IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

If you want to avoid sweat stains, here's what to wear — according to a stylist

Plus, a textile expert's tips on how to remove the toughest marks.
Tired Overheated Woman Using Wave Fan Suffer From Heat Sweating, Cools Herself, Feels Sluggis
Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm / Getty Images

Summertime is here, which means there's a good chance you'll be spending a majority of it dressed in your finest bathing suits and beach cover-ups. But on those scorching hot days not spent by the pool, we're sometimes left with no other option than to deal with the sweltering temps — and sweat through our entire summer wardrobe.

Maybe you suffer from hyperhidrosis or you just simply perspire more than others; either way, the resulting sweat marks on your underarms, back, chest and other areas can ruin a look — and make you feel incredibly uncomfortable. Luckily for you, a quick fix could be as easy as checking the fabric tags on your clothes.

According to the experts, when it comes to beating the heat, it's all about choosing the right fabrics and patterns. So, we asked a stylist and a professor in textiles to let us in on what to look for when dressing for the hotter months ahead, including a few professional tips for staying dry, keeping cool and eliminating those inevitable sweat stains.

Best fabrics to avoid stains

When the turn of the season comes along, just swapping out winter items for summer ones isn't enough. To ensure optimum comfort, paying close attention to the fibers of your clothing can go a long way to lessen or even avoid major sweat marks. According to Ajoy K. Sarkar, Professor of Textile Development and Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, you want to look for hydrophilic fibers. "Cotton and linen would be the best examples because they can absorb moisture. They are also breathable."

When shopping — whether in your own closet or at the store — NYC-based personal and celebrity stylist Samantha Brown also recommends avoiding synthetics and opting for natural fibers instead. "Synthetics will make you sweat more and will show the sweat more," she said. "And then they’ll actually even leave an imprint of the sweat, even after it’s dried."

In addition to cotton and linen, Brown adds that bamboo is also a good option as well as Tencel (although it's considered synthetic, she says it's still quite breathable). But as far as other synthetics go, she recommends staying away from them, saying that the cheaper kinds can stain "really quickly." Instead, you want to reach for lighter, more open-structure fabrics. In fact, one material Sarkar recommends might surprise you: wool. "Most people don’t really think of it because it’s just counterintuitive, because [we wear] wool in the winter. But actually, a lightweight wool fabric will work very well. Wool is what is called as hygroscopic in the sense that it absorbs moisture, but when you touch the fiber, it feels dry."

Fabrics to definitely stay away from include nylon, polypropylene, silk, acrylic and viscose — "pretty much any manufactured fiber," according to Sarkar. He says polyester isn't the best material to wear in the heat either, unless it's blended with cotton. "In the cotton-poly blend, as long as you have more of the cotton in the ratio — for example, 70 percent to 30 percent in favor of cotton — that will work well because the cotton will do the breathing."

How to dress in the heat

To dress for success — and by success, we mean getting through a hot day as dry as possible and sweat mark-free — Brown says to first focus on finding looser cuts. "It’s not like you have to wear something completely oversized or hide yourself, but anything that’s really tight against the underarm and the side of the chest is going to show sweat marks more than if you have a little bit of looseness," she said. The looser the item, the better the airflow. Brown adds that looking for pieces with more ease to them is more beneficial, especially if you can't help sweating. "There’s a better chance of the sweat drying before it shows through the shirt."

After the fit comes color, and both Sarkar and Brown agree that heavy sweaters are better off sticking to darker shades since they are better at masking wet marks. "Darker colors help to hide sweat better," said Brown. "That’s why a lot of people who sweat a lot opt for black, navy — and darker patterns are also great at camouflaging any kind of perspiration." Though, if you're tempted to break out the pastels and brighter shades or your favorite silk cami (it is summer after all), you can try topping your outfit with a darker layer to hide any wet marks. "Throwing a blazer, a jean jacket, a cardigan, something over the top can help minimize the appearance [of sweat]."

Styles to wear to avoid sweat marks, according to experts

Everlane The Billow Cami

This all-cotton Billow Cami gives a perfectly loose fit for a hot day. It's also sleeveless, which will provide even more airflow to the arms and chest.

Madewell Poplin Lizzie Babydoll Dress

If you prefer sleeves, a darker shade can help cover up signs of sweat marks. This babydoll dress is a good option not only for its color, but also the breezy silhouette and puff sleeves, which will keep the fabric further away from your skin.

