This is not the year for the pool body flaunt, so it’s okay if you procrastinated it all through winters last year. As we continue to stay home, comfort reigns supreme encore. Not just the style and the fit, but even the fabric could make a huge difference. What we should look for is breathability, ability to absorb sweat, and, if not too much to expect, the ability to dry quickly. Wrinkle resistance is very desirable, but not at the cost of comfort. Here’s what else to look for when it comes to fabrics.
1) Cotton: This is a hot weather no-brainer and if you can find long-fibered pima cotton, you will get super comfort with some amount of natural wrinkle resistance. Trouble is that many people claim to have used Pima when in fact, it might be only 20 per cent of the composition, which is where Supima comes to the rescue, as it is an established American standard for long-grain homegrown Pima.
2) Linen: This is the next one on our list and perhaps even more suited to warm climes than cotton. One big trouble — linen wrinkles faster than you can iron it so you always look like you dragged yourself out of bed five minutes ago. However, even in its natural form , it affords us certain advantages over other fabrics: (a) the wrinkled linen look can be stylish itself, and (b) it outlasts cotton by a long shot, retaining shape and weathering well over time.
3) Khadi: In a very crude sense, think of it like linen made from cotton instead of the flax plant. Much like linen, khadi has found mainstream acceptance in recent times. A lot of it is being styled into contemporary wearable apparel and that definitely adds considerably to the hipster quotient. There is, of course, the perennial favourite Fabindia. Levi’s did khadi jeans some seasons ago, and I wish they’d revive them. Bhaane has a fun take on Cuban shirts (which are very cool and very ‘in’ this season), and Raymond has an entire collection sold through their exclusive khadi stores.
4) Seersucker: The railroad-striped fabric derives its name from Shir+Shakkar (meaning milk and sugar), a visual allusion to the original colours used in the weave (of white and light tan), but also to the alternating smooth and bumpy stripes that define this pattern. It’s superbly airy, the classiest of the lot, doesn’t need to be ironed. Frankly, I am surprised at the dearth of seersucker wear on our shelves every year. Fashion house Lecoanet Hemant has some very cool seersucker shorts and trousers this season, and Uniqlo has a modest range of shirts and jackets too. Fabindia, too, has a few options.
5) Hemp: This is a low-environment impact fabric, resembles cotton and (especially) linen, and although it’s becoming popular, it still remains a small segment of the mainstream clothing lines. B-label, Hemis, and Vajor are three online sites which have quite extensive collections, including some hemp-blend pieces too.
6) Bamboo: Though they originate from an eco-friendly source, bamboo fabric (which is a kind of rayon) undergoes so many heavy chemical treatments that the end product may not be as sustainable or desirable. There are other similar rayon fabrics, which are good for summer, but their exploitation involves non-sustainable practices and, in many cases, use of heavy chemicals. So, verify before purchase. Lenzing Modal is one brand that is certifiably ethical in its process of making various kinds of rayon. They also make Tencel, which is much more eco-friendly than viscose and /or modal.