A Guide to Breathable Summer Fabrics

Triple-digit days are here and it’s time to switch up our wardrobes to beat the summer heat. Goodbye, cozy sweaters: these lightweight fabrics are summer essentials that offer breathability, moisture-wicking properties and a comfortable feel against the skin. Whether you’re lounging by the beach, navigating a busy city or attending a casual outdoor gathering, lightweight fabrics can make all the difference. Our Stylists are here with their hottest stay-cool tips. Without further ado, let’s get into our guide to the best fabrics for hot weather.

1. Cotton

breathable cotton outfits

When it comes to clothing that keeps you cool and comfortable for summer, cotton is a go-to fabric to ensure maximum comfort and breathability. Is cotton breathable? Yes! Here are our Stylists’ favorite cotton fabrications to wear when the temperatures rise: keep these keywords in mind as you shop. Or feel free to request a Fix and discover new favorite cotton pieces.

Egyptian cotton  

Known for its long fibers, Egyptian cotton is very soft, durable and breathable. Its high quality makes it an excellent choice for summer wear. Stylist Emiko Strah suggests investing in a classic button-down or colorful maxi dress to give you timeless pieces you can reach for year after year.  

Organic cotton  

Organic cotton is grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, making it a more eco-friendly option. Due to its processing, it’s typically softer and more breathable than conventional cotton fabric.

Cotton jersey  

This knit fabric is soft, stretchy and breathable. It’s commonly used for t-shirts and casual wear, making it a summer staple.

2. Linen

breathable linen outfits

Linen is the quintessential summer fabric, renowned for its strength, durability, lightweight texture, excellent breathability and timeless appeal. It’s a natural fabric made from the fibers of the flax plant. Its loose weave makes it popular in clothing and textiles in warm climates. By focusing on relaxed fits, light colors and strategic fabric combinations, you can effortlessly incorporate linen into your summer wardrobe. It’s one of the best fabrics for hot humid weather for a reason—see for yourself by requesting linen and linen-like pieces in your next Fix. 

Embrace loose and relaxed fits 

Linen shines in loose, relaxed silhouettes. Opt for wide-leg pants, flowy dresses and oversized shirts to maximize comfort and breathability. The loose fit allows for better air circulation, keeping you cool even in the hottest weather. Plus, the relaxed style adds an effortless, chic vibe to your summer wardrobe.

Stick to light colors 

Light-colored linen garments, such as white, beige and soft neutrals, reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it. These shades enhance the cooling effect and create a classic summer look. Pair a white linen shirt with beige linen trousers for a breezy, elegant outfit.

Mix and match with other fabrics 

Linen pairs beautifully with other summer-friendly fabrics like cotton and rayon. This mix adds texture and visual interest to your outfits. Stylist Emiko says, “Try combining wide-leg linen pants and a silk camisole or layer a lightweight linen jacket over a rayon maxi dress. These pairings will provide cool comfort with an elevated touch.”

3. Chambray

breathable chambray outfit ideas

Chambray is perfect for summer because it’s soft, lightweight and cool, the perfect swap for its heavier denim cousin—not to mention it’s the perfect “blue” in a red-white-and-blue outfit! Due to its softness and flexibility, it can be used in various styles like dresses, jumpsuits and button-ups. Chambray’s versatility makes it a valuable addition to any wardrobe; you can style chambray for various occasions, from casual outings to more polished settings. Here are our Stylist’s top tips on how to wear chambray during the hot months—and if you need a lift before the next barbecue, request a Fix from your favorite Stylist. 


When choosing chambray for summer, look for lightweight versions of the fabric—save your heavier denim for colder months. A lightweight chambray shirt or dress keeps you cool while maintaining a stylish, casual look.

Perfect cool layer

Chambray works well as a light layer during cool summer moments, like an early morning dash to yoga or a nighttime barbecue. Layer a chambray shirt as a lightweight jacket over a t-shirt or tank top and drape it over your shoulders for a casual vibe that keeps the chills away.

Wear to the office 

Chambray can be office-appropriate when styled correctly. We love to pair a chambray button-down shirt with tailored trousers or a pencil skirt. Opt for darker shades of chambray for a more polished look. Add a statement necklace or a blazer to elevate the outfit further.

4. Rayon

breathable rayon outfit ideas

Summer calls for lightweight, breathable fabrics—and rayon is a perfect choice. Known for its smooth texture and airy feel, rayon keeps you cool and comfortable even on the hottest days. Rayon is a versatile semi-synthetic fabric made from regenerated cellulose fibers, usually derived from wood pulp. It’s known for its smooth, silky texture and its ability to mimic the feel of natural fibers like silk, wool, cotton and linen—ideal for drapey summer dresses. Yes, rayon is great for summer! Try requesting it in a Fix for a summer wardrobe refresh.

Moisture absorption

One of rayon’s standout features is its ability to wick away moisture. It also effectively absorbs sweat, keeping you dry and fresh throughout the day. This is particularly beneficial during humid summer months or while engaging in physical activity.

Lightweight comfort 

Rayon is incredibly lightweight, providing a relaxed and airy feel. It drapes beautifully without clinging to the body, allowing for ease of movement and ultimate comfort. Whether you’re wearing a flowy rayon dress or a breezy blouse, you’ll enjoy the light-as-air sensation.


Rayon’s versatility allows it to be blended with other fibers like cotton and linen, enhancing its breathability and moisture-wicking properties. This makes it versatile for various summer styles, from casual daytime outfits to more polished evening looks.  Stylist Emiko suggests focusing on versatile staples during the summer. “Try reaching for a classic blazer in a long-line silhouette or a pleated high-rise short in neutral hues for easy mixing and matching.” Whether you’re headed to the office or weekend brunch, rayon’s versatility and blendability will keep you cool all summer long.

Stitch Fix style for summer

Ready to beat the heat? Take your style quiz, order a Fix and ask your Stylist to throw these breezy summer fabrics into the mix. Buy what you like and return the rest—or get a 25% discount when you keep all items. Shipping and returns are always free. It’s as easy as 1,2,3. 

A New Way To Shop

Stitch Fix connects you with personal Stylists to send you looks you’ll love.

Get Your Fix

Need expert fashion advice?

Get a personal stylist

Want more tips, trends & insider news? Follow @stitchfix on Instagram