In hot summer months, the difference between a pleasant day out and discomfort in the heat may depend on the lightness of your clothing. Many lightweight fabrics are breathable, durable and retain color well. Many of these fabrics are also used for wedding dresses and other formal wear.
Chiffon is a lightweight fabric made from cotton, silk or nylon. The word chiffon comes from the French word for cloth or rag. Chiffon is sheer and plain woven. People often use chiffon for wedding dresses and other formal evening wear. It can feel slightly rough to the touch and often has a small amount of stretchiness.
Linen comes from flax, a plant that grows throughout the Mediterranean and large parts of Asia. Linen cloth is especially lightweight and has been traditionally used for summer wear. Linen is twice as strong as cotton and can be used for many years with proper care. Linen also lends itself to dying and holds dyes well without losing its color.
Ramie is a plant fiber-based fabric similar to linen. Ramie comes from a plant that grows in eastern areas of Asia. Its threads are very strong and ramie clothing can last much longer than cotton. Ramie is naturally a pure white but holds dyes easily. This fabric is also naturally antimicrobial and resists bacterial growth.
Silk is a versatile fabric. Fabric makers can produce very heavy silks, such as dupioni silks, as well as very lightweight varieties, such as crepe de chine. Crepe de chine, despite having a very light weight, is very durable. Many tailors find crepe de chine easy to work with due to the ease with which it accepts thread as well as its tendency to stay together rather than fray when cut.
References and ResourcesSwicofil: Ramie Yarns
NY Fashion Center: Silk Crepe de Chine Fabric Information