I get asked this question all the time: Is polyester sweaty to wear?
The short answer is: YES.
The long answer is SOMETIMES. It depends on the fabric, style, season, preferences and what your alternatives are! I wrote a whole post called “In Praise of Polyester” last year, in which I describe some of my most and least favourite types of poly knits. (I’ll be honest, I don’t know a thing about polyester wovens.)
Basically, the thicker your fabric and the tighter it is to your body, the more likely you’ll find it uncomfortable or smelly by the end of the day! Here are some combinations that I find work well/poorly:
- ITY knit makes for fantastic dresses all year round. In summer, I sew sleeveless styles for some extra ventilation, and find it very comfortable even in a maxi. I winter, sleeves are not a problem. I wear ITY bike shorts under every dress, and I find it a bit sweaty but not more than rayon or cotton.
- Jacquard knit or quilted knit makes for great outer layers like coatigans or kimono jackets, where it isn’t too close to your skin. I haven’t had good luck using these thick fabrics for tops or snug dresses!
- Liverpool knit (a textured crepe double knit) is awesome for spring, fall and winter dresses. It’s going to be way too sweaty and thick in summer.
- Double Brushed Poly: good for cool-weather tees, dresses, leggings etc, but because it has a brushed texture I find it uncomfortably cosy for summer. It’s basically the same as ITY, but brushed on both sides! I don’t find it sweaty in cool weather.
- Scuba is a really thick poly knit, so I think you have to be careful. Sleeveless dresses paired with a cardigan in cold weather would be best, I think. I tried making leggings from scuba and they were sweaty and made me cold, which was a terrible combo!
Basically, polyester is more sweaty than a loose garment in rayon challis or linen… but not more sweaty than skinny jeans or any really fitted top! I personally like that poly dries quickly, whereas I feel like cotton lycra or rayon can stay uncomfortably damp for a while. (TMI? Maybe.) Our summer is about 30c most of the time, and I’m wearing a loose poly jumpsuit right now and loving life.
Now, when is polyester not for you?
- if you live somewhere really hot
- if you are having hot flashes often
- if you love wearing natural fibres
- if you prefer a gentle deodorant that doesn’t do much to control odour
- or if you don’t like the idea of microfibre pollution in the wash! (For me, no one type of fabric is environmentally ideal, so wear what I want and try to reduce waste in other ways!)
I’d love to know your thoughts! I wear poly all year round, and even as a fairly sweaty person, I don’t consider it to be an issue. Everyone is different though, so please do share your experiences!