Sustainable Fashion

Every Type of Jeans Compared

Learn how small changes in cut, fit, rise, and other measurements create distinctive jeans styles. Which is your favorite?

Every Type Of Jeans Featured

Different types of jeans use small changes in cut, fit, rise, leg length, leg opening, and other measurements to create distinctive styles and silhouettes, including Straight Leg, Skinny, Slim, Bootcut, and Flared. These adjustments, even small ones, affect how you look in your jeans and how you pair them with other clothes.

Many of the types of jeans we describe below overlap and often, more than one term will be applicable to the same pair of jeans. Where possible we have indicated when different types are related and how they interact.

For ease of reading, you can click this list to navigate straight to a specific section:

What Makes One Jeans Style Different From Another??

A distinct type of jeans is one that is distinctive from another in one or more of the following measurements:

  • Cut – The leg shape (e.g. fitted or flared)
  • Fit – How tight the jeans are around the seat and thighs (e.g. slim, regular, or relaxed fit jeans)
  • Rise – The location of the waistband (e.g. low-rise, medium-rise or high-rise jeans)
  • Leg length – Where the end of your jeans hit (e.g. regular, ankle, or cropped jeans)
  • Leg opening – How the shape of the jeans changes as you move down the leg (e.g. tapered, regular, or boot cut jeans)

Additionally, jeans may also differ in the type of denim used (e.g. raw, stretch, or selvedge denim) and the color, wash, and finish (e.g. colored, distressed, or acid wash jeans).

Types of Jeans by Fit & Cut

The main styles of jeans, including skinny jeans, slim fit jeans, and straight leg jeans, are differentiated by their fit and cut. Wearing a different style can dramatically change your look, even though the size of the jeans remains the same:

Straight Leg Jeans

Straight leg jeans run straight to the bottom of the leg, without any tapering or flaring. This means that on a straight leg jean, the leg opening and knee measurements should be the same.

Straight leg refers to the cut of the jean, not the fit or rise, so a pair of straight jeans could have a slim, regular or relaxed fit, and a low, medium or high rise.

The consistent width means straight fit jeans will feel snugger round the thigh, but looser towards the ankle. This is true even if they are marketed as slim straight jeans.

Regular Fit Jeans

Regular fit jeans are what most people think of as normal everyday jeans. They are neither slim nor loose and are designed to fit comfortably on the average person. A typical pair of regular fit jeans will have a slight taper unless it is specifically mentioned that they have a straight leg.

Slim Fit Jeans

Slim fit jeans sit closer to your body than regular fit jeans, although they do not hug it as tightly as skinny jeans. Slim cut jeans can be straight or tapered, and often have a low rise so they sit further down than regular fit jeans.

Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans sit very close to your body, and will feel snug from your thighs all the way down to your ankles. They feature a significant taper in the legs and are normally made from stretch denim to enable the wearer to get them on. They can feature a low, mid or high rise, and are typically full-length, although skinny crop jeans are also popular.

Skinny jeans are similar to drainpipe jeans, which also sit snugly across the upper legs. However, drainpipe jeans have a straight leg rather than a tapered one.

Relaxed Fit Jeans

Relaxed fit jeans are looser than regular fit jeans, offering more space in the seat and upper and lower leg. They are comfortable to wear and suit a more casual style.

Loose Fit Jeans

Loose fit jeans, or baggy jeans, are very loose across the seat, thighs and lower leg, although they should still fit properly at the waist. They are looser than relaxed fit and considered very casual. Women’s loose jeans are typically marketed as boyfriend jeans.

Tapered Jeans

Tapered jeans can refer to any pair of jeans that has a tapered leg. A tapered leg is when the leg opening is smaller than the measurement at the knee. Tapered jeans can range from regular fit jeans with a slight taper through to slim and skinny jeans.

Bootcut Jeans

Bootcut jeans are are designed to be worn with boots. The legs on a pair of bootcut jeans flare towards the ankle, enabling the wearer to fit boots under the jean leg. Boot cut jeans typically have a leg opening of between 18 and 20 inches, which is smaller than the leg opening on “flared jeans” or bell bottom jeans.

Wide Leg Jeans

Wide leg jeans are a loose jeans style, featuring a flare that starts around the thighs and continues to the ankle, making them loose around the whole leg. This is different to flared and bell bottom jeans where the flare starts below the knee.

Flared Jeans

Flared jeans are slim fit until the knees, after which they flare out. The size of the leg opening is at least 21 inches. The leg length is long, and the hem of a pair of flared jeans should sit just above the ground.

Kick Flare Jeans

Kick flare jeans are similar to flared jeans, except they are cropped to end above the ankle, instead or coming down close to the floor. Because the hem is much higher up the leg, the flare appears subtler.

Bell Bottom Jeans

Bell bottoms are jeans with an extreme flare that causes the bottom of the leg to pool around the foot of the wearer.

Split Hem Jeans

These jeans feature a slit at the bottom of the leg either at the front or the side, enabling the wearer to better show off their shoes. The fit and cut is similar to flared jeans, with a slim fit around the thighs and a flare at the base of the leg.

Mom Jeans

Mom jeans have a high rise and a loose fit around the seat and thighs. They also feature tapered legs which normally cut off above the ankles. They are often worn with a rolled hem.

Boyfriend Jeans

Boyfriend jeans have a mid rise and a loose fit which extends down through the legs without tapering. The leg length goes below the ankle, often to the ground.

Girlfriend Jeans

Girlfriend jeans are similar to boyfriend jeans, but they sit tighter and higher. They feature a mid-high rise and a regular fit, with a tapered leg.

Drainpipe, Stovepipe & Cigarette Jeans

Drainpipe jeans feature a slim or skinny fit with a straight leg. These are tight jeans that fit snugly on the thighs but offer a little more room around the lower leg. They are also known as cigarette jeans, stovepipe jeans, and pencil jeans.

Cargo Jeans

Cargo Jeans have a loose fit and cargo pockets on the legs, and are reminiscent of military combat trousers. Because of the extra pockets, they are normally considered functional and practical rather than stylish.

Carpenter Jeans

Carpenter Jeans are another functional type of jeans. They have a loose fit and feature extra pockets. In particular, carpenter jeans are characterised loops of denim called hammer loops, which are designed to hold a hammer without the aid of a tool belt.

Types of Jeans by Rise

The rise is the location of the waistband on a pair of jeans, and is measured by the distance between the crotch and the top of the waistband.

High-Rise Jeans

High-rise jeans (aka high-waisted jeans) are jeans with a front rise measurement of at least 10 inches, which means they sit above your natural waist and cover your belly button. This has the effect of making the wearer’s legs appear longer and their torso shorter. A popular example of high-rise jeans today are mom jeans, which feature a high waist and a relaxed fit.

Mid-Rise Jeans

Mid rise jeans have a front rise of between 8 and 9 inches, and sit at your natural waistline, under your belly button but above your hips.

Low-Rise Jeans

Low-rise jeans have a front rise of between 7 and 8 inches. They sit on your hips, well below your natural waistline.

Ultra-Low Rise Jeans

Jeans with a front rise of less than 7 inches are classified as ultra-low rise, and can have a rise as small as 5 inches or less.

Types of Jeans by Leg Length

The length of the inseam of a pair of jeans can vary, giving rise to a few different types of jeans. It is worth noting that these terms are somewhat interchangeable and brands may use different terms for similar looking jeans:

Cropped Jeans

Cropped jeans have a shorter leg length that ends above the ankles, up to the mid-calves. The term cropped refers to the leg length, which can be applied to almost any style of jean including straight and ones with a tapered leg opening.

Capri Jeans

Capri jeans have a significantly shorter leg than regular fit jeans. The hem of a pair of capri jeans will sit anywhere from mid-calf to just under the knee, depending on the pair. Capri jeans with a short leg length are more likely to be slim fitting, to avoid appearing like long shorts.

Ankle Length Jeans

Ankle length jeans are slightly shorter than a typical pair, with a leg length that ends just above the ankles.

Types of Jeans by Denim Type

These jeans differ in the type of denim cloth used to create them:

Organic Jeans

A pair of organic jeans uses denim made from organic cotton, which uses fewer chemicals, less water, and less energy.

Raw Denim Jeans

Raw denim jeans are made from denim that has not gone through the washing, distressing and other processes that most denim jeans have been put through. They have a dark indigo color and are stiff to wear at first, but over time they develop high-contrast fade patterns that are unique to the wearer.

Selvedge Jeans

Selvedge jeans use denim produced on a shuttle loom, and can be identified by the white strip which becomes visible when the jeans are cuffed. Selvedge jeans are often made of raw denim (but not always).

Stretch Denim Jeans

Stretch jeans are made from denim that has been mixed with spandex (aka lycra or elastane). The addition of as little as 1% spandex makes the jeans considerably stretchier and more flexible than a typical pair made of 100% cotton denim. Stretch denim is used on jeans styles with a snug fit, such as skinny fit jeans.

