If you remember that perfect shirt, how comfortable it was and how it felt, you might find yourself asking why some clothing feels better than others. The reason, is the fabric first and then the design.


When looking for that perfect shirt, remember that natural fibers are often the best, especially linens and cottons for summer.


Pure linen is ideal for summer clothing. This comes in different weights from very ultra thin to heavy. While the lighter ones are preferred for blouses and dresses, the latter are suitable for summer jackets and slacks. Pure linen tends to wrinkle easily, and will need pressing. To minimize this, consider a luxurious blend of linen and cotton. The blend is especially good for jackets and slacks.


What is linen? The term "linen" refers to yarn and fabric made from flax fibers; however, today it is often used as a generic term to describe a class of woven bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles because traditionally linen was so widely used for towels, sheets, etc. In the past, the word also referred to lightweight undergarments such as shirts, chemises, waistshirts, lingerie, and detachable shirt collars and cuffs. Linens were manufactured almost exclusively of fibers from the flax plant Linum usitatissimum. But textiles made of cotton, hemp, and other plant fibers have also been referred to as 'linen', which can make the exact referent of the term somewhat unclear and confusing to the buyer.


Linen textiles may be the oldest in the world. Their history goes back many thousands of years. Fragments of straw, seeds, fibers, yarns and various types of fabrics which date back to about 8000 B.C. have been found in Swiss lake dwellings. Linen was used in the Mediterranean in the pre-Christian age. Linen was sometimes used as currency in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen because it was seen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth. Some of these fabrics, woven from hand spun yarns, were extremely fine and cannot be matched by modern spinning techniques.


So why is Linen so comfortable? Linen fabric breathes, much like human skin, it can absorb up 20% or more of its own weight in moisture, while still feeling dry to the touch. Linen also absorbs the moisture rapidly which makes it wonderful for bath and kitchen towels. You and your dishes will dry quickly. Even better, your drinking glasses will be lint free.


Linen is also truly healthy. Linen cannot provoke allergies, it is anti-static and can even help soften and preserve the skin due to its natural pH balance. The non-allergic, antibacterial, and antimycotic (Suppressing the growth of fungi) properties of linen are emphasized more and more often and is something the buyer should seriously consider.


Thanks to linens temperature-regulating properties. In hot weather, linen absorbs moisture and excess heat, while in cool weather it retains body heat. Highly absorbent and a good conductor of heat, linen fabric feels cool to the touch.


Over time linen becomes softer and even more comfortable.


Cotton is also a versatile material. There are many types of cotton available and cotton too is especially suitable for summer attire.


Crinkle cottons are ideal for casual shirts, pull on pants, and skirts. Cotton shirting is perfect for casual summer dresses and blouses. This has a soft, luxurious feel. Though it will require pressing, it is well worth the effort. Cotton pique feels rough to the touch because of the slightly raised weave. This is available in a wide range of coordinating seasonal summer prints as well as solid colors. It is most frequently used for blouses, unlined jackets, and vests. This fabric is easy to work with.


Cotton damask is ideal for dressy summer clothing and is versatile enough to use for all sorts of attire from slacks and dresses to jackets and blouses. Cotton batiste is an elegant fabric that is in great demand for blouses. This comes in various weights from lightweight to heavy. The Swiss cotton batiste is by no means cheap. French seams are preferred since theyll be visible.


Between the many choices of cottons and linens, choosing your next shirt should be a breeze and keep you comfortable and cool throughout the summer.