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Is it better to wear white or black clothes in hot weather?

The belief that it’s better to wear light-colored clothing in the summer months is cause for debate, as there could be advantages to wearing darker clothes.

The belief that it's better to wear light-colored clothing in the summer months is cause for debate, as there could be advantages to wearing darker clothes.
Tomàs Moyà Europa Press

It has often been said that dark clothes are not recommended in summer, since they absorb more heat. One of the most common suggestions is that clothing with lighter colors be taken out of the closet for the sunny season. White clothes, in fact, are usually a staple when talking about a summer wardrobe. However, there is a contrary school of thought.

The phenomenon of convection is what could show that the common belief that summer clothing should be in light colors to feel cooler might have the opposite effect. Convection is the passage of heat from one element to another, such as the transfer from one body to another, due to the temperature difference that exists between these two elements.

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Why is it better to wear dark clothes in summer?

Wearing darker colors goes against the general belief which argues that white reflects the sun’s rays instead of absorbing it. Although this is true, another aspect that should be considered is that the human body is another factor in the emission of heat, since we generate thermal energy.

Arturo Quirantes, a professor at the University of Granada, stated on BBC Mundo that the color white “will tend to reflect body heat back to the body, while black will absorb it”.

In 1980, the magazine Nature published a study that demonstrates this explanation with the Bedouins as its central point. The nomadic tribes who inhabit the desert often wear long and wide tunics in dark colors. According to the study, if heat adheres to a black garment, it is lost before it can even stick to the skin. This explanation would point to loose-fitting, black clothing as a good option for summer.

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How the use of dark clothing affects body temperature

According to Quirantes, the white color reflects the sun’s rays, but does not allow body heat to escape as it bounces off the fabric of the clothing that is being worn at that moment.

However, dark colors, specifically black, have the opposite effect, especially if it is windy. Due to convection, the body temperature would be lower since the heat escapes thanks to the use of this type of color range.


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