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Is Silk always better than Polyester? – Part 1

Note 1: This post is my personal opinion. My intention is to open a dialogue about the age old adage that “Silk is better than Polyester”. This is not to judge or criticize the sartorial choices made by anyone. I wanted to share my thoughts as I feel passionately about this topic. That’s all.

Note 2: When I sat down to write this, it became such a long blog post that I decided to break it up into 3 parts. I’d recommend starting with the below post. You can find Part 2 and Part 3 here. 

In the last few years, I’ve heard and read a lot about how polyester is the devil. Many minimalists, style bloggers, fashion thinkers and magazines have been questioning if we should be paying for polyester clothes at all. I have seen statements like ‘Just say no to polyester.’, ‘Throw out everything polyester in your closet.’


The beauty of fabrics

I do understand the rational behind wanting silk in our closets. Let me be the first  one to bring up the positives of silk before we jump into the actual comparison.

Pros of Silk:

  1. It is a natural fabric, unlike polyester, which is a synthetic one.
  2. The ‘flowy-ness’ of silk gives a natural sheen to any garment and when crafted correctly, it drapes beautifully on the body.
  3. It is more ‘breathable’ than most synthetic garments
  4. It can be worn in cold and warm weather (to some extent, depending on how heavy or light the garment in question is and if you can layer it)

I am sure most of you could come with a bigger list. I can understand why people would insist that the dress or blouse NOT be polyester when it is priced like silk by retailers and fashion brands “$150+ for a polyester dress?? No Thanks! I am happy to spend another $50 to get a 100% silk dress.”

But is everything really so ‘hunky dory’ with silk? I realized that the reality is far from it. Let me share my personal experience  and walk  you through the actual purchase that got me thinking about this.

An year ago, I was shopping online for a shirt dress for work . Like everyone else who understands the basics of personal style and quality, I was making sure that I consider only silk-blends or 100% silk items from reputed retailers.

Then I saw it – this beautiful maroon silk dress with a tiny flower print. The description said ‘This sleeveless shirtdress is made with 100% luxurious silk.’ I was so happy with my find as it ticked off all my ‘requirement check boxes’. I promptly bought it. When the dress arrived home, it looked nice… not great, just nice. You see, the 100% silk dress that I held in my hands was very, very light. It did not have the nice weight that you associate with silk. I think the issue was thread count – it was too less. There was no shine to the garment as it was very light and almost threadbare!

In all honesty I should have paid more attention while buying it. The dress was unlined. While heavy silk garments can be worn without any lining,this dress was definitely not one of those! (I started wearing it with a slip underneath)

More problems? – Though the size of the dress was right for me, this particular silk fabric kept clinging to my hips and tummy and just magnified every problem area on my body. It even made the ‘non-problem areas’ look bad! Unfortunately, by the time I could recognize all these problems with the dress, I’d started using it and lost the tags. Uhh!!! So much for shopping from the comfort of the house!!

Let us get real for a minute. Is silk really that great? More importantly, is silk the right choice for everybody? Below are the cons of silk that I recognized only after I started looking at my purchase choices more closely.

Cons of Silk:

  1. Almost all silk clothes need extra wash-care. You cannot just put them in the washer. 90% of silk clothes need to be dry-washed or hand-washed gently.
  2. Exposure to too much sun may lighten the color. silk also wears out easily.
  3. Silk clothes can wrinkle easily and are also hard to iron (I’m not saying they are impossible to iron, just a little harder).
  4. Like I mentioned above, when the garment is not made well, silk can accentuate your imperfections!

Please find this discussion continued in Part 2, where I discuss the ‘evils’ of polyester before I talk about its positives in Part 3.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. I had the same bad experience with my first silk dress.

    I sold this dress last December. It was really clingy and the shape changed when I wore a slip. I made the mistake of purchasing this in thin silk and poor quality thread work on the seams for not so cheap price. It was a new and upcoming designer and I have a thing for shirt dresses.

    Everlane silk is pretty thin too but I like that for for shirts. I would never buy a silk dress in that thickness. My best friend purchased a silk dress from APC. It was so thick that when it came home, I thought it was not silk but some sort of thick cotton. I guess there is a reason why silk is expensive. I have a celine dress in silk. Again, thick silk that is almost stiff. I also visited a vintage kimono exhibit in NYC. Thick silk. I think the manufacturers are skimping on the quality in the name of a luxurious fabric. Just like they sell handbags priced way above what they are worth for namesake.

    I had to make the mistakes to learn it the hard way.


    May 1, 2016
  2. SA. #

    Ah! Shirt dresses – how I love them! I purchased a silk shirt dress last year, by a new designer too! – Misha Nonoo. After trying to make it work for very long, I sold it off. Looks like we all make the same mistakes.

    About Everlane, I agree! I have one blouse which I need to use more this year! Equipment blouses are slightly thicker than Everlane’s, but they are pricier and justified only on sale.
    Then comes the debate – Both Everlane and Equipment silk blouses are made in China, though Everlane is much more transparent about their process. I don’t want to automatically rule out ‘Made in China’ because I lived there and I know many people and business owners do care about quality and labor conditions.

    I have been meaning to explore A.P.C more, but may be next year as I have enough clothes for this year:) What you said about that Kimono – it reminds me of my mother’s ‘kanchi pattu saris’ back in India. They look soo beautiful, luxurious and heavy to the touch, and some of them are more than 20 years old. Silk should be expensive! In my opinion, it is very hard to work with silk when cutting and stitching. I want to pay for a dress that will last me for at least a few years, and will be cherished. But, I am starting to see the problem with $200 silk dresses, which are lighter on my pocket but don’t really hit the ‘happy note’ in terms of quality and wear.


    May 1, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Is Silk always better than Polyester? – Part 2 – Dear Beautiful World,
  2. Is Silk always better than Polyester? – Part 3 – Dear Beautiful World,

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