Though most of our summer plans have taken a back seat, the seasonal heat continues to carry on business as usual without any regard to the sweats that have replaced our wardrobe over the last few months. As we start to break out our warm-weather attire — still, with nowhere to go — the key to surviving long walks and socially distant gatherings outdoors is a shirt that’s cool in more ways than one. In case you’ve forgotten how to look presentable, like many of us have, we’re here to guide you through it without breaking a sweat. Allow us to walk you through the most breathable fabrics for summer and our favorite recommendations to shop right now.
Keep Cool in Cotton
Always reliable in any season, our good friend cotton is a natural fiber that essentially acts like your own personal AC. Thanks to its lightweight construction, a cotton shirt keeps air moving, making it perfect for both dry heat and humidity.
Try: Wax London’s Didcot Seersucker Shirt
Naturally dyed without any harmful chemicals, this luxe button-up does double duty. In addition to its breathable cotton makeup, Seersucker fabric is specially woven to create that signature puckered texture, resulting in more airflow all around. The contemporary menswear label’s commitment to sustainability also shows in the details — the retro-inspired Didcot features Corozo nut buttons as an eco-conscious alternative.
Lighten up in Linen
When in doubt, opt for linen. This heat-friendly fabric is known for its naturally cooling and moisture-wicking abilities. Plus, it’s a sustainable favorite for its origin — linen fibers come from the flax plant and they’re 30 percent stronger than cotton. So go ahead and throw it on the wash. It’ll only get softer over time.
Try: Faherty’s Linen Laguna Shirt
Made by Faherty, a family-founded brand that’s equally passionate about surf and sustainability, this lightweight button-up is crafted from European linen and specially washed for that soft, broken-in feel. We particularly love the wear-with-everything washed black hue for work days and date nights alike.
Chambray, All Day
Ultra-soft and lightweight, chambray makes for a fantastic alternative to denim, as it’s often dyed in shades of blue. This breezy fabric is composed of finely woven cotton fibers for maximum breathability.
Try: Bonobos’ Riviera Short Sleeve Chambray Shirt
The Riviera is a best seller for good reason. This short-sleeve button-down is made from 100 percent cotton, which we’ve already learned is one of the best fabrics to wear in hot weather. On top of its cooling construction, this chambray also comes in a range of fits and lengths, as expected from the fit-focused brand.
Ready in Rayon
Lastly, let’s not forget about good old rayon, a man-made fabric that’s typically created from wood pulp or cotton. Though it’s not a natural fiber, meaning it won’t wick moisture as well as linen or cotton, it is a thinner thread which is ideal for dry heat.
Try: Banks Journal’s Nashua Short Sleeve Woven Shirt
Complete with a relaxed camp collar that looks polished but not stiff, this lightweight shirt is one of our all-time favorites for summer. Its clean, off-white finish and contrast coconut buttons make the Nashua an easy choice for all occasions. Known for marrying style and function with a sustainable approach, Banks Journal takes prides in the details, including its recycled polyester woven labels and FSC® approved paper swing tags.
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