk shirt is good for summers if you want to look polished. It’s a great option if you want to wear a shirt but want to keep cool at the same time.

Which fabric stays cool in the heat

Silk and linen literally stays cool in the heat, touch these fabrics under the hot sun and you will understand what I mean. But besides these commonly known fabrics, there are a few other options at a lower price point.

Seersucker cotton and hemp are other fabrics associated with humid summers. With technology, we now have vicose, lyocell and tencel to choose from as well. These fabrics stay cool so well that it is a popular and more budget friendly alternative to silk bedsheets and pillowcases [link].

What are worst fabrics for hot weather

Fabrics that retain heat or low quality synthetic fabrics are not ideal for sure. None of us would wear a thick wooly coat on a hot summer’s day. However, we may wear a thin polyester blouse, which looks nice and cooling.

But, is it?

Besides potentially having traces of toxins left behind from low quality dyes, some synthetic fabrics often have terribly low breathability. These low quality fabrics are often associated with cheap polyester.

It feels plasticky to the touch and when worn, it’s almost like wearing a plastic bag. It makes you perspire easily as it is not breathable and can easily trigger eczema if you have sensitive skin.

silk vs linen shirts for hot weather, which is better polyester raincoat
Take this classic Old salt raincoat from Kiel James Patrick, perfect for rainy days and insulation from the wind. I love this raincoat and highly recommend it, but if it can keep you protected against the cold and wind, it is not a good choice on a hot humid day!

What are extreme hot weather clothing

Dri-FIT, which is 100% polyester, is a popular extreme hot weather clothing choice. I know I said earlier that polyester should be avoided for hot weathers, but Dri-FIT is unlike most cheap, low quality polyester.

Dri-FIT is a high performance polyester material that is able to wick sweat away even quicker than linen, silk or cotton can. Top end Dri-FIT material even has antibacterial agents in it to prevent odours.

The only downside of Dri-FIT is that it just isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as silk or linen. But when it comes to extreme hot weather, function is more important!


silk vs linen shirts for hot weather, which is better
Are you team Silk or team Linen for summer? Pick your gnome!

What is the best fabric for hot humid weather

I stand firmly by my thoughts that the best fabric is what matches the activity you are doing. Personally, I do not perspire very much and most of my silks are loose. I have to admit that I am very biased towards silk and wear it with every opportunity I get. If I do get any sweat stains, I would just treat it [link] and handwash it along with my silk pillowcases[link], silk scrunchies[link] and silk night caps [link].

However, there are days where I would pick linen shirts without fail. Say, for outdoor occasions where I know silk would likely get snagged or dirtied. Or on days where I want to match my linen shirt to my husband’s linen shirt!

I’m curious, are you team linen or team silk?