Cute, trendy, natural fabric garments for a 20-something woman?
May 14, 2014 2:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm a 24 year old woman who needs to do some serious wardrobe updating. I'm tired of rayon and polyester, especially for summer.

I love the aesthetics of sites like, but in my less attentive moments I've ordered clothes from them that look soft and comfortable but which are really made out of rayon, or polyester, or part silk, or some other semi-fancy, fussy material. For instance, this dress, which looks adorable and I would LOVE-- if it were made of cotton or linen. Same with this one. I don't like that pseudo-designer, "upscale" feel to clothes, I don't like taking my dresses to the dry cleaners, and I want breathable, light fabrics. My style and looks favor intricate patterns and details, knits, embroidery, and muted colors/not high-contrast patterns. (I slightly favor mori girl, but not as frilly as this blog.)

Is there a place I can reliably shop for garments like this-- that are still fun and trendy and age appropriate-- but which are mostly made of natural-feeling fabrics like cotton and linen? I've thought about buying some dresses like these ones from Mata Traders, for instance. Sometimes Urban Outfitters fits the bill.

I currently like Free People but it's quite expensive for clothes that don't seem quite made for my body type. (For the record, I'm somewhat petite.) Basically, if you have tastes like mine, where do you shop for clothes? I'm mostly focused on dresses, skirts and tops right now. I tend to like adventurous styles (just bought a pair of high-waisted harem-style jeans from Free People... ) and I like all lengths of skirt.
posted by stoneandstar to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I have a friend who loooooved ordering things from eShakti, which does a lot of cotton stuff, though I think now she's more into sewing her own things.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:55 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about American Rag at Macy's? They use a mix of materials, but usually have some cute cotton items.
posted by wintersweet at 2:55 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most trendy/inexpensive clothes are going to be made from polyester, because it's cheap. Natural fibers almost always going to be more expensive.

A quick note on rayon - rayon is actually a natural fiber, it's cellulose. It breathes, unlike polyester, and typically has a very drapey, soft hand, not a stiff plasticky one. So I wouldn't necessarily discount it.

May be too preppy/expensive for you but Boden has lots of summer linen/cotton stuff right now. And Modcloth is useful because you can search by fiber.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:03 PM on May 14, 2014

Clothes with a lot of details like embroidery, ruffles, pin-tucks, are going to need special care, as a rule. If you like that boho Free People style, be prepared to either fork over a lot of money for dry cleaning or become a fabric care specialist. Knitwear (in the keeping warm sense) is equally persnickety unless you're down with lots of acrylic.

A lot of "dry clean only" clothes can absolutely be machine washed. Just wash on delicate and hang dry. You may find yourself needing to iron or steam things more frequently than machine-washable items would need it because you don't get that "perma press" effect from the dryer.

One thing that helps with fiber content is to shop in person rather than online. I love ModCloth, but I've been burned by them a lot in terms of how the clothes feel.
posted by Sara C. at 3:09 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I guess I should go ahead and say that I do ignore "dry clean only" care instructions rather often, and put clothes with ruffles, embroidery, &c. in the washer on delicate more often than not, because life's too short. (Free People has so far not been especially fragile on these terms. Also before I get a bunch of boho style recs, I am more about their more mainstream-y looking clothes than their super boho stuff.)

I also don't really care if it's natural or not as long as it's breathable and not got that kind of icky plasticky feeling (which I assume is polyester? idk) so the rayon clarification was useful, thanks!

And yes, I would like to shop in person because I am tired of ordering clothes online that are a little erghh when they arrive-- suggestions on where to shop IRL are much appreciated! (For instance, Urban Outfitters uses lots of different material but pretty reliably has cute cottony sundresses, though their cuts have gotten too-too short and/or too expensive for me lately.)
posted by stoneandstar at 3:15 PM on May 14, 2014

Everlane, maybe?

I love Uniqlo, but so far they're only in the NYC area and San Francisco, and I think you're in Chicago. They are a very stripped down style, though -- but lots of natural fabrics and easy to care for as a rule.
posted by Sara C. at 3:17 PM on May 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wikipedia on rayon: Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber... Because rayon is manufactured from naturally occurring polymers, it is considered a semi-synthetic fiber. There's a big quality variation in rayon; as with most fibres, it's not really a guarantee of decent or lousy quality in and of itself.

If you have the patience and time, I'd trawl Etsy, both for the handmade and the vintage.
posted by kmennie at 3:20 PM on May 14, 2014

Check out Boden, too. I love a lot of their dresses and tops. A bit pricier than Ruche, but better and more consistent quality.
posted by anonnymoose at 4:09 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

JJill has lots of nice linen clothing.
posted by Kazimirovna at 5:14 PM on May 14, 2014

Madewell can be kind of pricey and isn't always petite-friendly, so you may want to try things on in-store, but they use mostly natural fabrics and their stuff is generally decently constructed.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:14 PM on May 14, 2014

Look for cotton/modal

Victoria's Secret, Macy's, Gap, even Sears will sometimes have them. I usually can only find one perfect dress per store. I have super sensitive skin and cannot wear synthetics. If you walk into a store and get the feeling that, if there was a fire, everything in there would melt instead of burn, then, you are not in the right store for you.
posted by myselfasme at 8:32 PM on May 14, 2014

I have a 55% cotton/45% viscose skirt from Desigual that I love. It feels extremely comfortable and has cool embroidery on it. They have some other ones that are 100% cotton. I got mine though My Habit, which has them on sale periodically.

My absolute favorite skirt is a cotton a-line skirt from Mango, but I've never seen anything like it there again. However, something like this might interest you.

This is my best summer dress. I have two sleeveless ones and one with long sleeves. I get so many compliments when I wear it. 48% cotton. It also feels nice and is great for wearing in the heat.

Title Nine might also have options for you. I think this one is cute and it's 100% cotton.
posted by carolr at 8:33 PM on May 14, 2014

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