In the never-ending quest for better quality clothing at lower prices, it's important for us budget babes to know what our clothes are made of: Fabric
, whether natural or synthetic, effects the function, comfort, care, cleaning and lifespan of each garment you purchase.
Here's what you need to know about some common fabric types:
Made from naturally occurring plant or animal material.
The touch…the feel…the fabric of our lives—Cotton is the most common and popular natural fabric today. Random fact: Did you know that United States paper money is 75% cotton
? Neither did we.
Comfortable, versatile, soft, great breathability, absorbent and durable. Denim, velour, jersey and many other popular beloved fabrics
are made from cotton.
It can wrinkle.
Natural fabric similar to cotton that is made from flax fibers.
Tends to wrinkle easily; poor elasticity
Natural, animal-derived fabric. Most wool comes from sheep; specialty types include mohair, angora and cashmere.
Incredibly warm, dirt and water resistant.
Shrinks when washed at high temperatures. Can be itchy.
is one of the oldest, most luxurious fabrics known to man, spun from the cocoons of silkworms.
Beautiful, strong and comfortable with a shimmering, natural lustre.
Delicate and susceptible to rough treatment, sunlight, perspiration.
Man-made through chemical processes where liquids are extruded and formed into filaments, which are made into fibres that are woven into a fabric.
is the most widely used manufactured fibre in the United States. Polyester has gotten a bad rap (blame fashion in the 70s), but it is quite the modern marvel.
Works well in blends with other natural fabrics, such as cotton, which extends the wear of garments. Strong, crease-resistant, colorfast and retains its shape.
Doesn't really breathe, thereby creating unsightly sweat stains; not readily biodegradable.
is neither a synthetic nor a natural fiber but rather a manufactured fiber derived from naturally occurring cellulose.
Cheap, versatile fabric. Rayon drapes well, is easy to dye, and is highly absorbent.
Tends to age poorly. The manufacturing process of rayon results in a great deal of environmental pollution, inspiring a drive to clean up the industry. (We're not scientists, but we're guessing that most synthetic fabrics use up a lot of resources and create a lot of waste since they're basically made out of plastic, which is a petroleum-based product.)
Every heard of pantyhose? Nylon was also heralded as a modern miracle when it was invented back in the 1940s.
Very elastic and resilient.
Melts at high temperatures; too much washing and drying can cause piling to occur.
A synthetic which resembles wool.
Fine, soft, "fluffy" fabric.
Very vulnerable to heat and not very warm.
A synthetic which resembles silk.
Resistant to shrinking and wrinkling; pliable and good for draping. Taffeta, satin, crepe and brocade often contain acetate.
Not as strong as silk. Keep nail polish remover and perfumes containing alcohol away as these can melt acetate fibers.