Lululemon All Yours Cotton T-Shirt

If you're always on the move and need a few basics that can keep up, Lululemon is a great brand to shop. "They make really cute basics that are completely passable in day-to-day life," said Brown. "They’re not just for the gym!" The pima cotton fabric featured in this tee is naturally breathable and is designed to feel soft to the touch. And since the fit offers extra room, you might be able to get away with a lighter, more summery shade.

Theory Leenda Scoop Neck Sweater in Regal Wool

If you think a wool sweater will feel too suffocating if worn in the summertime, think again. According to Theory, this scoop neck is moisture-wicking, breathable and temperature regulating.

Gap Linen Blend Buttoned Tie-Front Cami

An important tip from Brown is to be mindful of the underarm and how fabric lays against your body. Not only is this sleeveless tank made primarily of linen, but it also has adjustable spaghetti straps that can be customized to create the perfect fit. The tie-front and button detailing also offer more areas for extra breathability.

LNX High-Waisted Wide-Leg Linen Pants

With these casual pants, you can hop on the "coastal grandmother" trend and stay comfy all day long. The pair is made from a blend of cotton and linen and is described as both lightweight and breathable. And shoppers seem to love them, too — "These pants take the heat," said one five-star reviewer. "They are loose enough to breath and [the] length is good with summer footwear."

Gap Linen Cotton Hi-Low Tank Dress

This hi-low dress has a small amount of polyester, but is primarily made up of cotton and linen. The airy fit is great for airflow as well as the high-hem front. The lower back hem offers extra coverage and a stylish detail.

River Island Lace Trim Cotton Peplum Knit Top

Just because your primary shopping concern is finding materials that minimize the appearance of sweat marks doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style. "There are lots of different ways to add texture to an outfit that actually have fabrics that breathe well, too," said Brown. One fabric she suggested is lace, which can be seen front and center along the trim of this peplum cotton top.

A New Day Smocked Waist Mid-Rise A-Line Skirt

When it comes to skirts, the flowier, the better, according to Brown. "Anything that’s clingy, like a pencil skirt, is going to create more heat because it’s tighter against the body. So, looking for skirts that have a little more ease, you’ll get more air circulation. It’s cooling." We're loving this A-line option from Target that is 100 percent cotton and even has pockets.

J.Crew Cashmere Patch-Pocket Cardigan Sweater

According to Brown, another surprising fabric you should consider this summer is cashmere. "Natural cashmere, like if you get 100 percent cashmere, helps to regulate temperature, so it actually cools you if you’re hot and heats you if you’re cool." This cardigan is made form cashmere certified with the Aid by Trade Foundation and is softer and more enduring "than ever," says the brand. Using this darker shade as a layering piece is also a tip Brown offers to minimize the appearance of sweat.

Athleta Playa Linen Shirt

For summertime wear, you can't go wrong with a relaxed linen button-down. According to Athleta, this top was made for "warm-weather travels, resort vacations and to and from the beach." That might have something to do with the fact that it's 100 percent linen, lightweight and machine washable.

OttoLives Underarm Sweat Pads

The accessory you never knew you needed: sweat pads! "I’ve used them so many times dressing clients, especially if they’re under hot lights, like on set," said Brown. "A lot of TV anchors wear them. They’re just amazing because they completely mask perspiration, but they’re very, very thin and undetectable." These options from Amazon come in a 100-pack and promise to not only shield your clothing from underarm moisture, but also appear invisible under clothing.

Megababe Thigh Rescue

Even after deciding on the most sweat-resistant materials, there's sometimes no avoiding the chafing that comes with a hot summer day. When that time comes, Brown recommends Megababe to keep things dry and comfortable.

How to remove sweat stains from clothes

What's worse than sweating through your clothes? Picking up your favorite top and realizing that it has an ugly looking sweat stain already set into the fabric. But wait! Don't throw it out just yet.

Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to save stained garments, but they largely depend on whether the clothing in question is white or features color. For treating anything with color, you want to make sure you're avoiding anything that has a bleaching agent. According to Sarkar, the secret ingredient he recommends is vinegar. "What I would do is [use] white vinegar. Soak it in vinegar for about 30 minutes or so." He even says some dish detergents work well to eliminate stains.

For whites, he suggests using a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. "The advantage of hydrogen peroxide or other bleaching agents is that [it] is safe for [using on] cotton," he said. Afterwards, he says you should launder the stained clothing at a very high temperature.

For more stories like this, check out:

Subscribe to our Stuff We Love and One Great Find newsletters, and download our TODAY app to discover deals, shopping tips, budget-friendly product recommendations and more!