What Is Rayon? Here’s What You Should Know

Rayon is one of the most versatile fabrics around, yet it remains somewhat of a mystery. That’s partly because of its remarkable ability to shape-shift—not just literally, but also in terms of imitating other fabrics. Rayon has been known to take on the properties of silk, cotton, wool, and others, and can be used in nearly any type of clothing. This can make it challenging to pin down exactly what it is, how to launder it, and what type of weather it’s best suited for. To help boost your familiarity with this ubiquitous fabric, keep reading to see everything you need to know about rayon.

In a nutshell, rayon is a fabric made from purified cellulose fibers, which are typically created from wood pulp. Though rayon is derived from natural materials, it requires certain chemicals, so it’s considered to be a semi-synthetic fabric.

One of the most common types of rayon is viscose rayon, which has a lot in common with cotton. It’s breathable, moisture-absorbent, and a popular choice for casual and athletic wear. It also shows up in dresses, blouses, and outerwear. Secondary types of rayon include modal rayon (typically made from beech trees) and lyocell (seen in everything from denim to dress shirts).

Laundering rayon takes a little extra consideration. Rayon is often blended with other fabrics (such as polyester and cotton), so washing instructions can vary significantly. While its texture and versatility make it an ideal choice for a range of apparel, rayon isn’t a durable fabric, and standard machine washing can cause it to stretch, shrink, or bleed onto other articles of clothing. As a result, most experts recommend hand-washing rayon, but always be sure to check the care label instructions beforehand.

Reformation is a great place to shop for gorgeous pieces made of rayon.

The perfect shirt for going back to the office (and everything else).

This color is a dream.

A lightweight cardi for your summer-to-fall looks.

A versatile white button-down is always a win.

The perfect early-fall skirt, found.

This is begging to be taken on vacation.

Zoom in to see how good this print is.

You’re going to want to wear these a lot.

We can’t get over how cool this looks on.

Pro tip: Pair it with a chunky sweater for fall.

Swap your basic black blazer out for a little something different.

And suddenly we need a card-print dress.

This top is surprisingly versatile.

The fit and color are excellent.

Love this tiered dress with knee boots.

Perfect for all of your baggy jeans.

A minimalist’s dream.

What’s not to love about this subtly groovy print?

It comes in chocolate brown too.

One of Reformation’s best tops at the moment, in our opinion.

You’ll probably wear this for years.

Chicer than sweatpants but just as comfortable.

This should please all the lovers of ’90s fashion out there.

This looks so buttery soft.

Next, see the tricks to stretching out your favorite pair of denim.

This story was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated.

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