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Are Silk and Satin the Same?

Are Silk and Satin the Same?

If you're interested in diving into fabric weaves and types, keep reading.

In short, the words “satin dress” and “silk satin dress” usually indicate the difference between synthetic and silk.

To put it bluntly, it’s an apples and oranges comparison.

 Silk refers to the material – an “ingredient” if you will.

Satin refers to the weave. A weave can be anything from twill to satin to velvet to herringbone. It describes the way the fabric was woven together.

Weave gives you a clue how the fabric will behave. Whether it will move with you and drape softly against your body (satin) or provide more shape and structure (twill or jacquard, for example).

A description of the weave can almost give you more information about the garment than the fabric can. While certain fabrics breath and others don’t – regardless of weave – a cotton denim jacket is going to be much more dense, thick, and structured than a cotton sateen jacket. Both are made of cotton, but the weave is different.

If we use baking with fruit as an example:

You need your main ingredient, such as: blackberries, blueberries, apples or strawberries. Let’s say these describe fabrics such as polyester, cotton, linen and silk.

From this fruit, you can make things like pie, muffins, fruit salad or crumble. These describe your weave, such as twill, satin, velvet, or jacquard.

Many are surprised when they learn that velvet is not a fabric, but a weave.

You can have rayon velvet or silk velvet, to name a few.

This goes for satin too. You can have polyester satin or silk satin. Though they are the same weave, their composition is different.

Many brands will sell high end satin dresses in the hopes that their customer will assume it’s silk. The price of the garment used to be a good indicator of what kind of fabric was used, but not as much anymore.

If a brand’s “satin dresses” are made from silk, it’s likely they will include that in the description and make it very obvious to the customer due to the high cost of working with silk. If you see a slip dress with the description of “satin dress” and you’re assuming it’s silk and that’s important to you, double check the description.

In short, the words “satin dress” and “silk satin dress” are usually the difference between synthetic and silk.

If there’s silk involved, the brand will make it obvious. This also applies to silk pillowcases and sleepwear that have become increasingly popular. If you’re looking for a silk pillowcase, don’t assume that the words “satin pillowcase” will give you silk.

While synthetic satin has come a long way in terms of quality – with many feeling very similar to silk – it is still a very different material than silk.

If this matters to you, the only way to know for sure is to check the label.


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