Fashion

Shirt Fabrics 101: What to Wear for Rain or Heat

Always be prepared.
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Weather in the Philippines is anything but predictable. One day, you’re soaked through because of a rainstorm. The next you’re sweating buckets in sweltering temperatures. More than ever, it’s crucial for men to have a diverse selection of shirts for different kinds of weather situations. After all, braving torrential rains in a light cotton shirt is hardly the ideal scenario. Here, we run down some of the best shirt fabrics for hot or rainy weather. Stock up.

Fabrics for Hot Weather

It goes without saying that light, breathable fabrics are the best choice for warm weather, especially in our tropical climate. We need to sweat to keep cool, hence fabrics that allow air circulation and permit heat and moisture to escape are the most comfortable for warmer temperatures. Light shades and colors such white and pastels are also better for sunny days, since these reflect light instead of absorbing it.

Linen

Invest in a good linen shirt, one of the best fabrics for summer. Made from natural fibers, it allows the skin to breathe and also absorbs moisture. Although lightweight, this fabric lasts better than cotton and does not pill (little balls of fabric won’t form on the surface of your shirt). Linen is also versatile as it can be worn at work, an afternoon cocktail party, or even an outdoor wedding. All these said, be ready to iron more than usual as this cloth is prone to wrinkles.

Poplin

Not all cotton shirts make for good summer clothing, as comfort really depends on weight and construction. Loosely woven, lightweight fabrics are suited for balmy weather. As such, poplin or broadcloth may be your best bet for that shirt that will keep you cool in the heat. Apart from being thin, strong, and lightweight, poplin has a smooth appearance and subtle sheen, making it perfect for the workplace.

Chambray

Chambray isn’t exactly the lightest of fabrics, but it is the option for denimheads who desperately need something similar to wear in the heat. Unlike denim, chambray won’t trap heat, making it far more comfortable. Chambray is densely woven with white and indigo yarn, but remains soft and breathable. It’s the stylish choice for streetwear or even the office.

Seersucker

Consider a seersucker shirt for days that compel you to dress up. Seersucker was made popular by Ivy League kids who stepped out in suits made of this fabric while on holiday. The all-cotton fabric is marked by railroad stripes, making it a debonair choice for any warm occasion.

Piqué

Typically seen on lightweight polo shirts by Lacoste and Ralph Lauren, the piqué shirt features weaving using cotton yarn, as well as ribbing and raised parallel cords. René Lacoste, founder of brand and tennis champ, invented the piqué polo shirt as we know it today: built for tennis players in the outdoors. This is certainly ideal for warmer days when you want to go out in something casual but refined.

Fabrics for Rainy Weather

Two things about the country’s rainy climate: One, it offers a reprieve from the heat by lowering the temp; two, its draft and downpour may leave you shivering and drenched. Staying warm with heavier fabric is not enough; thick clothes and synthetic materials that don’t stick to your skin and have low water absorbency are best. Stick to dark colors, too, as these will do a better job of masking dirt from puddles and mud.

Leather

Genuine leather is pretty much a universal textile for all types of cold weather. It also proves itself useful in the rain, as it repels and doesn’t absorb water. A good leather jacket will keep you protected against the elements, and can be a worthy investment if you find yourself traveling abroad and experiencing more seasons such as fall and winter. Leather also gets better with age, so please handle with care.

Nylon

Synthetic materials such as nylon aren’t recommended for use in the summer, but becomes invaluablein cold and inclement weather. Created as a liquid before being spun into fibers, nylon is more commonly used in active and outerwear (think hiking boots and outdoor bags from your local sporting goods store) because of its ability to repel water. To ensure mobility even in the possibility of a rainstorm or a flood, opt for light, movable parkas or windbreakers.

Waxed Canvas

Canvas will not stand a chance against rain and flood, but waxed canvas is a different story. Already a durable material, canvas creates a water-repellent surface when it’s covered in wax. In short, rain drops will easily roll off on its surface. Supposedly first used by sailors who coated sailcloth with linseed oil to make it waterproof, waxed canvas now shows up in different kinds of apparel, from bomber jackets to backpacks and shoes. It also offers a stylish look that’s perfect for everyday use, as in it doesn’t have an overly sporty, technical appearance.

Twill

Though made from cotton, the tight knit of twill makes it perfect for cooler, drizzly weather. It’s dense enough to protect you from a light shower, so wear, say, that twill coat for overcast days with minimal rain. With a pattern of diagonal and parallel ribs, the fabric also has a sophisticated and dignified look, making twill pieces such as shirts, jackets, and pants a rather stylish option.

Denim

Real denim, the thick kind, is sturdy and dense enough to keep yourself warm in wet weather. With its roots in American workwear, denim is meant to withstand rumble and tumble. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that denim is able to resist the elements—including rainshowers. That said, denim will get soaked in a heavy downpour, so select your pieces wisely.

What else should you wear in cold weather?

When there’s chill in the air but a downpour seems unlikely, there is room for layering with fabrics that offer warmth. Keep yourself comfortable with wool, which is best for casual sweaters, or fleece, which makes for light and comfortable hoodies.

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Sam Beltran
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