Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

July 15, 2008

95% Cotton?

Filed under: Fashion,The Big Question,Uncategorized — Francesca @ 8:41 am

This season, cotton shirts have overwhelmingly given way to a combination of cotton and spandex. Usually the spandex content is only 5% or so, but Francesca has seen many shirts, supposedly for summer, which are 12% spandex.

Francesca is of two minds about this trend. On one hand, a cotton/spandex mix hangs better than pure cotton on the Big Girl’s frame.

On the other, nothing beats pure cotton for freshness on a swelteringly hot summer day.

Designers read this blog, so Francesca wants to know: How do you feel about cotton/spandex blends vs. pure cotton?


  1. What I really prefer in the hot, sticky summer is linen, or a cotton and linen blend.

    All cotton is good too, if the cut is loose. The cotton/lycra blend is second choice. It doesn’t seem as cool as the all cotton. And clothes made to stretch are usually more form-fitting. In the summer I prefer the loose and flowing cuts.

    Comment by anne — July 15, 2008 @ 9:38 am

  2. I like the 95/5 cotton/spandex blend, especially in tees. They hold their shape better, and you don’t end up with a droopy cotton tee after a few washings. Spandex in woven cotton shirts is trickier; the stretch and shape retention is helpful, but sometimes the look is too slick. They also need dry cleaning to keep the shirt crisp.

    I live the SF Bay Area, and we don’t get too many sweltering summer days – therefore, the need for pure cotton is less.

    Comment by Grace — July 15, 2008 @ 9:42 am

  3. I’m with Anne, I like a linen/cotton shirt for really hot days. OTOH, 5% spandex is nice so that shirts hold their shape and don’t cling. I wash all my spandex blend shirts in cold water & hang them to dry, and they iron very well.

    Comment by rosarita — July 15, 2008 @ 10:23 am

  4. Im in the deep south and agree with Anne. Linen and cotton is the only way to go for tops, skirts and dresses. 100% linen or cotton pants look too droopy after a few hours and do need a light touch of something like spandex. Eileen Fisher linen is heavenly.

    Spandex just scares me. I still hear stories of a girlfriend of my husband who wore spandex pants and Candies in the 1980’s. She was a lovely girl with a red neck who would kick a** if you looked at her man.

    Comment by Peaches — July 15, 2008 @ 10:37 am

  5. Here around San Francisco, as Grace pointed out, we don’t get that many really hot, sticky days…but I have a friend who recently moved to Washington, DC who is beyond Not Impressed with her inability to get anything in pure cotton. I think we need more pure cotton clothes available for those who need them. And speaking as someone who spends the half-dozen seriously hot days of the year out my way suffering the torments of the complete weather wussy, I want them for me, too, dammit!

    A touch of spandex does, indeed, add to the life and shapliness of many a knit garment, but I prefer pure cotton for my woven summer wear.

    Comment by Twistie — July 15, 2008 @ 11:00 am

  6. 5% is about the tops in our sticky Midwest weather, but it really does help keep the shape. I wish more things were in classic seersucker – nice and cool, but wrinkles don’t show. There is also nothing like a 100% cotton tiered peasant skirt during the worst days of summer, fashion be damned.

    Comment by Dowdydiva — July 15, 2008 @ 11:03 am

  7. Our hot days can be easily in triple digits, but we don’t get the swelter factor (NO humidity) so I like my cotton tees with at least a couple percent something else in ’em. I find that 100% cotton just stretches out and gets really wrinkly by the end of the day on me (so I can’t deal with linen either, the wrinkles make me craaaazy). I am always looking for the perfect blend, still haven’t found it (sniff…), has anyone had any luck with American Apparel tops? They seem to run small but I am almost tempted to give them a shot anyways.

    Comment by Anne (in Reno) — July 15, 2008 @ 11:13 am

  8. I won’t buy any t-shirts with spandex in them. Because they’re generally cut a skoosh smaller than their 100% cotton counterparts and cling in places I’d rather they didn’t.

    Comment by Natalie — July 15, 2008 @ 11:58 am

  9. I never met a white blouse that I didn’t like (and buy). I must have at least 40 or 50 of them and they are running about 50/50 on the cotton vs. cotton/spandex scale. The spandex holds its shape through numerous washings, but there is just something about the look of an all cottton white blouse that makes it so worth the extra washing and ironing effort. I am not nuts about linen, because the minute I move, it wrinkles and I can’t stand wrinkles.

