Fleece Clothing: What Is Fleece Made Of?
There are dozens of fabrics used in fashion today, like fleece, french terry, denim, linen, silk, and many more. Then there are all the materials we use to make our fabrics, like cotton, polyester, rayon, hemp, wool, and bamboo.
The result is that making informed fashion choices is more complex than ever before. Thankfully, with helpful guides like this one, you’ve got all the essential info at your fingertips.
Today, our Tasc Performance guide is focusing on fleece, a fabric that is favored in winter and cold climates but packs a punch year-round.
After we introduce fleece, we’re going to talk about the most important qualities you should know when adding it to your wardrobe. We’ve also got some awesome fleece styles to recommend!
What Is Fleece?
Fleece is a word that can mean numerous things. Until the 1970s, it referred to the wool coat of a sheep. Today’s meaning came along with the invention of fleece fabric by Malden Mills.
This first fleece fabric was called Synchilla fleece, designed to replicate qualities of a sheep’s coat and fur coats that humans wear, but with a lighter weight, better breathability, and less reliance on biological materials. The original designers still make their own Polartec fleece today, but now the fabric has evolved into many different kinds and forms.
The defining feature of fleece is its brushed finish, which gives the short-cut piles of fabric a soft, fuzzy, fluffy feel. The brushed side almost always touches the skin. Some styles, like sweatshirts and joggers, are only brushed on the inside, while others, like common fleece quarter-zip jackets, are brushed on both sides.
The soft feel of fleece is just one of many reasons it's so well-loved. Fleece is a highly versatile fabric, balancing insulation and breathability, along with moisture-wicking (when the right materials are used) and lightweight. Fleece is also durable and relatively easy to care for.
Thanks to these qualities, fleece is found in casual clothes, athleisure attire, outdoor sportswear, and even more formal fashion.
Are There Different Types of Fleece?
Fleece can be made from a wide variety of materials. Polyester is the most common, but others like sherpa wool, cotton, hemp, bamboo, and more can be used.
Different techniques for assembling the fabric (such as knitting vs. weaving) are applicable as well and can change how the fabric feels. For example, microfleece is the thinnest and lightest kind of fleece, with the most breathability and least insulation. Midweight and heavyweight fleece becomes warmer and less breathable.
Additional qualities like moisture-wicking may vary depending on the materials implemented, but the core traits of fleece that should be consistent across all kinds of fleece are softness and warmth.
Is Fleece Breathable?
Fleece is a perfect choice for harsh weather or cold climates thanks to its warmth, but for those living an active lifestyle, that warmth can become an issue when the fabric has no breathability.
Whether you’re on a casual hike or getting into an intense workout, your body builds up heat as you exercise. This heat becomes trapped in the air pockets of the fleece fabric, turning your clothes into an oven. If the fabric is breathable, fresh air can circulate into the clothes at a controlled rate, preventing overheating but still keeping you warm enough.
This fine balance is why fleece is so wonderful for cold-weather workouts and why many outdoor enthusiasts choose fleece for hiking, camping, and more.
How Insulating Is Fleece?
Insulation varies depending on the weight of the fleece you choose. Heavyweight fleece provides the most warmth, while lightweight fleece or microfleece provides the most breathability and least insulation.
Be sure to consider what kinds of activities you expect to do in your fleece clothes before deciding on a style.
Is Fleece Eco-Friendly?
Fleece has a reputation for being less than sustainable, but that comes down to the fact that most fleece produced today is made with polyester, an unsustainable synthetic fabric made from fossil fuels.
Although polyester never really breaks down, we can instead recycle existing polyester into new fleece fabric to help alleviate the stressors on our environment!
Natural, eco-friendly materials like wool, bamboo, and organic cotton offer the best alternatives. When made with such fabrication, fleece is among the most sustainable materials on the market.
What Qualities Does High-Quality Fleece Fabric Have?
Fleece can vary in quality depending on the materials and techniques used to make it. The best kinds of fleece use sustainable materials and have all the features below.
Keeping you warm is just part of fleece’s job. Keeping you dry is equally important, if not more so. That’s where moisture-wicking comes in.
A moisture-wicking fabric like bamboo fleece absorbs moisture from your skin (typically sweat), but doesn’t stop there. It also quickly passes the moisture through gaps in the fibers and out to the surface, where the moisture evaporates. Together, these processes keep you and your clothes dry, promoting better comfort and performance.
Resistant to Cold Weather
Along with moisture-wicking, insulation helps your body thermoregulate (maintain the right temperature) even in cold weather. Midweight and heavyweight fleeces are particularly effective in chilly environments, making them ideal for hiking, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities.
The softness of fleece is perhaps what makes it so famous. The fluffy, brushed fabrics create a luxurious, cozy feeling on your skin, which is made even better with naturally soft materials like bamboo or cotton compared to the relatively harsh texture of polyester.
The stenches created by sweat may seem to be alleviated with the help of the washing machine, but certain materials like traditional cotton and synthetic fabric actually trap odors, causing them to linger long after you wash them. The result is clothes that lose their freshness within weeks or months.
For durable, long-lasting, ultra-fresh fleece, look for naturally odor-resistant materials like bamboo that prevent this kind of odor buildup. Bamboo won’t stop you from stinking mid-workout, but it will keep your shirt and joggers smelling fresh after each wash.
What Are the Best Fleece Clothes To Buy?
Fleece is a super versatile fabric, so it’s only fitting that some equally versatile styles bring it to your wardrobe.
The design makes it super easy to style with just about anything in your closet: joggers or jeans, sneakers or boots, with an outer coat or on its own. High-performance fleece takes care of the rest, bringing year-round functionality to this perfect layering piece.
Jeans may have been the go-to 10 years ago, but the new kings and queens of closets everywhere are joggers. More comfortable than jeans (and more versatile and performance-minded than jeans or sweatpants), joggers balance all the best qualities of a day-to-day style.
If you haven’t yet tried this athleisure favorite, pick up a pair of our Varsity Brushed Lightweight Joggers for breathable fleece pants that are perfect for working out or lounging around.
If you’re looking for something even cozier but without sacrificing performance qualities like sweat-wicking and flexibility, give our Legendary Heavyweight Fleece Joggers a try.
Fleece hoodies like our Legendary Fleece Hoodie are an easy, cozy, and comfortable option for outerwear. With a breathable material like our Tasc Performance bamboo and organic cotton fleece blend, a hoodie fits any season and any casual occasion.
The Best Fleece Sportswear You’ll Ever Wear
Still doubting whether fleece is truly fitting for sportswear? Give one of our many innovative styles here at Tasc Performance a try to see how natural materials and modern designs can come together to elevate activewear to a whole new level.
For more informative guides on materials, sportswear, and lifestyle, keep checking back with our Tasc Life blog!