Heavyweight Jeans

Heavyweight jeans use denim that weighs more than 16 oz. per square yard. They are more rigid and less flexible, but stronger than lighter-weight jeans.

Midweight Jeans

Midweight jeans are the most common weight of jeans, and most jeans will fall into this category. The denim used for these jeans typically weights between 12 and 16 oz. per square yard. These jeans are more durable than lightweight jeans but more flexible than heavyweight jeans.

Lightweight Jeans

Lightweight jeans use denim that is softer, more flexible, and less hard-wearing. The denim used weighs between 5 and 12 oz. per square yard. Lightweight jeans are more suited for summer wear and often have a light wash.

Types of Jeans by Wash

During production, denim can be subjected to difference washing processes to turn the dark indigo into different shades:

Dark Wash Jeans

Dark wash, or dark blue, jeans, retain much of the natural blue indigo color. Dark wash jeans look more formal than other jeans, although they are also worn casually.

Medium Wash Jeans

Medium wash jeans have undergone more washing making them lighter than dark wash jeans. They are more casual in look, although they can be suitable for some workplaces.

Light Wash Jeans

Light wash jeans are significantly lighter than medium and dark-washed jeans. These are always casual.

Acid Wash Jeans

Acid wash jeans have a mottled appearance with contrasting light and dark patches. This is achieved by adding chlorine to the washing process to bleach them (not acid, as the name suggests).

Stonewashed Jeans

Stonewashed jeans are stone washed – literally washed with stones (often pumice). Stone washing creates a worn, aged effect that minimizes the look of extended use in a new pair of jeans. These jeans start off faded, so will fade less than a typical pair off non-faded jeans. As with other types of wash, stonewashed jeans can be any other fit or style.

Dirty Washed Jeans

These distressed jeans have a ‘dirty’ brown effect which make them look messy.

Colored Jeans

In addition to the typical blue or black denim jeans, different dyes, washes and bleaches can be used to achieve almost any colour, including white, yellow, green and orange.

Types of Jeans by Finish

Once a pair of jeans has been finished, it can be modified and distressed to create new looks:

Distressed Jeans

Distressed jeans can cover any jeans that have been purposefully used. Distressing techniques include ripping, stonewashing, sandblasting, bleaching, and more. Often a manufacturer will combine several of these techniques to create a unique look.

Ripped Jeans

Ripped jeans are deliberately damaged to create ripped areas and holes. Manufacturers use lasers to achieve this at scale to enable the rips to be placed exactly where they want them.

Sandblasted Jeans

These jeans are literally blasted with sand using an air compressor to give them a worn look. This type of distressing has been linked with significant health problems with the workers that perform the task, and we recommend you no longer purchase this type of jeans.

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James Evans

James is a copywriter based in the UK. He writes on sustainability, finance, tech, and anything else that interests him. He likes tea.

Sustainable Fashion

Can I Wear Wide Fit Shoes With Normal Feet?

Learn 5 tips to help wide fit shoes fit your normal feet comfortably.

Wide Fit Shoes For Normal Feet Featured

Did you fall in love with a pair of wide fit shoes, but you have typical-width feet?

The good news is, you can often get away with wearing wide fit shoes with normal feet by using insoles or thick soles, and shoes with laces and slim-fitted uppers can also feel comfortable even if they are too wide.

However, wearing wide shoes that don’t fit your feet may lead to improper support, sore feet, and blisters. Below, we discuss 5 ways to make wide shoes fit typical-width feet comfortably. Let’s get started:

1. Insert Insoles

Insoles and footbeds are designed to accommodate wider feet, flat feet, high arches, and other shapes and needs. If you have typical-width feet, add a pair for footbeds so your feet will be supported even if you’re wearing a wide width shoe. 

A woman uses bright yellow insoles to help her wide fit shoes fit better
Insoles can help too-wide shoes fit snugger and more comfortably

If you have average width feet and often feel soreness near the ball of your foot, you may need additional support in the toe box area, especially if you are fitting standard feet in a pair of shoes with a wide toe box or bridge. 

Our Recommendations:

  • Performance Medium With Met Pad: These orthopedic-approved ReCORK footbeds are designed to mold to the unique shape of your foot. They promote natural foot alignment, reduce pain, and fit any shoe size.
  • Cascadia High Arch Insoles: Whether you wear wide fit shoes or medium width shoes, Tread and Butter insoles are designed for all-day comfort! These insoles may just be the extra layer of cushioning you need to wear wider shoes. 
  • The Classic Insole: Fulton insoles are designed by doctors — built for custom comfort. These insoles are widely popular in treating back, knee, and foot pain. Even if you have narrow feet and wear shoes made for wide feet, Fulton insoles will provide proper support and reduce your pain.

2. Wear Thick Socks

If you have wide fit shoes but narrow feet, add a pair of thick socks, which will better prevent your feet from slipping and rubbing. Similar to when you’re trying to make big shoes fit smaller, cushioned socks act as a secondary lining for your shoes. 

Look for companies that use cruelty-free, ZQ-Certified Merino wool or other breathable materials so that your feet will feel snug & comfy without feeling stuffy & sweaty. 

Our Recommendations:

  • Women’s Hike Light Cushion Low Ankle Socks: The 4 Degree Elite Fit System in these Smartwool ankle socks prevents socks from slipping and your feet from blisters. With the lightweight cushioning, your narrow feet will feel extra comfortable in wide shoes.
  • Lightweight Merino Performance Anklet Socks: These lightweight ankle socks by Patagonia are perfect for running, hiking, and everyday activity! These lightly cushioned, RWS-Certified wool socks are made with animal welfare and customer comfort in mind!

3. Add a Pair of Heel Grips or Liners

Whether you have wide feet or not, heel grips can help reduce the space in your heels or dress shoes so that your shoes fit your feet more securely. However, sometimes heel grips are not enough — and when it comes to wearing heels, it’s not worth sacrificing balance and safety over style. 

Instead, if you’re consistently struggling to find shoes to fit your narrow feet, consider consulting a cobbler for resizing options — or use a service that allows you to customize your shoes! 

Our Recommendations:

  • Heel Grips: These heel grips by Vegetarian Shoes may be the quick fix you need to prevent rubbing, digging, or blistering in your favorite pair of pumps, stilettos, dress shoes, or high-heeled boots!
  • Design Your Shoes: Solely Original is an online shoe tailoring company where you can customize your unique style and shoe size! Whether you have narrow or wide feet, Solely Original gives you the freedom to design your shoes to be as unique as the step of your foot!

4. Avoid Slip-On Shoes & Opt For Laces Instead

Extra-width slip-on shoes are not the best for narrow feet because they offer very little support. By design, slip-on shoes slide easily onto your feet, making them easier to slide off. If your feet move around too easily in your shoes, it will lead to rubbing, irritation, and blisters. 

A pair of teal and white wide fit shoes with laces on a yellow background
Many shoes with laces can be made snug even when too wide

Instead, shop for lace-up shoe designs. If you prefer the simple, minimalist look of a slip-on shoe, look for casual sneakers with fewer eyelets to lace, exposing the upper bridge of your foot to create a cute, feminine look!

Our Recommendations:

  • Tree Skipper: These breezy boat shoes by Allbirds feature uppers made with FSC-Approved eucalyptus fibers and odor & moisture-wicking insoles. This breathable summer style is the perfect casual shoe whether you have wide or narrow feet.
  • Sixty Six Sneaker: These white slim-fitted sneakers by SeaVees are minimalist, sustainable, and versatile for every foot shape and style. Pair these chic white sneakers with a classic pair of denim jeans or your favorite dress.

5. Wear Shoes With Slim-Fitted Fabrics

Shoes made with laces and slim-fitted uppers will form around the bridge of your foot to create a customizable, comfortable fit. Fabrics like mesh, canvas, and recycled plastic are ideal when trying to find shoes that don’t depend on foot length or width to fit comfortably.

Look for casual sneakers with high-quality insoles and outsoles so you don’t have to compromise support for that sleek-fitted style.

Our Recommendations:

  • Canyon Night Blue: These Tropicfeel sneakers are extraordinarily comfortable for all foot widths! These sporty running shoes feature waterproof uppers, which are made with recycled plastic bottles — designed to flex around your feet while offering structured support. 
  • The Zilker (Men’s): Suavs’s slim-fitted footwear styles are made with moisture-wicking materials. The flexible uppers stretch around your feet to offer just the right amount of super while maintaining a minimalist chic look.


Whether you’re shopping for wide or narrow shoes to accommodate your comfort and unique style, consider orthopedic solutions like inserting a pair of SOLE insoles or opting for flexible fabric uppers. These solutions promote all-day comfort, and optimal general health and will leave you loving your shoes for a lifetime! 

Abby Lucy

Abby Lucy-Tucker

I am a writer, educator, and devoted environmentalist with a lifelong mission to serve our planet. My goal is to inspire a natural love and curiosity for sustainable products, companies, and lifestyle choices through my writing.

Sustainable Fashion

The 2 Sock Styles That Best Complement Sneakers (And 2 to Avoid)

Even the best sneaker can look bad if worn with the wrong socks. So what socks should you wear with sneakers?

