Natural Versus Synthetic Fibers


cotton cloth

cotton cloth

Hey guys,

I’m so happy when I receive questions and, although I don’t get to answer every one of them, I do my best to share as much of my knowledge as possible.

After my last e-mail I got a question from a reader that I thought I would share. Most of the questions are specific but some of them catch me off guard.

Indeed I checked the blog and I never talk about the differences between natural and synthetic fibers. I guess it’s time 🙂

Here’s the original question from Lawson, one of my readers:

Thanks George for this enlightening message. Nevertheless, could you elaborate further on what natural fibers/materials are and what are their advantages?

thanks

Lawson

Knowing the difference between naturals and synthetics is huge. If you don’t know it, I recommend that you DON’T BUY ANYTHING. Otherwise you might end up paying a lot of money on something of low quality.

If there’s one thing I want you to remember from my article, it is this:

Natural fibers are good, synthetics are NOT so good.

Ideally you’d want your clothes to be 100% made of natural fibers (I’ll show you what those are in just a little bit). Of course, it’s sometimes difficult to find such clothes so a small percentage of synthetics is ok.

My aim is at least 80% natural fibers. I never go below that percentage even if the clothing item is really cheap. You can always find clothes that are at least 89% natural if you’re willing to invest the time to look for them.

OK, let’s see the two lists. The natural fabrics that are common for clothes include:

  • cotton
  • silk
  • wool
  • mohair
  • cashmere
  • linen
  • leather

Synthetic fibers are larger in number, so I’ll mention just a few:

  • viscose
  • acetate
  • synthetic
  • lyocell
  • polyester
  • polyurethane
  • acrylic polyesters
  • spandex
  • leather imitation
  • … and many others.

If you look on the label and you see a fabric that’s not in this list, you can safely assume it synthetic.

Now, there’s one item of clothing that you should give a break. This one more often than not has spandex in it, so don’t judge it too hard. I’m talking, of course, about underwear.

But, for the most part, you should go with natural fibers only. Here’s why.

The biggest argument is that natural fibers allow your skin to breathe. The last thing you want is a polyester shirt that will make you feel like you’re inside an oven.

The second argument is that natural fibers won’t give you rashes (except maybe, wool). This doesn’t happen to anyone but, you never know what that polyester scarf can do to you after wearing it for a few hours.

Of course, the 2 arguments above don’t really stand in case of overcoats or vests. That’s because they don’t come in direct contact with your skin. This leads me to my third and final argument for not wearing synthetic fabrics:

Social acceptance.

The style trend for both men and women is really cruel with synthetics. If they could, the style community would probably KILL all synthetics.

Wearing synthetics (which are cheaper), makes the wearer look poor, cheap, having a lower status and so on. I know it’s not *fair* but you have to understand that style is all about making a good impression on those we come in contact with.

OK, that’s about it. Now it’s time to shop for those “at least 80% natural fibers” clothes!

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1 Comment

  1. December 14, 2012

    There is also Modal and Rayon as well as Lyocell that have a natural base but a synthetic form of manufacture. Some fabrics are even using Bamboo as a base material. These semi-synthetic fabrics are getting better and more popular.

    A simple rule is to never wear a jacket with a polyester lining.

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