What are the best fabrics for lingerie?

Satin lingerie fabric

Sourcing Fabrics for Lingerie

Selecting lingerie fabrics is a complicated issue for many designers. Most designers agree that natural fabrics, such as cotton, bamboo, etc are wonderful on the skin. And with soft, sensitive skin on your boobs, you obviously want the best fabric against your skin. However, by nature, lingerie requires at least a certain amount of stretch to maintain the strength required for support. This stretch is provided by elastic which is placed either in the fabric, in the support bands, or both. So it’s necessary to include at least a certain amount of synthetic fibers in your lingerie design.

The Problem with Synthetics

If you’ve ever worn a polyester tshirt on a hot day, then you definitely know what we’re talking about. When you first put the shirt on in the morning it feels the same pretty much as any fabric. But when you walk out in the sun… Wow, big difference! That’s what it’s like wearing a polyester bra. It might be well-fitted, comfortable and all that. But when heat and sweat is involved, then it’s a whole different story. For that reason, we typically recommend that designers not specify synthetic fabrics up against the skin with lingerie. The best fabrics for lingerie will be absorbent as well as soft and won’t leave your skin damp and clammy.

Natural Fabrics in Lingerie

A natural fabric typically has good moisture absorption. But the downside is that once it absorbs the moisture, then it tends to hold it and is much slower to dry. Cotton underwear, for example, will have a far longer dry time than a polyester or nylon underwear fabric. Again, there’s a trade-off here. The synthetic might cause you to sweat more but the cotton will hold the moisture longer.

Our Recommendations

With all that in mind, there’s a clear strategy. What’s the best fabric for lingerie? Answer: It depends. If you’re designing for a situation where sweating is guaranteed, such as a fitness class, then you’ll definitely want to consider a synthetic material like dri-fit polyester or another activewear fabric. That type of fabric will dry more quickly, offer more support, and will be a more popular choice. If you’re designing a line that’s intended for daily use in the home or office, then you’ll probably want to consider fabrics that won’t encourage sweating, such as cotton or bamboo. If you’re designing sexy lingerie with lace and other details, then who the hell cares what it’s made of!? It’s probably not going to be worn all day anyway!

We hope that helps! If you’re interested in more fabric comparisons, check out our article about nylon vs. polyester swimwear fabrics.