Socks To Wear With Sneakers Featured

Sneakers are an easy, go-to shoe choice for most people. They work for everything from running errands to date night. But even the best sneaker can look bad if worn with the wrong socks. So what socks should you wear with sneakers?

Blue socks with triangle motif paired with white sneakers

The short answer? It depends on the style, color, and fit of your sneaker. Plus, you should consider the rest of your outfit, what you’re planning on doing, and what the weather is like when choosing what socks to wear with sneakers. Then, you’ll choose the most comfortable, stylish option possible. 

No matter what type, color, and style of socks you’re planning on wearing, you should always choose the best sustainable socks to reduce your impact on the planet. Read below for my style guide on the ideal socks to wear with sneakers for every situation!

The Best Socks to Wear With Sneakers

People used to wear sneakers just for comfort, even when they weren’t seen as fashionable. Now, sneakers are a stylish option for so many different occasions. But the socks you wear with sneakers can make the difference between a perfect outfit and an absolute dud. Plus, they should still be comfortable and breathable, too!

Taking all of that into consideration, here are the best socks to wear with sneakers.

Ankle Socks

Wearing an ankle sock with sneakers is a classic, middle-of-the-road option. Ankle socks are one of the most low-key and comfortable options. The low profile means your ankles and feet are protected from blisters without your socks becoming the star of the show!

However, if you’re wearing a high-top sneaker that comes above your ankle socks, try finding a longer style like a crew sock to protect your skin from rubbing. 

Crew Length Socks

If you want to wear socks that let you show off your personal style, crew socks are the perfect option. They come in so many different styles–from your classic white, half-length sock to fun, colorful crew-length socks. Plus, they’re especially great for when you’re wearing white sneakers to add some interest to your outfit.

Yellow socks with white sneakers and white trousers
The right socks will add interest to your outfit

When you’re wearing sneakers to work out, it’s really important to wear good quality athletic socks. It doesn’t matter if you wear long socks or short socks, as long as it’s comfortable for you. But the material matters a lot for workout socks. 

Bacteria thrive in damp, dark environments, so sweaty, covered feet need to be able to breathe. But most athletic clothing is made from “breathable,” synthetic materials like polyester or nylon, which are terrible for the planet

What is an environmentally-minded fitness-fiend supposed to do? Try a workout sock made out of materials like responsibly-sourced wool. It’s breathable, comfortable, and better for the planet.

What Color Socks Should You Wear With Your Sneakers?

Colorful socks are a great way to subtly show off your personality. But when does a socks color go from expressive to clashing? And what color socks work the best with which color sneakers?

Black or White Socks

Wearing socks in basic colors like black or white is great for everyday life with almost any color of sneakers. Some people prefer wearing black socks with black sneakers and white socks with white shoes but it can also create more visual interest to wear white socks with black shoes or vise versa.

Solid, black or white socks are also the safest choice for colorful or patterned shoes. A black sock is almost always going to go well with any color of shoe, but be careful with wearing a white sock with an off-white sneaker. It can make your shoe look dirty in contrast to the bright white.

White socks paired with white sneakers
White socks may make off-white sneakers look dirty

Choose different lengths of white or black socks according to where you’re going. If it’s a more casual occasion and sneaker, tall white or black socks can be cool, especially when wearing shorts. Tall, basic-colored socks also work well under more dressed-up looks like black suits. 

Colorful Socks

If you’re feeling fancy with some new sneakers, throw on a pair of patterned or bright-color socks. After all, life is too short to miss out on covering your feet in polka dots! Wear shorts to show them off even more.

Choose your socks color based on the season, your outfit, or the color of your shoes. Bright spring socks with white shoes is the perfect way to welcome in warmer weather. Fuzzy, darker socks will keep you warm and fit the cold weather!

Wearing a monochrome look is also becoming a more popular style choice. Choose the same color socks and shoes for a sleek, minimalist vibe.

However, bright socks aren’t the right socks for every pair of sneakers. If you’re wearing bright or patterned shoes, stick to more basic socks to avoid clashing.

Avoid These Sock Styles When Wearing Sneakers

Keep your feet comfortable and your outfit stylish by avoiding these socks on certain occasions!

Knee High Socks

While it may be popular for schoolchildren to wear knee-high socks with their school shoes, it’s not the best look with sneakers for adults. 

The only time a pair of super long socks with sneakers are appropriate to wear is in the winter. They could provide some extra warmth to your legs while wearing pants. Try them in a wool material to keep your lower half extra toasty!

Invisible Socks

You might think no-show socks would keep your feet cool on hot summer days, But it’s actually the opposite. If you wear no-show socks, especially with high-top sneakers, there’s nothing to wick moisture away. They also won’t keep your feet warm in the winter because they lack insulation. 

Plus, a lot of sneakers are made from more abrasive materials like leather or synthetic textiles that can cause blisters, chafing, and irritation. If you are wearing invisible socks, there’s probably space along the top and back of your foot that will not be protected with a sock buffer.

However, no-show socks could be used with super low-profile sneakers if the socks are big enough to protect the top and back of your foot from the shoe. 

The Right and Wrong Sock to Wear With Your Sneakers: Conclusion

Ankle, athletic, and crew socks are the best style of socks to wear with sneakers. They will keep your feet dry, cool, and protected, while still being able to add style to your outfit. 

As for which color of sock you wear, it depends on the look you’re going for and your shoe color. Colorful socks can be a great way to express your personality while white or black socks can be more subtle and good for your everyday routine. 

The socks you should mostly avoid with sneakers are knee highs and no-shows. However, both of these types of socks are useful in certain situations. 

At the end of the day, as long as your feet are comfortable, protected, and looking good, you’ve got the right socks. 

Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.

Sustainable Fashion

How to Clean White Socks (Without Harsh Chemicals)

Learn how to return your socks to pristine whiteness without resorting to harsh chemicals

How To Clean White Socks Featured

There’s nothing better than a crisp, brand-new pair of white socks. But it seems like after just one use, they go from bright white to a dingy beige (and nobody wants beige socks). A regular wash isn’t enough to get them back to their brightest. So what are you supposed to do–throw them out every time they get dirty? No!

For both the planet and your wallet’s sake, there are multiple sustainable ways to get your socks back to bright white. You can clean white socks by soaking, boiling, scrubbing, or washing in cleaning agents like baking soda, oxygen bleach, lemon juice or vinegar, all of which can help return white socks to their former glory without the use of harmful chemicals. 

Woman wearing dirty white socks that are desperately in need of a clean!
White socks seem to pick up every piece of dirt they come in contact with!

To learn more about how to clean white socks and how to prevent them from getting so dirty in the first place, read below! Keep your dirty socks out of landfills and in your sock drawer where they belong. 

What to Use to Clean White Socks 

While your first thought might be to use chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide to whiten socks, it’s better for the environment and the fibers of your socks to use gentler, less toxic cleaners. 

1. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a miracle worker in the world of eco-friendly cleaning. You can use it in a variety of ways:

  • Soak your dirty white socks in warm water and baking soda for a few hours 
  • Add it to your washing machine before the wash cycle
  • Sprinkle your wet dirty socks with baking soda and scrub softly

2. Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach will remove dirt stains and get them to a fresh white again in no time. Plus, oxygen bleach is more eco-friendly and less irritating than chlorine bleach. Add it to your load of laundry (white clothes only!) or let your dirty socks soak in it for a few hours beforehand. 

3. Lemon Juice

The citric acid in lemon juice is non-toxic, antibacterial, and antiseptic! So not only will your white socks look fresher than ever, they’ll actually be cleaner than ever! Soak or wash socks in fresh lemon juice for fresh, white socks that also smell good. 

4. White Vinegar

White vinegar has acetic acid, which is a strong acid capable of getting stained white socks back to snow white. Whiten socks by soaking them for half an hour, or wash them in a mixture of white vinegar and laundry soap. 

5. Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent is an obvious part of washing white socks, but there are a few ways to use it to maximize its cleaning ability outside of the washing machine. Whiten socks with laundry detergent by:

  • Soaking them in a mixture of laundry soap and warm water 
  • Scrubbing wet socks with a brush dipped in laundry soap
  • Mixing regular laundry detergent with baking soda into a paste spread on top of stains

4 Expert Tips For Washing White Socks

Getting white socks clean isn’t always a simple cleaning procedure. Rather than just throwing them into the wash with your regular detergent, use the following methods to get the cleanest socks ever! 

1. Soak Them Before Washing

Giving your white socks time to soak in warm water allows a lot of the dirt to dissolve before you even pop them into the washing machine. You can soak them in water alone. Or for even more effective cleaning, add a small amount of laundry detergent or baking soda to the warm water. 

You can soak dirty socks for as little as 30 minutes or up to overnight in a plastic bag. Avoid leaving them wet for longer than that because mildew can start to grow in as little as 24 hours

2. Boil Your Socks Before Washing

For an even more powerful pre-wash clean, boil your dirty socks for about 15-20 minutes. For both whitening and deodorising, add half a cup of lemon juice or white vinegar to the pot. Once they’ve boiled for your desired amount of time, let them cool, and then add them to the laundry machine. 

