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Never, never buy polyester. It's just plain nasty. I do have some dresses which are viscose but they are cotton lined.
That said, I'm an aspie and have sensory issues when it comes to fabrics and how they feel on my skin. I can't stand the feel of man made, plasticky fabrics. No matter how nice something looks, if I doesn't feel right, I don't buy it.
commuter by touching everything in a shop I disagree that it's everywhere though, only in certain shops. If you're on a budget, H&M is great for using natural fabrics, I especially like their organic cotton ranges. (Another budget tip: the children's clothes go up to quite big sizes and you can get great basics for next to nothing!)
I don't buy polyester - it's petroleum-based, and is essentially plastic. As is nylon. I do buy viscose/rayon (plant-based, but semi-synthetic) though - lovely for drapey tops and dresses.
I just check the labels of things while I browse - partly for fabric content, partly for washing instructions. It has narrowed my shopping options somewhat (which is good for me - I spend much less on clothes now!).
Viscose is more breathable than polyester. I wouldn't touch poly if you paid me but I will use viscose fabric - in a breezy style it can be quite nice in the summer. It can be nice in mixtures as well as it adds that lovely weight and drape to the garment. Washes and wears well.
Polyester is the devil's work. It's so commonly found in cheap shops as it's cheap to produce. I've noticed recently a lot more clothes are made from poly blends even in more expensive shops which will reduce the cost of producing it.
I check clothes labels religiously now as retailers seem to be sneaking polyester into everything! Higher end labels can be just as bad for using it as I found a lovely top yesterday which said on the label 'contains wool'. When I looked, it was 95% polyester/5% wool
I like TK Maxx and often find 100% cotton items in there
I try to avoid polyester as it makes me very hot and sweaty as I am menopausal. Viscose fabric is quite nice or a viscose mix as it feels very cool and light on the skin (especially if you have dry or itchy skin) it’s lovely and cool in summer. But yes it can stretch and sometimes you have to stretch garments when they come out of the washing machine.
Viscose feels nicer, a little bit like cotton lawn, but it does (as someone upthread says) shrink like mad in the wash. It also scrumples up to a million creases making ironing tricky unless the item is still damp.
Polyester is plastic but it's far more stable and hardwearing than viscose as a fabric. I would avoid anything fitted made from polyester but something like a polyester chiffon tea dress or loose blouse is a good bet as it will really behave itself. It doesn't crease at all, it washes well, hardly needs ironing and it is pretty long lasting so you can really get wear out of it. As long as it's looser fitting design and a reasonably light polyester fabric to allow the air to circulate then it's fine.
Acrylic is THE WORST in my book. Ugh acrylic jumpers. Almost all Christmas and a lot of supermarket knitwear are acrylic and it's generally sweaty and like wearing a plastic bag with condensation in it. I hate it so much I won't ever buy an acrylic jumper again even though I'm not a fabric snob and don't mind polyester at all in dresses and skirts.
It really depends on what you want them for as each material has different properties depending on how they are made up.
When it comes to polyesters there are a ton of different types and quite often people won't even know its polyester. Most people think of polyester as a cheap and nasty fabric because that is what most cheap school trousers are made of, but there are also very high end polyesters which cost a fortune.
Polyester is good for clothes that have to be hardwearing, colour fast, crease and shrink resistance or fast drying. Mixing it with other fibres like cotton helps to give those fibres more strength (like poly cotton shirts for instance). Most of the high performance gym clothes these days are made of 100% microfibre polyesters which feel like cotton, but have none of the cotton drawbacks.
Viscose is a very different material really so you can't really say it is better than polyester. Viscose is a very fluid material, that feels and behaves like silk, but it is really a synthetic. Its not as hardwearing as polyester in that it gets weaker when wet and can be prone to mildew and mould spots if not dried properly.
I don't really know why people would say to avoid polyester because it is shiny and makes you sweaty, maybe they are confusing it with nylon.
Polyester is usually nasty; however I have a few nice drapey tops made of it which are ok to wear as they're not tight under the arms.
Viscose can be very cheap looking as it wrinkles like mad, so a dress that hangs very nicely will, after being sat on for even a few minutes, be a wrinkly mess at the back.
Viscose isn't really a natural fibre at all. Its made from very processed tree pulp. The processing turns it into cellulose which can be used to make cellophane as well as viscose. Rayon and Modal are in the same family of fabrics.