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Cotton or Polyester? Which one is the best?

The comparison between cotton and poly pieces in Lolita Fashion is inevitable: we constantly see brands moving from heavy cotton releases to poly blends, but, what does that actually mean for us, consumers?

Well, first of all, cotton and polyester are two very different materials.

While cotton is a natural fiber, derived from a plant, Polyester, on the other hand, is made from petroleum products. In between these two is also common to find blends of poly and cotton, but, for now, let’s focus on pieces made either from cotton or poly.

How can I identify if a piece is made of 100% cotton or poly?

My first suggestion is to check out the tag of the piece. There you can usually find the description of the type of fabric that was used on the piece and instructions for wash and storage.

Check, for example, this tag from a Victorian Maiden piece:

Above you can check the following information:

  • Outer material: Polyester 65%
    Rayon: 35%
  • Other fabrics: Cotton 100%
  • Lining: Polyester 100%

Those are the listed materials for Victorian Check (from Victorian Maiden). But, if you don’t have access to the tag, it’s also possible to check the store information. Wunderwelt, for example, always lists the materials used, as you can see below (original item can be found here) :

Other than that, it’s also possible to identify the item’s material by through the texture. Cotton fibers are less abrasive than the poly ones, so they tend to feel softer on the skin. Of course this is not mandatory, and will require some practice, so I’d suggest you to experiment with your pieces and try to understand the texture differences between poly and cotton.

Other than the visuals, what are the main differences?

Ok, so, there are a lot of differences between cotton and poly, so let’s focus on the most important for us:

  • Cotton is usually more breathable than polyester, but if your dress if made out of cotton and has a full lining of poly, this difference won’t be that noticeable. (Check this review of Cherry Audrey from BTSSB to see a Cotton Fabric from up close)
  • Polyester and polyester blends have less chances of wrinkling, being easier to store. But pay attention: they are more prone to burning when ironing, so read the tag instructions carefully!
  • Polyester is stronger when holding dyes, so the chances of your print fading are fewer on this fabric.
  • Cotton is a better option for sensitive skins, so it’s best to consider this kind of piece if you’re allergic.
  • Poly tends to be cheaper nowadays than 100% cotton, so it’s something to consider if you’re looking to save a bit. But, keep in mind that the final price of the fabric / piece depends on a bunch of factors that may or may not be directly related to the type of fabric used.
  • Polyester is not compostable, meaning it won’t be absorbed by the soil. So keep that in mind when buying this kind of piece.

So, which one is the best?

That, my friend, will depend on your interest. Each type of fabric will have its pros and cons, and it’s up to you to pick the one that fits your needs better.

I’d suggest experimenting with each type and seeing what you like the most.

Below you can find some dresses in cotton and Poly for you to compare:

100% Cotton

https://www.wunderwelt.jp/en/products/w-23794

https://www.wunderwelt.jp/en/products/w-47923

100% Polyester

https://www.wunderwelt.jp/en/products/w-48254

And that’s it! See you on the next post 🙂

Laura Ribeiro
26-years-old Brazilian, trying to survive with a black and navy wardrobe during the summer. I work as a freelancer writer in fashion, games and education. During my free time I enjoy sewing, writing fiction, drawing and, of course, playing lots of video game.