This works very well on sport socks because boiling helps remove the oily sweat residue. On the other hand, wool socks should never be boiled. They need a more gentle washing process. 

3. Scrub, Scrub, Scrub

If your socks have dirt stains from mud or other caked-in substances, you’ll want to scrub them with a soft bristle brush to loosen them up. To avoid damaging the fibers, it’s best to gently scrub in small circles with a soft brush in a tub of warm soapy water. If the water gets too dirty, refresh it with clean water until it runs clean. Then, throw your socks into the laundry as normal. 

If you still notice stubborn stains after scrubbing, cover the stains in a paste made of baking soda and detergent for a few hours before washing. 

4. Wash White Socks Separately

While it may be tempting to throw all of your laundry in together, wash white garments separately. And depending on how dirty your white socks are, it may be best to avoid mixing your dirty white socks with your white clothing so the dirt doesn’t transfer in the wash. 

How to Prevent Your Socks From Getting So Dirty

Instead of having to remove stains every time you wash socks, learn how to keep them looking and feeling fresh!

1. Never Wear a Pair for More Than One Day

Trust me, I know how tempting it is to throw on yesterday’s socks again when you’re rushing out of the door. But the longer you wear them without washing, the more stubborn the stains and dirt are going to be. 

2. Keep Your Shoes Clean

If your socks are always getting dirty no matter what you do, check your shoes! Your insoles can get pretty nasty if dust, rocks, and dirt are slipping inside while walking. Clean your insoles with gentle soap and let them air dry in direct sunlight before putting them back into your shoes. 

3. Clean Your Floors

If you notice a pair of socks are dirty after a day spent inside, it’s time to get out the mop! Keep your socks white by regularly using eco-friendly disinfecting products on your floors, especially if you have kids or pets that tend to bring outside dirt inside. 

Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.

Sustainable Fashion

11 Sustainable Socks We’ll Be Wearing in 2023

Wearing sustainable socks is a great way to make an every day choice to reduce your impact on the planet! Here are our top 11 pairs for 2023.

Sustainable Socks Featured

Let’s talk about ~socks~ baby! Did you know that every day you could be making an easy choice to reduce your impact on the planet? When you think about living sustainably, your first thought probably isn’t about your socks. But it should be! 

Sustainable socks use organic or recycled materials and eco-friendly production practices for less impact on the environment. Plus, they’re more durable, so you’re not adding textile waste to landfills. Your socks may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but choosing sustainably is an easy way to help save the planet. 

I’ve found the 11 best sustainable sock brands, so you don’t have to. Whether they use breathable hemp or plant a tree for every purchase, these brands make socks that are eco-friendly and comfortable. So get ready to have your sustainable socks knocked off!

Quick Picks: The 4 Best Sustainable Sock Brands

If you’re having a foot emergency and need sustainable socks now, here are the best of the best! Our top four sustainable socks are:

1. Kind Socks – Fun and Ethical Unisex Socks for Every Occasion

Budget: $

Features: ethical manufacturing, non-toxic dyes, organic cotton, non-toxic chemicals, charity giveback program 

Range includes: unisex crew and ankle socks 

KindSocks Watermelon
Watermelon Socks by Kind Socks (Image by

Eco-friendly socks don’t have to be boring and Kind Socks is here to prove that. Founded with the belief that sustainable fashion isn’t a trend, but the only option, they have created two lines of fun, unique socks. 

Using only organic cotton, none of their socks have toxic chemicals like insecticides or pesticides. Also, their production facilities are ethically and safely run, paying fair wages to their workers. Plus, a percentage of their profits goes to a variety of charities around the world. 

2. Harvest & Mill – Cozy, Minimalist Socks Made With Organic Cotton

Budget: $

Features: organic cotton, grown and made in the USA, natural dyes

Range includes: men’s and women’s crew and ankle socks

A pair of cotton socks by Harvest Mill
Harvest Mill Organic Cotton Socks (image by

Harvest & Mill uses American-grown organic cotton to make luxuriously soft socks. Not only is their cotton grown in the US, they spin all of the fabrics and knit all of their socks in the US as well. This helps lower their carbon emissions because they don’t have to ship materials around the world. 

They also use different varieties of cotton for their colored fabrics, instead of harsh, toxic dyes. From a natural tan-green to a rust-red, you can find socks in a range of natural colors. That means you don’t have to worry about sensitive skin or throwing them into the wash!

3. Thought – Budget-Friendly Sustainable Bamboo Socks for the Whole Family

Budget: $

Features: eco-friendly materials like bamboo, recycled polyester, and organic cotton, vegan, zero plastic packaging 

Range includes: men’s, women’s, kid’s, and baby socks

Thought Semira Bamboo Pear Sock
Semira Bamboo Pear Sock (Image by

If you’re in the market for inexpensive eco-friendly socks for the whole family, look for further. Thought has a wide range of cute, comfy socks made with eco-friendly fabrics like recycled polyester and hemp.

Durable, anti-fungal, and made with anti-odor technology, you’ll never have to throw another smelly, hole-ridden sock away again! Plus, they’re vegan friendly, so no animals are harmed in the making of these cozies! And no worrying about shipping–all of their items come in zero-plastic packaging. 

4. Patagonia – Sustainable Athletic Socks That Last for Years

Budget: $$

Features: fair labor practices, sustainable fabrics like recycled cotton, renewable energy

Range includes: men’s, women’s, and children’s socks 

Patagonia Hemp Quarter Socks
Hemp Quarter Socks by Patagonia (Image by

For high-performance socks you can use for any outdoor (or indoor) adventure, Patagonia has you covered. They’re made from a unique blend of eco-friendly materials like recycled cotton, recycled nylon, and hemp for comfortable, durable socks. 

Made in fair trade certified factories, their socks are guaranteed to last you for years no matter what you put them through. Plus, Patagonia’s Worn Wear program means you can get your socks darned to keep them out of the landfills. 

5. Organic Basics – Vegan Eco-Friendly Socks You’ll Never Want to Take Off

Budget: $

Features: GOTS certified organic cotton, PETA Vegan approved, living wages

Range includes: men’s and women’s socks

Organic Basics Striped Socks
Color Striped Socks by Organic Basics (Image by

Organic Basics makes just that–basics made with GOTS certified organic cotton. Their socks are incredibly soft and comfortable, so they’re the ideal everyday pair. And because they’re organic, you don’t have to worry about any nasty chemicals left behind in the manufacturing process.

They take sustainability so seriously that even their default website is low-impact and shows you how much CO2 you’re saving. Plus, Organic Basics pays all of their workers not just fair, but living wages to work in safe facilities. 

6. Conscious Step – Organic Sustainable Socks That Give Back With Every Purchase

Budget: $

Features: charity give back program, natural materials like GOTS certified organic cotton, recycled materials 

Range includes: men’s, women’s, and children’s socks 

Conscious Step Socks That Plant Trees
Conscious Step’s Socks That Plant Trees (Image by

Conscious Step socks are comfortable, durable, and oh-so cute! They’re made with organic cotton and recycled polyester to reduce their impact on the planet. They use less water and electricity to make socks even softer than those conventional cotton ones you find in supermarkets!

If you want to find guilt-free socks, these are it. They’re vegan, fair trade certified, and a 1% For The Planet company. That means when you buy conscious step socks, they give back to causes like ocean conservation and tree planting programs. 

7. Colorful Standard – Organic, Sustainable Socks Perfect for Work

Budget: $

Features: organic cotton, PETA Approved Vegan, OEKO-TEX® environmentally friendly dyed yarn, recycled merino wool 

Range includes: men’s and women’s socks 

A range of colorful formal socks by Colorful Standard
Organic Socks by Colorful Standard (Image by

If you believe your feet deserve sustainable love, you’ll get along great with Colorful Standard’s comfortable, eco-friendly socks. Using organic cotton and OEKO TEX® eco-friendly dyed yarn, their socks are anti-pilling and perfect for work, lounging, and everything in between.

If you’re looking for an even cozier pair, check out their luxe and ethical merino socks. Made with recycled merino wool from old sweaters, these socks are Global Recycled Standard approved! And did I mention they’re cozy?

8. Boody – Sustainable Bamboo Socks That Stay Up All Day

Budget: $

Features: organic, ethically sourced bamboo fabric, transparent manufacturing process, low water use

Range includes: men’s, women’s, and children’s socks 

Boody Socks
Active Sports Sock by Boody (Image by

For lightweight, breathable socks, check out Boody! They make super soft socks made out of sustainable bamboo rayon. The best part? These socks are built to stay up all day, which means you won’t be bending over every ten seconds to yank your socks back up ever again! 

Boody has a seriously transparent business model where you can see the exact environmental impact of each item they sell. By using organically grown and ethically sourced bamboo, just one pair of their socks saves 132.9 hours of LED bulb energy and 82.7 liters of drinking water. 

