Do certain fabrics feel so good, you don't want to take them off, yet others, as soon as you start to put them on, make you either break out into a sweat or turn you into an irritable beast?
How clothes feel against my skin is very important to me. Anything that feels synthetic, non-breathable or scratchy isn't going to make it into my wardrobe, however wonderful a garment it may be. When buying clothes, if I spot something I like, I have to feel the material and that decides if I try it on. It's why buying on line for someone who's so strongly kinesthetic is a minefield.
The good news is that there are many textiles I adore wearing because they feel good against my skin - cotton, linen, velvet, embroidery anglaise. And I'll stop there because otherwise this post will end up being a shopping list of materials! Suffice to say, I wanted to do a post where the focus was pairing some of my favourite fabrics.
Instead of pattern mixing, I'm fabric mixing.
Pattern mixing is sooo passé, don't you know. Mixing fabrics is where it's at!
It's unbelievable how much poor quality fabric is used in clothing and it's not just limited to fast fashion, although they are the biggest culprits. As I continue my journey through the menopause, coupled with suffering from mild ezcema, it's becoming even more vital that clothes feel like a comfortable second skin. I want to put them on, and then be almost unaware of them against my body, because either they're so soft or they don't make me feel like I'm inside a sauna on the hottest day of the year. Yes polyester, I'm talking about you!
The colour palette may be primarily two tone, but I'm generously giving you 5 - yes count 'em FIVE very specific and different textures. We've
the softness of chambray,
the smoothness of faux suede,
the weave and sheen of shot silk,
the striking, semi-transparent pattern of devoré,
the weight and weave of denim.
We're positively luxuriating in textural heaven.
I'm almost but not quite doing double denim here with the top and the sandals. Denim and chambray are more cousins than siblings. I always thought they were the same material with chambray just being a lighter version of denim but no, my friends. A little research and I learned.
Denim is a twill wool fabric, woven diagonally,
whilst chambray is a plain weave fabric with criss-cross weaving.
So if ever the question 'what is the difference between denim and chambray?' comes up in a pub quiz, you'll know the answer!
Kimonos were a huge trend last summer. You couldn't walk out of your front door without bumping into three. And yes, I did a post on a blue kimono I bought last summer after trying on and rejecting numerous kimonos. This black one was so ridiculously cheap in the sale at the end of last summer, I wasn't going to pass up the chance to buy another.
For summer days they are a great cover up and a free flowing alternative to a cardigan. I could wear this kimono with jeans till the cows come home yet the gorgeous swirling pattern of the devoré deserved a more than just jeans, so I kept the denim to only the sandals.
I'm not usually one for too much fringing, especially on sleeves which so many kimonos have. To be frank, it drives me NUTS when it's on the sleeves.
Am I the only one that catches them on everything? I mean door handles, buttons, jewellery and don't even get me started on said fringing dripping into food at meal times!
This kimono passed the test because it's fringe free on the sleeve!
The upside of fringing is, of course, the satisfying swishing whenever there's a light breeze or bodily movement.
The essence of a bygone era
Kimonos always have the essence of a bygone era to me so I instinctively put on this long beaded necklace I bought last year on holiday in France. I foolishly tried a couple of other necklaces with the outfit but I was inextricably drawn back to this long beaded one.
Each time, small voice of reason said with increasing frustration;
'Oh stop with all this necklace malarkey and stick with your first choice! You're wearing a fringe kimono, you're holding a silk embroidered bag; for heavens sake embrace the undercurrent of the 1920's here.'
And who am I to ignore such reasoning? Japonisme was a huge trend in 1920's fashion - think flapper girls in silks and chiffons. Remember Carrie Mulligan's striking black and white kimono in The Great Gatsby? A stunning creation, but I don't fancy her chances with the soup at dinner with those sleeves!
Japonisme was a natural progression from Orientalism. In the Edwardian era, pre WW1 fashion, art and culture was heavily influence by Orientalism.
The focus here is the fabric; the 20's feel is merely a happy accident. The trio of kimono, necklace and shot silk bag, just subtly acknowledges an essence of that era, whilst the overall look remains contemporary.
Kew Chambray top from TKMaxx Ben de Lisi Denim Top
Wallis Faux Suede Skirt AW16
Steve Madden Cobalt Blue Faux Suede Belt
Beaded Necklace from a shop in France
Embroidered Silk Handbag (ancient)
Fat Face set of bracelets
Embellished Heel Denim Sandals still available in size 3. I also love these Denim Wedges, sadly not available in size 3 which is probably good a thing for me! Prefer a t-bar? Then Clarks Denim Sandals will suit you to a tee!
Styling Fabrics Footnote
Outfit inspiration can come from many places - past decades and eras, art, literature, nature, patterns, colours, or shapes. Playing with different styles of fabrics gives you another creative and fun angle with which to build outfits.
I deliberately chose soft and smooth textures for this outfit but why not mix heavier fabrics with lighter, delicate ones such as velvet and lace or tweed with silk?
What fabrics do you like to mix together? I'd love to know.