How to Choose Breathable Work Shirts for Your Employees

Employees work more efficiently and effectively when they are comfortable, and that means their uniforms should match the nature of the job.  Conversely, employees may become more fatigued and suffer from impaired cognitive and physical performance when their clothes are uncomfortable or do not allow for proper ventilation. 

Make sure you always consider the need for maximum breathability when selecting a uniform for yourself or your employees. Doing so will ensure better performance and comfort.

Importance of Selecting Breathable Work Shirts

Selecting work shirts that are breathable is a key consideration for labor-intensive occupations or any work environment in which there is a likelihood of exposure to elevated temperatures. A work shirt that is breathable contributes to employee comfort, job satisfaction and productivity.  

Best Types of Materials for Ensuring Breathability  

The materials that are most breathable depend on the type of work environment. Because of heat, some jobs warrant material that is breathable. Other jobs need more breathable fabrics because of exposure to liquid, so the garment must be able to dry quickly. 

The following are some types of materials you may wish to consider to ensure your employees enjoy maximum breathability in their work shirts:

  • Cotton: Perhaps the most widely used material for most work environments, this natural fiber is both soft and breathable, providing comfort to employees. Cotton is beneficial for providing a high degree of air circulation; however, cotton does absorb moisture, so it may not be the best choice for people who sweat a lot because it can remain damp rather than wick moisture away from the skin. 

  • Polyester: This material is beneficial primarily for its durability, but it is also lightweight and provides an above-average level of breathability. Polyester is combined with other fibers to offer more durability than cotton. It is also highly wrinkle resistant, so it can be used daily with limited maintenance required. It’s not absorbent, so sweat doesn’t sink into the fabric.

  • Linen: This natural, lightweight material provides superior breathability. This material works well in hot climates because of its lightness. Because linen absorbs moisture, linen shirts tend not to dry particularly fast if they get wet, whether from sweat or spills.  

  • Nylon: This synthetic material provides good breathability. It also wicks moisture away, making it a popular option for work shirts in jobs where employees are active. Nylon is also highly elastic, which can allow employees to reuse the garments if they are cared for well. 

  • Rayon: This semisynthetic material is soft and provides a high level of breathability. Rayon is often combined with cotton to create for shirts that are comfortable, absorptive and that dry quickly if exposed to moisture. 

Tips for Selecting Breathable Work Shirts

When selecting a shirt for your employees, there are many additional factors to consider beyond the material. Design is another key factor because the way the uniform fits can affect its breathability. 

The following factors will likely influence your decision when selecting a work shirt for your employees:

  • Fabric: Consider the fabric based on the characteristics listed above. Choose a light material like cotton or linen for maximum breathability and a denser material like polyester if durability and reusability are priorities. Also consider your needs in terms of the material’s ability to dry quickly and wick sweat away.

  • Design and fit: Remember that a work shirt that is too tight will not provide a high level of comfort to your employees, even if it is made of a breathable material. Make sure the shirt is the right size and matches your employees’ size and stature. 

  • Aesthetic factors: Consider the color and style of the work shirts. Make sure they fit with your overall company branding. 

  • Brand reputation: Choose a uniform supplier with a solid history of customer satisfaction. It often makes sense to rent uniforms rather than purchase them outright. When you rent, the rental service will replace torn, soiled or worn work shirts, ensuring your employees always look professional and feel good. 

  • Employee feedback: Seek feedback from your employees who wear the work shirts. They will have the best insight into their level of comfort, and they may have helpful recommendations to consider when you are changing the choice of your work shirts.

Let Alsco Help

Let Alsco help with all your uniform needs. We offer uniform rental services, including work shirts. You’ll never have to worry about the condition of your employees’ work shirts when you partner with us.  

We also can handle your laundering so you always have plenty of work shirts on hand that are free of damage and stains. Dirty shirts are placed in a discrete storage bin, and fresh shirts are placed in designated areas to keep them in good condition until they are worn.

Call us today to learn more about our full uniform rental services.


Clothing and Textiles. (2023). Federal Trade Commission. 

Group 23: Apparel and Other Finished Products Made from Fabrics and Similar Materials. (2023). United States Department of Labor. 

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