Summer shirts. It's finally time to wear them again. But, if you're in a non-air-conditioned office, an air-conditioned office, spending a hot day outside, enjoying a company get together, or attending a summer wedding, the question arises: Linen vs. cotton… which is better?
Consider the cotton suit. Maybe even a cotton shirt with chinos or jeans, if you're more casual. However, once you start to sweat, that shirt will stick to your body, and you're likely to notice sweat marks around the collar and armpits.
Isn't there a better way to dress?
Polyester and cotton pretty much have the market cornered regarding clothing material. At the expense of mother nature, cheap materials have been boosted by fast fashion. So, between polyester and cotton, if you're going with the two most popular fabrics, you get to choose which one you want to perspire in.
In Summer and in the Tropics
In many areas, summer is a sweltering season, and some areas are even hotter than others. Surely, particularly during the summer months, there's got to be a better alternative to cotton.
Ready? Here it comes… linen versus cotton: What's "best"?
If you define "best" as having characteristics such as sustainability, look, and comfort – or a combination thereof – there can be little doubt as to which wins out. But, for the sake of argument, let's take this apart.
For the most comfort in summer, fabrics should be the following:
- Able to absorb moisture (high wicking capability)
This is where we rate cotton and linen by category. First, each fabric will be rated by an RET score (water-vapor resistance):
Breathability – A higher RET score means that the fabric is less likely to let perspiration pass through. That means you're going to sweat, and it's not likely to pass through the fabric easily.
- Linen: 3.84
- Cotton: 3.86
Air breathability – This describes the ventilation properties of a fabric. If the fabric has a natural cooling effect, it will rate higher.
- Long fiber linen: 2294
- Cotton: 499
Sweat (or water) absorption – Your apparel will feel less damp or wet the higher the absorption of water.
- Long fiber linen: with the highest absorption capacity – and faster drying capabilities – a score of 0.388
- Cotton: 0.386
The linen score is best with regard to comfort. It scores well on moisture management, liquid absorption, breathability, and ventilation. Technically speaking, in relation to the IMT Comfort Index, with an index of 0.388, linen scores the highest comfort. With a score of 0.386, cotton is not that far behind, however.
Cotton and Linen Rated by "Look"
Most often, cotton is seen when people don their formalwear. In truth, it's a great choice with its regularity and high thread counts.
However, fitted linen trousers, a linen blazer, and/or a nice linen shirt can be worn to formal occasions, as well. You can dress up a linen suit with the right tie (please no shiny, silk ties here), and appropriate shoes. You will look more comfortable, you will feel better, and you'll still be exuding a formal vibe.
You may not be able to pull off a black-tie event in linen, so save your uber formal events for winter whenever possible!
Note: For those who rate sustainability as a positive characteristic, linen wins out, hands down.
Looking For Linen Or Cotton Apparel This Summer?
If you think you'd look good in a Guayabera shirt – and you would – remember to check out Casual Tropical Wear’s website. We carry Guayabera shirts made of cotton and linen, and we offer shirts of varied colors to fit all preferences and tastes. Don’t shop anywhere else until you check out our collection!