One of the pleasures of hot weather is the chance to wear a cute sundress. These easy-to-wear garments come in a wide range of fabrics and look best with a few simple accessories. Cotton is the most widely used textile, with so many variations that it can be hard to tell the fiber of the dress. Linen and jersey are also common fabric options. However, it pays to follow the fashionistas and leave the cheap polyester and acrylic designs alone.

Fabric and Sundress Composition

A good sundress is usually made out of lightweight fabric. Since most sundresses are unlined, the fabric needs to be opaque enough to retain modesty, yet sheer enough to feel cool. Since many sundress patterns also call for a loose skirt, it helps if the fabric is light and airy. Sundresses often utilize “soft” closures, like drawstrings, or no closure at all. This variety of garment does best with a more yielding woven fabric or stretchy knit.


Cotton is the most common sundress fabric. It breathes well, wicks away sweat and moisture and is easy to launder. Cotton is also easy to maintain, looking crisp with a quick swipe of the iron. Cotton is also found in stretch knits, usually combined with spandex or modal. Denim sundresses also fall under this category.

When caring for a cotton dress, be certain to avoid exposure to chlorine bleach. Since cotton is a natural fiber, it bleaches out instantly on contact. Most cottons do best in a warm or cold water wash with a cold rinse, followed by a normal temperature tumble dry.

Jersey Knit

Jersey knits are found in beach cover-up dresses, as well as regular sundresses. Jersey drapes beautifully and dries quickly in the sun. Its soft hand and body-hugging weave combine to make a comfortable, touchable silhouette. Produced from a combination of fibers, most jersey knits are made from spandex, modal or polyester woven with cotton or silk. The softest jerseys have a high percentage of natural fiber. One drawback, however, is the tendency of cheaper jersey fabric to pill, so make sure to rotate your purse or bag to minimize rubbing on the fabric’s surface.


Linen is a longtime summer wardrobe staple and has a reputation as a luxury fabric because of its very particular care needs. Unless linen has a non-crease finish, it will wrinkle in a heartbeat; it must be dry cleaned and pressed at the highest setting of the iron. Linen is commonly seen in more expensive sundresses.

Keep the cleaning bills down by using a home dry cleaning kit rather than going to the cleaners. Often, linen requires little more than a tumble in a Dryel bag to freshen it. Do not use starch on linen, since it can stain or crease the fabric.


Man-made fabrics like polyester and acrylic are often used for cheaper sundresses. However, these fabrics are often uncomfortable in the hot sun, since they don’t breathe at all. In the summer, synthetic fabrics are probably better left behind, at least in the daytime. If you must wear a synthetic fabric dress, select a design that is completely sleeveless to mitigate mustiness from sweat.