9. Pact – Everyday Socks Made From Organic Cotton for Comfort and Sustainability 

Budget: $

Features: GOTS certified organic cotton, carbon offsets, recycled nylon

Range includes: men’s, women’s, and children’s socks

Pact Crew Socks
Pact Crew Socks (Image by

If you need ethical socks for the entire family, you’ll love Pact. Made with the unique blend of certified organic cotton and recycled polyester, their socks are soft, breathable, and durable. Plus, they have a special labeling system, so you don’t have laundry sock mixups anymore–one stripe for the kids, two for women, and three for men! 

Pact also purchases carbon offsets for their entire collection. For a pair of no-show socks, they send money to efforts like a wind power farm in India and a reforestation project in the United States. 

10. Allbirds – Cozy Sustainable Socks Made With Recycled Fabrics and Merino Wool

Budget: $

Features: carbon neutral, recycled materials like nylon, ethical merino wool

Range includes: men’s, women’s, and children’s socks

Allbirds Trino Cozy Crew
Trino Cozy Crew Socks by Allbirds (Image by

Do you want warm wool socks without having to think about animal welfare? Enter Allbirds. They made cozy, ethically and sustainably sourced merino wool socks aka the perfect ethical winter socks! Their socks are made with recycled nylon and polyester blended with merino wool for comfort and coziness! 

If you’re worried about how sweaty wool socks can be, don’t be. Allbirds add eucalyptus to their socks for odor-free and breathable wool socks. Plus, their entire operation is carbon neutral. They keep careful track of each product’s environmental impact and then balance the emissions. 

11. 8000Kicks – Breathable Hemp Socks For A Well-Rounded Sustainable Wardrobe 

Budget: $$

Features: premium hemp fiber, antibacterial and antimicrobial socks

Range includes: unisex socks

8000 Kicks Stripe Socks
Stripe Socks by 8000 Kicks (Image by

Hemp is well-known in sustainable fashion circles for its breathability, so it’s no wonder that 8000Kicks’ hemp socks are some of the most breathable sustainable socks out there! Known for their waterproof hemp shoe, they added a sock to keep your entire footwear collection sustainable. 

They use premium organic hemp to make their socks, so you don’t have to worry about any nasty chemicals like pesticides. Plus, they’re super durable, which means you won’t have to continuously cycle through packs of $5 bargain bin socks anymore.


It may seem like we’re splitting hairs when we talk about wearing sustainable socks. It seems like such a small, unimportant choice compared to the big problem of climate change. But when you support brands that use zero waste practices, recycled materials, or eco-friendly supply chain management, you’re sending a message to the rest of the industry. 

Start small or finish out your ethical wardrobe with the best eco-friendly socks! All of the brands mentioned above use sustainable practices to make cute socks that are good for you and the planet!

Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.

Sustainable Fashion

How Many Socks Should I Own?

Just how many pairs of socks do you really need? It may be less than you think!

How Many Pairs Of Socks Featured2

Rejecting the idea of cheap, replaceable, fast fashion in favor of high-quality, long-lasting, sustainable pieces is essential to living a more sustainable life. But buying just enough to live comfortably without being excessive can be a difficult balance to strike, especially with small items like socks. 

So how many socks are too many socks? The average person needs about ten pairs of socks in total. Having a balanced range of socks like dress socks, casual socks, athletic socks, cozy socks, and more depending on your lifestyle will ensure you have a sufficient number of socks for every occasion. 

For the best breakdown of the types of socks you should own, read below. Plus, I have tips for making your socks last longer and specific recommendations for each type of sock from the best sustainable sock brands! 

How Many Pairs of Socks Should I Own?

While the average person needs ten pairs, you might need more or less depending on your job, activity level, or location. I’ve broken it down into types of socks with recommendations for how many pairs of each type you should have keeping lifestyle in mind. 

Look Smart for Work? You’ll Need Five Pairs of Formal Socks

If you work in an office, you should have at least five pairs of formal socks. This means you’ll be able to do a full work week without having to scramble for a fresh pair of clean socks. 

A range of colorful formal socks by Colorful Standard
Organic Active Socks by Colorful Standard (Image by

How many pairs of socks do you need if you work in a more casual place? You should still have one or two pairs of high-quality socks for formal occasions like weddings or funerals. Nobody wants to be running around to the shops looking for a nice pair of socks hours before an important event!

For quality dress socks, check out Colorful Standard! They use organic cotton to make neutral and colorful socks that stay up all day.

Add 2-4 Pairs of Casual Socks

To wear with your casual sneakers, you should have a few pairs of everyday socks for casual wear.

A pair of Monstera Socks by Kind Socks
Monstera Socks by Kind Socks (Image by

Ideally, you’ll have one to two plain socks plus one to two colorful socks that express your personal style. Make sure to have both ankle socks and higher-cut ones that can fit comfortably under boots or higher-profile sneakers. 

Organic cotton socks from Kind Socks are great for every day because they’re cute and comfortable! 

Plus at Least a Couple of Pairs of Athletic Socks

Most people can get away with having about two to three pairs of socks you can be active in. Even if you’re not big into exercising, one or two pairs of socks you can hike or walk in won’t crowd your sock drawer.

A Pair of Patagonia Crew Socks
Patagonia 3/4 Crew Socks (Image by

If you live a very active lifestyle though, you should have enough socks to get through an entire week of workouts without having to do laundry or re-wear dirty socks. Nobody wants to put on sweaty socks before a workout!

I love Patagonia’s Lightweight Merino Performance Crew Socks! They’re great running socks because they wick moisture away quickly thanks to their responsibly sourced merino wool. 

Don’t Forget Cozy Socks for Winter

Cozy socks are one of life’s simple pleasures, so don’t miss out! If you live in a warmer place, you can survive with one pair of warm socks to wear on rainy nights. If you’re from a colder place, having three to four pairs will keep your feet warm all winter long!

A pair of cotton socks by Harvest Mill
Organic Cotton Socks by Harvest & Mill (Image by

Using merino wool performance socks as your cold weather pair is also a great option for people looking for minimalist wardrobes.

Harvest & Mill uses American-grown organic cotton to make the ultimate sustainable cozy sock! 

Add Other Pairs of Socks According To Your Lifestyle

Having enough pairs of formal, athletic, casual, and warm socks is sufficient for most people. However, people with certain medical conditions or lifestyles might need a few different types like:

  • Compression socks: pregnant people, athletes, people who frequently use wheelchairs, some people with certain medical conditions like diabetes or varicose veins, or people that travel a lot might want to invest in a good pair of compression socks. They help maintain blood flow and reduce painful swelling! 
  • Toe socks: for running socks that prevent blisters, try ones with individual toes! They’re great for endurance athletes like runners or backpackers.
  • Low profile socks: if you wear a lot of loafers or flats where normal socks show, grab multiple pairs of low profile ones that stay hidden.

Tips for Longer Lasting Socks

Now that you know how many socks you should own, learn how to make them last for years. Although it seems like a few pairs of cheap socks thrown out won’t make a big difference for the health of the planet, reducing the amount of waste you create is an important part of living a sustainable lifestyle. 

  • Invest in good quality socks! As tempting as those bins of cheap socks in the checkout line are, premium socks will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to replace them month after month. 
  • Learn how to darn! If you’re like me, your socks frequently get holes at the heel or toes. Instead of throwing them out, learn how to darn the holes! 
  • Buy multiple pairs of the same type! Do you have a ton of odd socks that don’t have a matching partner? Avoid it by buying packs of the same pair, so you’ll always have a match! Black socks and white socks are the best options for packs.
  • Hand wash your socks! So you don’t have to start a new laundry cycle every time you run out of socks, learn how to hand wash them. You won’t have to wait until your regular weekly cycle to have fresh socks. They’ll also last longer because it’s gentler than a machine.

So, How Many Socks Do You Actually Need?

There is no perfect answer for how many socks you need that fits everyone, but most people find that ten pairs of socks is just right! Depending on your workplace, workout regimen, climate, and more, you’ll want to have a balance of dress, athletic, casual, and cozy socks. 

If you prefer fewer socks or to have extra socks just in case of a foot emergency, that’s totally fine! Have as many pairs of socks as you need to live comfortably without unnecessarily buying socks or not wearing the ones you have. 

Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.

Sustainable Fashion

The 10 Best Sustainable Swimwear Brands for 2023

Our roundup of our top sustainable swimwear brands - click to get ready for summer!

Sustainable Swimwear Brands Featured

There’s nothing like a refreshing dip on a warm day. But conventional swimsuits use synthetic materials like virgin nylon that releases microplastics into the ocean as you swim. So what’s a sustainable swimmer supposed to do? Buy eco-friendly swimwear!

Sustainable swimwear brands use recycled fabrics to create swimwear that protects our oceans instead of polluting them. Plus, they use eco-friendly and fair labor practices to make swimwear you’ll be proud to wear! With billions of pounds of trash entering the ocean every year, everyone has to do their part. 

