Ask the Tailor: Breathable Fabrics VS Lightweight Fabrics

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 Each month we ask our expert tailors to address one of your most frequent questions. This month we’re exploring the subject of breathable fabrics VS lightweight fabrics.

There are certain buzzwords in tailoring that you probably hear a lot. Fabric type is a particular area where these terms often congregate. Thread counts, fabric mixes and GSMs can all be very useful metrics… so long as you know what they mean.

We’re particularly keen to focus on the subject of breathable VS lightweight fabrics. These terms are used a lot, often interchangeably. But do they actually mean the same thing? And how will using them benefit your garment? Let us explain.

What are breathable fabrics?

A breathable fabric is a fabric that allows air to move freely through it. This is important for various reasons,but is particularly key for tailored garments designed to be worn in hot weather.

For a fabric to be breathable, it needs to be able to absorb moisture from inside the garment and release it outside of the garment. This stops it from feeling stuffy or sweaty inside the garment.

Natural fabrics are generally considered to be the most breathable. However, synthetic fabrics can be made to be more breathable by using certain weaving techniques.    

What are lightweight fabrics?

The weight of a fabric is generally down to how it has been made. This includes the fibre type, the weaving method and the fabric finish.

How lightweight a fabric is refers, quite simply, to how much the fabric itself weighs. It’s often measured in GSM, grams per square metre. Lightweight fabrics generally weigh between 30 and 150 grams per square metre. This includes fabrics such as linen, chiffon and some cottons.

Lightweight fabrics are generally cooler to wear. However, you need to be mindful that you are choosing a good quality lightweight fabric, as they can sometimes be less durable than heavier fabrics.  

So which is the right choice?

There’s a lot of crossover between lightweight and breathable fabrics. Many lighter more natural fabrics are also breathable… but the two terms are not the same thing. Heavier weight wool fabrics can also be breathable.

We suggest talking to your tailor about each individual garment and whether it needs to be lightweight, breathable, both or neither!

Next month we’ll be asking our tailors to cover another frequently asked tailoring question. Sign up to our newsletter to make sure you dont miss it.