Uniqlo Airism for Women

Mon Oct 08, 2018 · 6 min read

travelgear review

Uniqlo’s Airism line is a favourite among one-bag nomads for its exceptional light weight and packability. In searching for information about how well this clothing worked for other female nomads, I overwhelmingly found reviews for just the men’s underwear and T-shirts. Uniqlo Airism for women is apparently an under-explored subject - so like a good adventurer, I decided to try it for myself.

Japan’s popular Uniqlo stores have become much more accessible since the opening of many overseas locations in recent years. I really admire the overall simplistic approach to their fashion, as this simplicity lends itself well to my general minimalist, double-duty philosophy. I tend to choose very versatile, timelessly styled clothing that is suitable for the situations I typically put myself in.

Uniqlo store

When I paid a visit to Uniqlo, I found the Airism line items packaged in neat sealed bags. Since this line is considered by the brand to constitute under-clothing, it’s sold similarly to underwear. To try on one of the shirts, you ask for it in the fitting room, or pick up a sample item on a hanger near the packaged goods.

Since I primarily stay in warm climates, sleeveless tops are a staple item of my travel capsule wardrobe. I also only wear all black. This colour choice works out in my favour in the case of Uniqlo’s sleeveless top, as I discovered when I tried on the white sample in the dressing room…

Trying on the white, almost-see-through top in the dressing room

I can hear my mom in my head, “You’re not going out in that!

The above photo is of a North American size S (my usual size). I tried going up to size M when I was in Japan, with only a slightly different result.

The Japanese size M top in heather gray

The grey is a better light colour choice, IMO.

The black color in size S, thankfully, looks just like a regular tank top.

Uniqlo sleeveless top black color in size S

There’s also a version of the sleeveless top with a padded bra built into the front. I found this to be the most comfortable one, though the bra provided more coverage than actual support.

Uniqlo's sleeveless top with built-in bra

I took home the regular bra-less black version and wore it regularly for a couple weeks. During that time, I put the top through a few tests to evaluate some claims I’ve heard about Airism clothing. The claims are:

  1. It’s lightweight and packs down really small
  2. It wicks sweat
  3. It dries quickly after sink-washing
  4. It’s really comfortable

First, the fit

I tend to wear fitted tops - even so, my proper size in Uniqlo’s sleeveless top looks just a little more snug than I’m used to. It’s not uncomfortably compressive or anything like that (more on its comfort later) but the thin material does give away just a little more abdominal definition /humblebrag than I’d like. I decided to stick it out with the right size, but if you’re any more body shy/less shameless than I am, you might like to go up a size for a slight bit more room.

Claim #1: It’s lightweight and packs down really small

My sleeveless top selection includes two Lululemon Cool Racerback tops, two Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Armour Coolswitch Tanks, and one draped cotton sleeveless top I bought in Thailand. Here’s how much they each weigh, in descending order:

Verdict

Lightweight? Check.

Since I’ve historically optimized for packable clothing, I didn’t expect to be particularly impressed by a top that many also call packable. This, however, is just pretty cool:

My Uniqlo Airism sleeveless top balled up in one hand

If you choose to go up a size or get the T-shirt version instead, you might not achieve quite this level of packable. It’s still definitely a very compact fabric.

If I carried the same total weight of my current tank tops in Uniqlo Airism tops, I’d have eight of them instead of six. They’d also take up less space. That’s a neat trick.

Claim #2: It wicks sweat

Let it never be said that I don’t suffer for my art. To put this one to the test, I went for a 5km run in some humid weather with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius.

Verdict

Yes, it wicks just as well as, if not a little better than, any of my sport tops. No, I don’t have pictures.

Claim #3: It dries quickly after sink-washing

One reason many nomads like quick-drying fabric is the ability to wash items in the sink and wear them the next day (or a few hours later). The wash-and-wear strategy ultimately means you need to carry fewer items of clothing.

I gave the Uniqlo Airism top a typical sink-scrub (wet, add a few drops of any soap, squish and rub, rinse and wring). Then I hung it up in an air-conditioned room.

Verdict

Factors like how much it’s wrung out and relative humidity will affect how quickly any clothing dries. In my case, I’ve been happy with the drying time of this particular top after a few instances of hand-washing. It dried out completely when left overnight, and was slightly damp but wearable after only a couple hours. (Pro tip: the fastest way to dry your clothing is to wear it!)

Claim #4: It’s really comfortable

As I write this, I’m almost nine hours into a long-haul flight, and I’ve been up and dressed for fifteen hours in total. I travelled in 30+ Celsius weather to get to the airport. I typically only reserve my most tried-and-true clothing for long days like this, since the last thing I need is for my clothes to make me feel any less comfortable.

Verdict

This top is really comfortable.

I haven’t once felt sweaty or sticky. The fabric feels soft and light against my skin, and unless I’m deliberately thinking about it, I don’t really notice it’s there. I spilled some water on myself at one point, and it dabbed right off.

Despite sitting for long periods in awkward positions and carrying my bag, the top doesn’t look wrinkled or disheveled at all (even though the rest of me does). No, I don’t have pictures.

Overall performance

Like the men’s shirts and underwear, the Uniqlo Women’s Airism top is thin fabric. With that comes the benefits of being lightweight, quick to dry, and in the case of this particular top, very comfortable for everything from casual wear to gym workouts.

Wearing the top at the gym

Rawrr!

The long-term durability of the fabric remains to be seen, especially since it’s intended use is as an undershirt and not a rugged outer layer. However, at a relatively inexpensive price (~$10 USD) and reasonable availability in most large cities and online, the tops present little hassle to replace.

The sleeveless version is not something you might want to wear on its own to a business meeting, though for casual use it’s perfectly fine. If you typically like structured, tailored, or business-meeting-appropriate clothing, the Airism line is still a good choice for pairing with an outer shirt or jacket.

Bottom line

Uniqlo’s Airism tops for women offers an overall convenience that I find to be unparalleled in such a readily available clothing line. It won’t cover every situation, but it will cover a great majority of them.

If your fashion follows function, and you highly value the clothing’s practical benefits, then I think you’ll find Uniqlo’s Airism tops to be a great choice for a staple item.

Just don’t get the white one.