Cotton versus Synthetic: What's the Difference?


Cotton vs synthetic

Today we have a wide range of clothing to choose from, and within each type there is even more choice when it comes to what type of fabric is used to create those clothes.

There are natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and wool and man-made fabrics such as polyester, viscose, rayon and nylon – there are also the mixes, e.g. with various percentages of cotton and spandex, or synthetic combinations like nylon/elastine.

So what should you choose?

Not a simple question to answer, as many fabrics are good and offer several unique advantages. It is more a question of your lifestyle, the climate you live in and what suits you individually.

For instance, cotton tends to feel cool against the skin, but if you sweat it becomes clammy, so if you live in a really cold, snowy climate cotton clothing may not be the best choice, especially outdoors. But your lifestyle will have some bearing on the decision because if you stay indoors where it is warm most of the time cotton clothing could be fine for you.

So here are some advantages and disadvantages of cotton and synthetics.


  • As mentioned, cool against the skin, making it ideal for hot climates
  • Does not wick away moisture, so perhaps not the best choice for those who sweat a lot, or at times of high humidity
  • Being a natural fibre, it breathes and so you tend to feel cooler when the weather is hot
  • Wrinkles easily and so needs ironing
  • Cheaper cotton often goes out of shape easily
  • Most synthetics are warm against the skin so feel cosy in cooler weather
  • Moisture is not absorbed by synthetics the same way it is by cotton, so you don’t feel clammy after perspiring.
  • Synthetics don’t breathe like cotton, so you feel hotter after exercising, or in hot weather conditions
  • Does not wrinkle so is easier to look after
  • Keeps its shape well


Naturally enough, the cotton/poly mixes give you the best of both worlds, although they too, can become too hot in hot weather. However, if you live and work in air conditioning you will usually find the mixes and pure synthetics quite comfortable.

Some of the above points depend on the weave of the fabric, e.g. some cottons can feel quite hot if they are tightly woven, while some synthetics can feel cooler due to a more open weave.

Australians are lucky in that the temperatures here are rarely as cold as say, the US in winter. When going to the snow, it is far better to wear wool next to the skin as this will prevent perspiration settling on your skin and possibly forming a deadly, icy layer in freezing conditions.

The fitness clothing here at Stomp Apparel has been designed for lifestyle, fit, and comfort. Our comprehensive range of Crossfit, Yoga and running gear is activity appropriate.

View the full range HERE.

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