by Irene Feeney Steele
Mercury is rising, ‘Sweaty Betty’ weather has arrived in the UAE (as I like to call it) and at some stage, we are all going to get caught out on those inevitable sweat patches from the hot, humid weather and instantly regret our choice of clothing that day! I’m not going to lie, summer in the UAE really tests my patience. My mood changes the INSTANT that first sweat patch appears and a bead of sweat starts trickling down my leg on the afternoon school run roughly around now (April) and doesn’t shift until approximately November when I can sense cooler weather is on the horizon. I start to think about my daily outfit choices, what will survive a hot school pick up or the commute to work whilst also trying to maintain a sense of style. First world problems – yes most definitely…but something, let’s be honest, we all think about.
That polyester wrap dress you bought in the New Year sales might have seemed like an excellent choice at the time because in January you could even pair it with a blazer and enjoy a cool breeze whilst dining al fresco – (oh how I do enjoy the Dubai winter months!). Whilst we are extremely lucky in this part of the world to wake up each and every morning to blue skies and brightness, lots of Vitamin D, and heat that feels like a comforting warm blanket all the time – we also want to enjoy it without looking like a sweaty mess and having to conceal that unsightly underarm and back patches.
So I’ve compiled some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to fabrics in the summer and to hopefully avoid some embarrassing moments.
Cotton: everyone’s best fabric friend let’s face it. There’s a reason why most summer items consist of cotton – it just makes sense. Cotton is a natural fibre that grows with the seeds of the cotton plant. It allows air to circulate and move freely through the fabric ensuring airflow that dries out damp areas of the body, thus helping the body to cool down. Cotton poplin fabric in particular is really popular in stylish summer pieces making it breathable and extremely comfortable to wear. Organic cotton clothing is having a huge impact when it comes to sustainable fashion these days and is something that I try to invest more in when it comes to shopping. Cheesecloth material is one of my favourites to wear during summer, (I’m so drawn to it) and is made from a woven cotton gauze fabric, giving it a light and airy texture.
Tip: It’s also great when it comes to packing for traveling, as it doesn’t show creases.
Linen: My personal favourite more and more and weirdly as I become older. A good quality linen piece of clothing is an investment, trust me. If you want to be ‘cool as a cucumber’ along with looking effortlessly stylish – buy linen. It’s a loosely woven, natural fibre, which allows heat to escape from the body whilst absorbing moisture that dries quickly. One thing that irritates me about linen though, is the fact that it does wrinkle and crease easily. Tip: When traveling and if you don’t have access to an iron, hang your linen items in the bathroom, as the steam from the shower will help. If you prefer to worry less about creases on your linen, aim for linen-blend items instead when shopping.
Seersucker: Technically a member of the cotton family, (cotton deserves SO much praise in fairness!) seersucker is a thin fabric, lightly puckered and light-weighted. You may often see it paired with gingham prints – they seem to go hand-in-hand and just scream summer.
Chambray: A great alternative to denim for the hotter months because sadly wearing our favourite denim jeans, shirts, dresses and even jackets has entered ‘back-of-the-wardrobe’ territory. Chambray is a plain weave fabric made with a coloured yarn in the warp and a white yarn in the weft – similar to denim. It also has a higher thread count meaning it’s a finer weave – therefore making it more breathable. Swap your denim cut-off, skirts and dresses for chambray and you will noticeably feel the difference.
Jersey: The key to wearing jersey material in the summer is to go for 100% cotton and not a cotton-polyester blend. It is often used in t-shirts and other garments and is also stretchy making it useful for loungewear, nightwear and underwear.
Polyester: the obvious choice and everyone’s nightmare here in the summer. Because of the nature of the fabric – being water resistant, it means it is terrible at absorbing any moisture, so you are trapped in your own sweat…all day. No wonder polyester is so cheap in many cases, the items can look pretty but those sweat patches don’t. Do yourself a favour – try and AVOID during the very hot periods.
Denim and Leather: This goes without saying – it’s just too hot to wear these. I would say I’m more of a ‘winter-clothes’ girl. I’m happiest in layers, blazers and coats excite me very much and I love a nice knit teamed with my leather trousers and denim jeans. But there’s a time and a place and it is CERTAINLY not from the months of May – October in the UAE. Hang them or fold them neatly and put them away until sweaty season is over.
Rayon: So this is quite a controversial one as research shows this can be a good choice for summer but equally it isn’t. Even though it is blended from cotton, wood pulp and synthetic fibres and even though it is quite light and doesn’t stick to the body – it is very similar to polyester meaning it repels moisture rather than absorbing it.
Nylon: As a fully synthetic material, nylon is the complete opposite of breathable. Expect to reach peak ‘Sweaty-Betty’ zone if you wear nylon anytime from now – it’s designed to repel water, has a low level of absorption plus traps heat and sweat against the skin.
Now that you are fully prepared and armed in the knowledge to fight against those pesky sweat patches – just remember – the key is to find and wear fabrics in hot weather that absorb moisture, not repel it. On that note, I’m off to start putting the knits and leather away.