I’ve rounded up the best sustainable swimsuits from swimwear brands that use certified materials like regenerated nylon made from plastic waste like old fishing line. Shopping sustainable swim has never been so easy!

Our Quick Picks for Your Next Sustainable Swimwear Brand

There’s good news for sustainable swimmers! Many brands are getting the hint and finally creating ethical swimwear that’s good for you and the planet. Here are some of our favorites!

  • Best for Men: Patagonia – comfortable and classic swimwear made by one of the most ethical brands.
  • Best for Women: Girlfriend Collective – size inclusive, cute swimsuits perfect for swimming, water sports, and long walks on the beach.
  • Best for Fashion: Carve Designs – sustainable swimwear made in adorable patterns and cuts.
  • Best for Water Sports: Outerknown – created by pro surfer, Kelly Slater, Outerknown knows how to make suits that work with you, not against you!

1. BOLD Swim – Inclusive, Sustainable Swimwear Brand for All (Men’s & Women’s)

Budget: $$$

Features: Biodegradable Yarn, Oeko-Tex Certified, Toxic Dye-Free, Small-Scale Production

Range includes: Women’s S-XXXL, Bikinis, Swim Shorts, Cover-Ups, Swim Shirts, Men’s Trunks, One Pieces

BOLD Swim is a leader in making sustainable bathing suits that look good! They make all of their swimwear with Amni Soul Eco® polyamide yarn, which is both biodegradable and has a low environmental impact production. It’s also free of any toxic dyes or chemicals, so you don’t have to worry about leaving a trail of toxins while you swim.

BOLD Swim Amethyst Allium Textured Bikini
Allium Textured Bikini Set by BOLD Swim (image by

Plus, BOLD Swim uses small-scale production, which means very little waste left over. They also ship all of their gorgeous goods in compostable bags. And they offset their carbon shipping footprint by planting trees through their partnership with ecodrive.

Our top pick: the Amethyst Allium Textured Bikini Set is the jewel-tone bikini of your dreams!

Browse BOLD Swim

2. Summersalt – Eco-Friendly Bathing Suits Made From Recycled Fishing Nets (Men’s & Women’s)

Budget: $$

Features: Recycled Polyamide, UPF 50+ Protection, Chlorine Resistant, Size-Inclusive, Recycled Materials

Range includes: Men’s (S-XL), Women’s (0-26), and Kids Swimsuits (Infant-12), One Pieces, Bikinis, Swim Shorts, Cover-Ups

For cute bathings suits that are good for the planet, check out Summersalt. They make their swimwear with 78% recycled polyamide made from nylon waste like old fishing nets pulled from ocean waste. Also, they use packaging made with recycled materials!

Three women wearing Summersalt Sidestroke swimsuits at the beach
‘The Sidestroke’ by Summersalt (image by

A suit from Summersalt will last a long time thanks to their beach and UV proof fabrics. Their suits won’t wear out from sand, salt, sweat, or chlorine, even after 100+ hours of use, which means fewer suits going to the landfill every year!

Our top pick: you can’t go wrong with their iconic The Sidestroke suit, which was once called the “unicorn of swimsuits” by The Today Show!


3. Outerknown – Pro-Surfer Approved Sustainable Swimwear (Men’s & Women’s)

Budget: $$

Features: Fair Labor Practices, Living Wages, Recycled Polyester, Resale and Repair Programs, Transparent Supply Chain, Recycled Materials 

Range includes: Men’s Trunks (28-38), Women’s Suits (XS-L), Rash Guards, Bodysuits, Bikinis, One Pieces

Outerknown is a well-known sustainable brand and their swimwear line is no exception. Their circular business mode keeps clothes out of landfills with their resale, repair, and recycling programs. Plus, they use recycled polyester made from post consumer plastic bottles to make their swimsuits. 

Outerknown Apex Trunks by Kelly Slater
Designed by a world champion surfer! (image by

And if you’re concerned with the human impact of your swimwear, and not just the environmental impact, Outerknown will become a new favorite. All of their ethical production facilities are Fair Trade Certified™. 

Our top pick: The Apex Trunks were designed by 11x World Champion Surfer Kelly Slater himself!


4. Londre – Stylish Sustainable Swimsuits Made With recycled Textiles (Women’s Only)

Budget: $$

Features: Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles, Recycled Water, Repair Program, Oeko Tex Certified

Range includes: Women’s XS-5XL, One Pieces, Bikinis, Coverups

Londre makes all of their swimwear from at least 6 recycled plastic bottles, so you can swim easy knowing you’re helping keep our oceans clean! Plus, they recycle all the water used in production. And they’re only able to do that because there aren’t any harmful chemicals in it, a win-win!

Woman wearing a black Londre Minimalist Swimsuit in front of a plain background
The Minimalist – a true classic (image by

The center of their entire business model is sustainability including their repair program, which lets you keep rocking their designs longer! They also only produce swimwear in small batches to minimize waste. 

Our top pick: The Minimalist is a classic suit you could wear for years and never look out of style! 


5. Vitamin A – Sustainable Bathing Suits Made From Plant-Based and Recycled Materials (Women’s Only)

Budget: $$$

Features: 1% For The Planet, Recycled Materials, Low-Waste Materials, Renewable Energy Production, Recycled Nylon

Range includes: Women’s XS-L (including a D-cup size), Bikinis, One Pieces, Long-Sleeve Swim Tees

Vitamin A founder, Amahlia, didn’t take no for an answer when she first set out on creating swimwear from recycled fibers. After mills kept saying it was impossible, she made it herself with EcoLux™, made from recycled nylon. They also use other sustainable materials like linen, GOTS certified organic cotton, and hemp to make their swim apparel.

Model Wearing Rossi Long Sleeve Swim Tee in Black Superrib
This long sleeve swim tee is a stylish way to cover up (image by

Beyond using eco-friendly materials, they also produce all of their swimwear in factories with very strict environmental standards including reduced water use, minimized waste practices, and low carbon emissions. And they routinely give money to environmental projects like ocean conservation efforts to help keep the planet healthy. 

Our top pick: The Rossi Long Sleeve Swim Tee will protect your arms from a nasty burn while bumping your chicness up to a whole new level! 


6. Patagonia – Sustainably Made Swimsuits from Well Known Eco-Conscious Brand  (Men’s & Women’s)

Budget: $$

Features: Recycled Materials, Fair Trade Certified™, 1% For The Planet, Recycled Nylon, Certified B Corp

Range includes: Men’s (28-44), Women’s (XS-XL), Kids, Rash Guards, Board Shorts, Bikinis, One Pieces

You can’t talk about sustainable swimwear brands without mentioning Patagonia. They make high-quality bathing suits with recycled polyester, recycled nylon, and low-impact dyes. And they makes all of their sustainable swimsuits eco-friendly factories that emit fewer greenhouse gases and pay fair wages to their garment workers. 

Patagonia Mens Baggies Swim
Stylishly understated – Patagonia’s ‘Baggies’ for men (image by

Plus, not only are they part of the 1% For The Planet alliance, the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, actually started it. And as of September 2022, Chouinard transferred ownership of the entire company to a trust that fights climate change. 

Our top pick: the iconic Men’s Baggies™ Shorts are perfect for swimming, surfing, and suntanning. 


7. Do Good Swimwear – Eco-Friendly Surf-Ready Bathing Suits (Women’s Only)

Budget: $$

Features: Regenerated Nylon, Small Batch Production, Low-Waste Manufacturing, Repair and Recycle Program, Carbon Offsetting

Range includes: Women’s S-XL, Two Pieces, Rash Guards, One Pieces

Do Good Swimwear does just that with their ethical swimwear line made of ECONYL® yarn. This yarn is made of recycled post consumer waste nylon from trash like fishing nets and industrial plastics. They also use deadstock fabrics to keep textiles out of landfills. 

Surfer surfing while wearing orange Do Good Swimwear Jazzy High Waist Bottoms
Do Good’s Jazzy High Waist Bottoms in action! (image by

They consciously produce all of their ethical swimwear in small batches to avoid excess waste and ensure a high-quality, durable product. But if you do break a strap or snag a tear, their repair program allows you to get it fixed easily! 

Our top pick: for extra support and coverage, try the ultra-comfy Jazzy High Waist Bottoms!


8. Carve Designs – Sustainable Swimwear Made From Recycled Plastics That Look and Feel Great (Women’s Only)

Budget: $$

Features: Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Compostable and Biodegradable Packaging, 

Range includes: Women’s XS-XL, Bikinis, Board Shorts, Tankinis, One Pieces, Coverups, Rash Guards

Carve Designs makes their entire swimwear line out of recycled plastic bottles. In fact, one swimsuit uses five plastic bottles that would otherwise be in landfills or the ocean! For their apparel like swim shorts and coverups, they use other sustainable materials like coconut balsa, which is made from old coconut husks.

Model wearing All Day One Piece by Carve Designs
The All Day One Piece by Carve Designs (image by

As part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, they prioritize eco-friendly practices across their business model with 100% plant-based and compostable packaging.