    Comment by gemdiva — July 15, 2008 @ 12:15 pm

  10. Can’t do 100% cotton..too juggylicious for that – it’s gotta have a little give to work with the girls. (Plus I find pure cotton makes the sweaty spots even more noticeable on 100 degree plus Sactown summer days.)

    Comment by Alyssa — July 15, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

  11. I’d much rather 100% cotton. Clothes that are loose on the body are cooler than those that cling. I like the feel of 100% cotton better, too.

    Comment by JRho — July 15, 2008 @ 2:19 pm

  12. I would take 50% spandex in my shirts if I could have 100% pretty cotton undies. Anyone? Anyone? Is anyone making 100% cotton undies that don’t look like something my granma wears?

    Comment by class-factotum — July 15, 2008 @ 6:31 pm

  13. I think it works best if the 100% cotton shirt is non-fitted and the 5% spandex shirt is fitted – best of both worlds?

    Comment by Cybill — July 15, 2008 @ 7:55 pm

  14. It’s too damn hot. Let’s all go naked. Better yet, let’s go swimming.

    Comment by Leah — July 16, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

  15. I find my sentiments to be about … 50/50. Heh. I LOVE natural fabrics, either pure or combined with one another: hemp, ramie, linen, bamboo, silk, cotton, wool, and blends thereof. That said, I have a big love on for a smattering of spandex in the mix. I like it, not so garments can be tighter, but so they recover and/or hold their original shapes better, and so that a garment can be fitted, but leave room for muscle expansion and stretch without risking popping a button. I really, really love that recover factor. That said, I think for some garments – peasant skirts, etc. – that rely on volume for shape and comfort – spandex isn’t a necessity, and I would rather do without.

    Comment by La BellaDonna — July 16, 2008 @ 1:23 pm

  16. class-factotum I like Gaiam’s 100% cotton undies. They have thong, bikini, hip-hugger, high-cut and brief styles in black and “natural”; though only up to size 9. (And they are on sale now for $13/3 pack.)

    I can’t seem to make a link that works, but at they are under apparel/intimates/underwear.

    Jockey has 100% cotton (Classic) French cut panties up to size 10.

    Comment by Carol — July 16, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

  17. I’m all for lycra in small percentages. I actually get annoyed when a t-shirt doesn’t have a hint of stretch. My curves gotta move, you know. The loose, boxy look of a traditional t-shirt does abolutely nothing for me.

    Comment by Lyndsae — July 17, 2008 @ 10:42 am

  18. It depends on what I’m wearing. Right now I’m wearing a 100% cotton shirt from Target but it has enough give to let my rack o’ doom move. And since it’s going to be in the 90s’ with extra humidity (gotta love those sticky Maryland summers), it’ll be more breathable.

    Button down shirts have to have that stretch because with my chest, it’s pucker and gape city. And it holds shape better after repeated washings.

    Comment by Bree — July 17, 2008 @ 11:24 am

  19. I’m loving the cotton/silk blend tops I got at the beginning of the summer. The weight is wonderful and the drape is great.

    Comment by Eilish — July 17, 2008 @ 12:22 pm

  20. Cotton shapes itself to my body. Cotton/spandex doesn’t. It pulls and reveals every detail of what’s underneath in the places where it’s tight and gaps in the places where it’s loose. And, if I buy a size that’s big enough to be loose everywhere, it looks like a sack.

    If I’m going to wear cotton/spandex, I want it to have some weight to it (so it doesn’t reveal, say, the button of my pants and every little roll and bump on my body), I want it to be form fitting, and I’ll wear it for workouts and active hobbies.

    Tees that I wear as normal clothing should be able to conform to the shape of my body without being too clingy.

    Comment by Dee — July 17, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

  21. Hello. This is all about taste. I completely agree with you regarding \”Manolo for the Big Girl!\”, but I think you are in the thin line of thinling. Don\’t you? Maybe you can try candies perfume gift set

    Comment by Frederika Mirtshe — March 15, 2009 @ 7:31 am

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