Fashion fabrics: Natural vs synthetic
Choosing fabrics in the natural vs synthetic debate.
What’s the difference between natural fabrics and synthetic ones? Well, natural fabrics come from plants or animals. Cotton is made from cotton plants, wool is made from sheep sheer (their fur), cashmere is made from goats, and so forth. The word synthetic means man made, not found in nature.
When it comes to fashion in the real world synthetic is usually best. It wears and washes easily and it’s generally less expensive than natural fabrics. However, cotton has many of these same benefits so the debate comes down to polyester and cotton. Both are affordable and accessible to everyone.
Polyester is the best synthetic fabric. It has come a long way since leisure suits. Today’s polyester breathes! It works well for all kinds of clothing items, everything from tough sports wear to feminine dresses. It keeps it’s shape, color, and texture even after many washes. It can be hung dried without becoming stiff or miss shapened. However, depending on the garment it may or may not be able to be dried in the clothes dryer. Best of all it doesn’t wrinkle!
Cotton is the best natural fabric. It’s comfortable and versatile. However, 100% cotton can loose its shape, stain easily, wrinkles, become stiff when hung to dry, and doesn’t breathe as well as people think. Yes, there are new and improved cottons with special treatments but they aren’t readily available to the common person. They are also fairly pricey. Overall, the best cotton material is denim. It’s strong, keeps its shape, and looks great. America practically lives in denim.
A polyester cotton blend gives you the best of both worlds. There are many blends out there but most anything part cotton part polyester will be durable, washable, and won’t wrinkle. Another great blend is cotton / spandex. Spandex got a bad reputation in the 80′s but if it is mixed with cotton it can make the perfect, most comfortable, and flattering pair of jeans you could possibly own. A little bit of spandex in a button up shirt helps the front from gapping between the buttons giving a smoother look. Lycra is also making its way into the market so keep an eye out for it too.
When it comes to high fashion of the runways, designers tend to use whatever is most expensive and unique. Not only does it matter what kind of fabric they use it’s also about the treatments to the fabric. Therefore they wouldn’t be likely to use the same cotton found in a regular t-shirt. They tend to use cotton with special treatments, specially spun, and specially woven. When you see knock offs of high fashion styles it will be made from a less expensive material. However, it usually looks just as good and is much easier to take care of than fancy designer clothes. Designers make clothes for celebrities who tend to only wear things once. When actually buying clothes for yourself you are likely to wear it more than once and need to care for it to make it last. So whether you buy natural or synthetic be aware of the care label before buying.
So natural vs. synthetic? The winner is both! Buy blends.