As the summer heat approaches its peak, the light and breezy chiffon makes a come back amongst designers. Seemingly the semi-sheer fabric is easy to identify, or so you would think. Did you know there are many fabrics that look are chiffon but aren’t really and that chiffon itself can be made from different materials?

The name Chiffon is derived from the French word for cloth. As delectable as this fabric is, it has to be careful handled, since it frays easily and it difficult to fold and store. In dresses, chiffon is usually dyed or printed, while sarees feature this fabric in solid colours.

Silk Chiffon – Silk is the best material for making chiffon due to its richness and smoothness. Silk chiffon is most commonly used for the body of bridal gowns. Its light shimmery appearance and ability to hide body flaws make it a natural choice for such gowns. However, it is also the most delicate of all chiffons and can tear while wearing it. It has to used carefully and must be dry-cleaned. Its delicate nature makes it unsuitable for garments subject to heavier use such as blouses and scarves.

Poly Chiffon – Polyester or rayon is used to make poly chiffon. Poly chiffon is much from durable than its silk counterpart. It can be hand-washed and even machine washed in the gentle cycle. However it must not be tumble dried. It drapes as easily as silk-chiffon and is much cheaper. Its durability also makes it suitable for uses in blouses and scarves. However, the durability comes at the expense of smoothness and silky texture.

Chiffon Blends – To create chiffon with the durability of Poly Chiffon and the smoothness of Silk Chiffon, polyester and silk are often blended together in various proportions.

Similar fabrics – Chiffon-like fabrics are also available, which are much cheaper but also lack the smoothness and texture of chiffon.Organza and Georgette come closest, but there are subtle differences. Organza is stiffer and unlike chiffon’s shimmery texture, it posses a matte appearance. Georgette is thicker and less sheer than chiffon.