Our top pick: for full on protection from the sun and surf, try the All Day One Piece!


9. Girlfriend Collective – Size Inclusive, Eco-Friendly Swimwear Made From Regenerated Nylon (Women’s Only)

Budget: $$

Features: Regenerated Nylon, Recycled Fabrics, UV Resistant, Size Inclusive, Ethical Production Model, Healthy Seas Partner

Range includes: Women’s XXS-6XL, Bikinis, One Pieces 

For a cute, sustainable swimsuit, Girlfriend Collective has you covered. Best known for their athleisure, they make comfy, supportive swimwear in classic styles from regenerated nylon. And for every swimsuit you buy from them, they’ll give 1% to Healthy Seas, a nonprofit that cleans up our oceans!

Woman wearing the Proven Palma Plunge Bikini Top by Girlfriend Collective in front of a plain background
The Proven Palma Plunge top by Girlfriend Collective (image by

Their business model puts sustainability first, which you can see on each product page with their individual sustainability report. You get to see how much oil was conserved, CO2 prevented, and energy saved for every cute bathing suit you buy! 

Our top pick: the Provence Palma Plunge Top is the ultimate sustainable bikini top — sexy, cool, and good for the planet!


10. Salomé – Sexy and Sustainable Swimwear Made in the Dominican Republic (Women’s Only)

Budget: $$

Features: Women-Owned, ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon, Chlorine and UV Resistant, Recycled Water

Range includes: Women’s XS-XL, Bikinis, Coverups, One Pieces

Ethically produced by women in the Dominican Republic, Salomé makes swimwear you can feel (and look) good in! Made with ECONYL® recycled nylon material, it’s super durable while still being ultra-soft. 

Woman wearing Salome Anacaonda Swim Top in a tropical location while covering face with giant leaf
Get tropical with the Anacaona Top by Salomé (image by

They put the planet first by reducing water usage, minimizing waste, and using recycled chemicals to keep their footprint as small as possible. Plus, when you buy from Salomé, you’re supporting the women who make their swimwear in the DR! 

Our top pick: for a flirty beach day with minimal coverage, check out the Anacaona Top!


Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.

Sustainable Fashion

Linen vs Cotton Fabric: Which is Best for Sheets and Clothes?

Learn about the differences between linen and cotton

Fabric Comparison Featured

Linen and Cotton fabrics are both made from natural fibers, and they’re both breathable, wick moisture well, and strong. But which is best for your clothes and sheets?

The main differences between linen and cotton are that linen is more durable and breathable, but has a rougher texture, while cotton is softer, stretchier, and retains heat better. Of the two, linen is more sustainable, although organic cotton is also a good choice.

Key Takeaways

Both linen and cotton are natural textiles

Linen is better at keeping you cool than cotton

Linen feels rougher than cotton, but softens over time

Linen is considerably more durable than cotton

Linen production is better for the environment than cotton (even organic cotton)

Below, we’ve compared linen and cotton on several different attributes, including comfort & feel, durability, care & maintenance, and production & sustainability.

We’ve then assessed how these factors may affect your purchasing decisions for bedding and clothes. Let’s get started:

Table of Contents

Linen vs Cotton Definition and Uses

Before we examine the differences in detail, let’s start with the basics:

Linen is a natural textile derived from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen fabric is known for its durability, breathability, and unique texture.

It is commonly used for clothing, particularly summer and resort wear, due to its exceptional ability to keep the wearer cool and comfortable in warm climates. Linen fabrics are also used for bedsheets, tablecloths, towels, and upholstery.

Cotton, another natural textile, is made from the soft fibers surrounding the seeds of the cotton plant. This versatile and widely-used fabric is renowned for its softness, comfort, and adaptability to various climates.

Cotton fabric is a staple in the fashion industry and is used for everything from t-shirts and jeans to dresses and underwear.

Cotton is also popular choice for bedsheets, towels, and home textiles. Its appearance can vary depending on the quality and type of cotton used, but it generally has a smooth, even texture that’s comfortable against the skin.

Linen vs Cotton: Comfort and Feel

Whether you’re wearing a shirt or in bed, the comfort of the fabric touching your skin is important. Let’s check out how linen and cotton measure up their softness, weight, and other factors that affect how comfortable they are:

Softness, Weight, and Thermal Insulation

Cotton fabric is known for its softness, while linen fabric has a slightly rougher texture – not exactly uncomfortable, but you notice the difference, although it does soften with use. In terms of weight, cotton fabric is generally lighter and less dense than linen fabric. This difference can be noticeable, especially if you’re sleeping under a sheet.

When it comes to regulating temperature, linen beats cotton. Linen fibers are woven looser than some other fabrics, which contributes to its excellent breathability and heat conductivity, helping to keep you cool when its hot. Cotton also boasts good breathability but retains heat more than linen, making it a more suitable choice for cooler seasons.

Moisture Absorption, Breathability, and Drying Time

Both linen and cotton excel in moisture absorption: linen fibers can absorb about 20% of their weight in water, while cotton fibers can absorb about 25% of their weight in water. You might assume cotton is superior to linen in humid conditions, but absorption alone does not tell the full story.

Although is doesn’t absorb quite as much moisture, linen has superior breathability and moisture-wicking; because its loosely woven, linen allows more airflow. This means that it dries quicker, so your sheets and clothes are less likely to feel damp in humid conditions.

Verdict: For Comfort, Linen vs Cotton is Down to Personal Preference

Linen’s excellent breathability and moisture absorption, makes it more ideal for hot, humid conditions, while cotton is a little better at keeping you warm. But for most people, it will come down to the texture – the smoother feel of cotton textile perhaps giving it a slight edge over linen.

Linen vs Cotton: Durability

When it comes to comparing the durability of linen and cotton, we’ve examined several factors, including tensile strength, resistance to staining, and resistance to wrinkling. Let’s see how these attributes (and more) affect the durability of linen and cotton:

Tensile Strength, Abrasion Resistance, and Elasticity

Linen fabric is known for its impressive tensile strength, both dry and wet, making it a more robust fabric compared to cotton. This strength translates into excellent abrasion resistance, meaning linen can withstand wear and tear better over time. Cotton, while still a durable fabric, may not offer the same level of resilience as linen.

In terms of elasticity, cotton fiber takes the lead. With its natural stretchiness, cotton textiles will maintain their shape and recover from deformation better, which is particularly useful in clothing. Linen fabrics are much less elastic than cotton ones and may not bounce back as quickly from being stretched or deformed.

Pilling Resistance

Linen is also more resistant to pilling than cotton, because it has longer fibers and is more resistant to abrasion, although the difference is minor and can be mitigated by buying high-quality cotton. Egyptian cotton, for example, has particularly long fibers.

UV Resistance, Colorfastness, and Mold & Mildew Resistance

Neither linen nor cotton resist UV rays as well as synthetic materials. They won’t hold their colors as well as these materials either, although they do not perform badly at this, with linen having an edge over cotton. The length your color holds is more likely to come down to how your garment is manufactured and how well you care for it.

As natural fibers, both linen and cotton can absorb a lot of water, making them susceptible to mold and mildew. Here, linen’s antibacterial properties give it an edge, although as long as you’re storing your clothes correctly this should not be an issue.

Verdict: Linen Beats Cotton for Durability

Linen’s superior tensile strength and abrasion resistance give it a win here. Given proper care, linen clothes and sheets are likely to outlast cotton clothes or sheets, although cotton is no slouch, particularly if it’s high-quality.

Care and Maintenance of Linen and Cotton Clothes

Caring for your linen and cotton clothes and bedsheets is essential to ensure their longevity and preserve their appearance, but which is easier to care for? In this section, we’ll compare these fabrics on washing, drying, stain resistance, wrinkling, shrinking, and fading.

Remember: these fabrics are often blended with others, and this can affect their care instructions. Always check the label!

Washing and Drying

When it comes to washing, both linen and cotton require gentle care. Linen should be washed in cold or lukewarm water using a mild detergent, and it can be machine-washed on a gentle cycle (check the label first).

Cotton is also best washed in cold water and can usually be machine-washed, but it’s essential to follow the care instructions on the garment’s label. Keep in mind that linen and cotton may shrink when exposed to high temperatures, so always opt for cold water when washing both fabrics.

When drying linen, it’s best to air-dry it flat or hang it, as it can become stiff when machine-dried and not all lien is tumble dry safe. Cotton can often tumble-dried on low heat, but air-drying is the gentlest and most energy-efficient option. Avoid high heat for both.

Stain Resistance, Wrinkling, and Fading

Both linen and cotton are prone to wrinkling, although linen particularly so. However, their distinct textures can make these wrinkles appear differently – and linen comes off better (at least in, in our opinion!). Linen’s natural creases often lend a casual, relaxed look, whereas cotton wrinkles appear more dishevelled. Both fabrics also stain easily, although with prompt action you should be able to get most stains out of both.

