What Is Artificial Silk?

by Barbie Carpenter ; Updated September 28, 2017

A woman is wearing a silky ball gown.

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Artificial silk refers to synthetic materials such as rayon that blend both natural and man-made fibers. Mimicking much pricier real silk, artificial silk fabric may be used to make a number of garments and is a more budget-friendly substitute for silk. Understanding more about the synthetic fabric allows you to determine when to opt for the artificial variety and when to purchase real silk.


Synthetic silk fabrics often blend with other textiles, including cotton, wool and even real silk. Artificial silk -- both alone and as a woven blend -- is a popular material in fashion. Many garments incorporate artificial silk: dresses, blouses, scarves and lingerie for women, as well as some shirts and undergarments for men.

Pros and Cons

Artificial silk is appealing not just because of its low price. Because it's synthetic, the material is more durable when dry than real silk. Artificial silk's smooth feel makes it comfortable against the skin. Additionally, this smoothness also means dirt does not cling to the material. However, artificial silk requires special care when laundered, as it has the potential to lose its strength or swell, which can damage the appearance of the article of clothing.

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About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.