When it comes to colorfastness, both linen and cotton can lose color over time, either through washing or direct sunlight, but proper washing and drying techniques will help to maintain their vibrant colors. Always follow the care instructions on your garment’s label and avoid using harsh chemicals or exposing the fabric to direct sunlight for extended periods, as this can cause fading.


Both linen and cotton can shrink when exposed to high temperatures. To minimize shrinkage, always wash and dry your garments according to their care labels, and avoid using high heat. If you need to iron your linen or cotton items, use a low heat setting and iron them while they’re still slightly damp to avoid damaging the fibers.

Verdict: Cotton Is Slightly Easier to Care For Than Linen

This is a close one, but cotton edges it. Cotton is slightly less prone to wrinkling than linen and is more likely to be machine-washable.

Production & Environmental Impact of Linen and Cotton Production

We believe it’s important to choose fabrics not just on how they feel, but also how they affect our planet. Let’s see how these two natural fibers measure up:

Material Sourcing and Water Consumption

Linen is made from flax fibers, a hardy plant that can grow in less-than-ideal conditions are quires minimal water and pesticides during cultivation. In contrast, cotton plants require a lot of water, especially when grown in non-ideal conditions. Non-organic cotton relies heavily on irrigation, which can contribute to water scarcity and environmental stress.

Chemical Usage and Energy Consumption

Linen production generally uses very few chemicals, as flax requires little or no pesticide and herbicide application and no chemicals are required to create linen from flax.

The cotton industry is notorious for its heavy use of pesticides and insecticides, which can contaminate water sources and harm ecosystems. The only exception is organic cotton, which is produced using fewer chemicals.

When it comes to energy consumption, both linen’s requirements are again significantly lower. One kilogram of linen requires 10 MegaJoules to produce, while one kilogram of cotton requires 60 MegaJoules to produce. Cotton still uses less energy than many synthetic fabrics however.

Waste Generation and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Both linen and cotton production generate some waste, including plant residues and byproducts from processing. Linen and cotton waste is sometimes repurposed, and both these natural fibers are biodegradable (see below)

Cotton production, due to its extensive use of fertilizers and pesticides, contributes to higher greenhouse gas emissions than linen production. Flax cultivation has a smaller carbon footprint, as it requires fewer inputs and generates fewer emissions.

Recyclability and Biodegradability

Both linen and cotton are recyclable and biodegradable, making them more environmentally friendly than synthetic fabrics. However, the recycling process for textiles can be complex and depends on the availability of facilities and technology. Biodegradability is an advantage for both fabrics, as they can break down naturally in the environment, reducing their long-term impact.

Sustainable Alternatives and Industry Initiatives

Organic cotton offers significant environmental benefits over standard cotton, as it relies on natural pest control methods and organic fertilizers, reducing the need for synthetic chemicals.

Verdict: Linen Is More Sustainable Than Cotton

In conclusion, linen generally has a smaller footprint due to its lower water consumption, chemical usage, and greenhouse gas emissions. Organic cotton is much better than normal cotton, but at an increased cost.

Linen vs Cotton Sheets – Which Should You Choose?

So, which fabric is the best choice for your bed sheets? Overall, linen is the superior fabric, especially in warmer weather. Linen sheets will keep you cool and should last for longer. Linen bedding is also more sustainable.

In cooler temperatures, cotton sheets will keep you warmer – and there’s also the fact that cotton bedding feels softer, which will be a deciding factor for many. If you do go for cotton sheets, make it organic cotton.

Should You Choose Linen or Cotton for Clothing?

Linen clothes are better than cotton clothes at keeping you cool, and they’ll also last longer and more sustainable. However, linen clothing will wrinkle more than cotton ones. Because it’s more sustainable, we favor linen, however organic cotton is also a good choice.

Sustainable Fashion

Nylon vs Polyester: Ultimate Material Comparison Guide

Learn about the differences between nylon and polyester

Fabric Comparison Featured

Nylon and polyester are both synthetic fabrics made from petroleum products. Fabric made from nylon fibers is softer, stretchier, and has a better drape. In comparison, polyester is stiffer, but has much better breathability and moisture wicking. Both nylon and polyester fabrics are strong, easy to care for, and stay relatively wrinkle-free.

Check out the comparison table below:

Nylon vs Polyester Comparison Table

Other NamesPET (polyethylene terephthalate)
Made FromNylon is a synthetic polymer made from materials derived from petroleum.Polyester is a synthetic fabric made using petroleum products, although it is increasingly made from recycled plastic bottles.
AdvantagesStrong, lightweight, and easy to care for.Very high durability, with good breathability and moisture wicking makes polyester a very practical fabric. Can be mass produced at low cost.
DisadvantagesSignificant environmental concern.Significant environmental concern.
UsesUsed extensively in fashion to make a wide range of items.As a fabric, polyester is used widely in apparel and furnishings. Other uses include bottles and LCD displays.
Natural or SyntheticSyntheticSynthetic
Woven or KnittedEitherEither
Thread Count200-1000
WashingMachine washable in hot or cold water (check label for which one is best for your garment). May last longer if hand washed.Typically fine in the washing machine, but watch out for blends that need to be hand washed or washed in cooler water (always check the label first)
DryingMay wrinkle if dried in a dryer at hot settings. Opt for cooler settings or air dry.Normally fine in a tumble dryer with a low heat setting (check the label first)
IroningIron only on the lowest heat section without steam. Use a pressing cloth. Be careful because nylon can burn easily.Can be ironed, typically on warm settings. Turn it inside out and use a covering cloth and steam to reduce direct heat. Too much heat can melt the garment.
Wrinkle ResistanceDon’t tend to wrinkleDon’t tend to wrinkle
Heat RetentionMediumMedium
Moisture WickingMediumGood
BreathabilityPoorVery Good
Flammability (untreated)Medium (tends to melt rather than burn)High (tends to melt rather than burn)
Water-Resistance (untreated)MediumMedium
StrengthExcellentVery Good
Environmental Impact Score (A is best, E is worst)Virgin Nylon = E, Chemically Recycled Nylon = B, Mechanically Recycled Nylon = AVirgin Polyester = D, Chemically Recycled Polyester = B, Mechanically Recycled Polyester = A
Sustainability IssuesNylon is a plastic. It does not degrade and requires significant energy, chemicals, and waste to create. We recommend only using recycled nylon products.Polyester is a plastic. It does not degrade and requires significant energy, chemicals, and waste to create. We recommend only using recycled polyester products.

Sustainable Fashion

Microfiber vs Cotton: Ultimate Material Comparison Guide

Learn about the differences between microfiber and cotton

Fabric Comparison Featured

Both cotton and microfiber are widely used in fashion and furnishings (particularly bed sheets). Cotton is a natural fabric, while microfiber is made from plastics such as polyester and nylon. They have similar softness, heat retention, and moisture wicking, but cotton has superior breathability. Microfiber is stronger and more durable.

Read on for comparison table and full guide, including the final say on whether cotton sheets or microfiber sheets are better:

Microfiber vs Cotton Fabric Comparison Table

Other Names
Made FromMicrofiber is a very fine synthetic yarn made from either polyester or a polyester and nylon blend.Fibers from cotton plant seeds
AdvantagesSoft, durable and lightweight with good moisture wicking. Popular for athletic wear.Cotton fiber has superior wet strength and is a natural insulator. Cotton also has natural anti-microbial properties
DisadvantagesSignificant environmental concern. Must be washed seperately from cotton.Higher production costs than many other fabrics, particularly for organic cotton.
UsesApparel, particularly atheletic wear, furnishings and cleaning products – microfiber cloths.Cotton is widely used in clothing, including to produce popular woven fabrics such as denim, flannel, and canvas. Also used for bedsheets, towels, and upholstery.
Natural or SyntheticSyntheticNatural
Woven or KnittedEitherWoven
Thread Count200-1,800100-1000+
WashingTypically machine washable cold or warm water. Don’t use fabric softeners and use a separate load from other fabrics (particularly cotton).Typically fine in washing machine (always check the label first)
DryingIdeally air dry. If you use a dryer, don’t use heat, just spin.Often fine in tumble dryer, although shrinkage can occur especially if 100% cotton (check the label first). If unsure, air dry.
IroningWill rarely need ironing. Use a cool iron.Iron while damp (use a spray) on high heat
Wrinkle ResistanceDoesn’t tend to wrinkleWrinkles easily
Heat RetentionMediumMedium
Moisture WickingGoodGood
BreathabilityGoodVery Good
Flammability (untreated)Medium (tend to melt rather than burn)Very High
Water-Resistance (untreated)MediumPoor
StrengthVery GoodGood, especially when wet (cotton gets stronger when wet)
Environmental Impact Score (A is best, E is worst)Conventional Microfiber = E, Made from Recycled Polyester & Nylon = BConventional Cotton = E, Organic Cotton = B, Recycled Cotton = A
Sustainability IssuesMicrofiber is made from plastics. It does not degrade and requires significant energy, chemicals, and waste to create. We recommend using microfiber products made from recycled plastics only.Cotton growing can be pesticide and water intensive, leading to pollution. Less impact when grown organically.