Styling Fabrics: Denim, Devoré, Chambray, Suede, Silk, Embroidery | Fringe Kimono | Black & Blue

Is it important to you how clothes feel against your skin?

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.

Afterwards, I did toy with the idea that maybe I should’ve worn a scarf in my hair but on reflection that would’ve over played things, turning the outfit into the beginnings of a costume.  If I was wearing wide linen trousers or palazzo pants then maybe.

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

Dorothy Perkins Kimono SS15  Black Devoré Kimono or a Black Crochet Trim Kimono

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.

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  1. June 7, 2016 / 12:47 am

    Great post. The feel of fabrics is important and never gets mentioned on blogs 'cause it doesn't show up in photos, but in real-life it affects us. As you note, cheap manufacturing using inferior materials is the culprit.

    • June 8, 2016 / 2:07 pm

      Thanks Ally. You're right it rarely gets mentioned but clearly for some us of it's a major deciding factor when buying clothes.

  2. June 7, 2016 / 5:46 am

    Such a cute outfit, and a pretty kimono. I think fabric matters, and how something feels is more important than how it looks like. When I see something I like in a shop, the first think I look at is the little label with material info and washing instructions. And if it says acrylic or polyster (or dry-cleaning) then I put it back, never mind how pretty it is. I want silk ( but the washable kind) and cashmere and linen ( the non-iron kind) and cotton, and I hate the cheap tat we are being offered by a lot of shops and retailers. There's a lot of bad quality women's clothes out there..

    • June 8, 2016 / 2:09 pm

      You're a lass after my own heart, Tiina! We can place too much importance on the look and not how it feels on us. If I'm feeling great in an outfit, then I'll exude natural confidence way more than in something that I'll be fidgeting around in! And it's so true about there being so much poor quality clothes out there.

  3. June 7, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    You made me laugh at print mixing is so passe!! You are a funny girl, Jacqueline!
    I have to admit, i'm one of those that the feel of the clothes doesn't make a difference to me—I don't notice it at all (maybe because my mind is so busy…yeah, that's it–ha ha) But I do know a lot of my friends, think this trait is quite important.
    But really—let's discuss the important things in life—like those shoes! Golly gee they are fabulous!!
    And I still love my kimono—I wore it yesterday! I don't have issues of it getting stuck on things though–maybe I need to get out more??

    • June 8, 2016 / 2:12 pm

      Glad to have made you laugh, Jodie!
      It's interesting that feel doesn't make a difference to you. You're fortunate. So many garments become off limits for me which can be restricting.
      Ha, ha, yes, the sandals were an amazing find! I've been a little naughty in buying them but I really couldn't resist them!

  4. June 7, 2016 / 10:43 pm

    You're really rocking the TARDIS blue! I am so wtih you on the feel of the fabrics! I HATE Chiffon because I hate how it feels and I am very much into natural fabrics!! The Outfit is really beautiful!
    AHAHAHHA, Fringing and getting caught- yesssssssssssssssssssss, the same with me!11!

    • June 8, 2016 / 2:14 pm

      Yes, chiffon is another one that I don't like wearing. I feel my skin can't breathe in it if I have to wear it. Natural is sooo much better. Oooh yes, the TARDIS blue!
      Glad I'm not the only one then!

  5. June 8, 2016 / 11:55 am

    The feel and quality of fabric has become really important to me recently…I can't stand polyester because it makes me either feel cold or sweat buckets. Buying online is tricky – I try to zoom in to see what the fabric is like! I'm so glad you told us the difference between denim and chambray because I was thinking about it only the other day…I had to pause reading and inspect the weave of my jeans – every day's a school day! I share your love of kimonos…they are so flowing and beautiful, but I can't do fringed sleeves either – who wants to dangle their outfit in ketchup? Not me! I love your pretty sandals 🙂

    Emma xxx

    • June 8, 2016 / 2:17 pm

      You're right Emma, it's an either or with polyester! I often try to zoom in but sometimes the photography doesn't help at all.
      The difference quite surprised me too. That made me smile you had to stop and inspect the weave of your jeans!!!
      The fringe free club is growing – you're so right, I want food to go in me not ON me!

  6. June 8, 2016 / 10:38 pm

    Silk has to be my favourite material, fluid and friendly to a petite body. I too also hate buying on line. Not for the feel, but for the fit. I love the Kimono and I'm just about to click a look at those gorgeous sandals x

    • June 21, 2016 / 10:31 pm

      Yes, fit can be so deceptive on line too.
      I wonder if you bought the sandals, Laurie?!

  7. June 9, 2016 / 10:40 am

    I agree with you that fabrics must feel great against the skin. I definitely do not want to be uncomfortable in my clothing all day. And practicality has to win out. While bell sleeves are adorable, what a nuisance they can be, I'm sure! I, too, get necklaces caught on things and fringes yanked out by other things, so the struggle is real! You look adorable in this outfit and I am absolutely swooning over those adorable sandals!


    • June 21, 2016 / 10:35 pm

      It's all about the marriage of practical and comfortable whilst staying stylish!
      I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble with sleeves – oh yes, bell ones can be a nightmare too!
      Thank you for the lovely comments Shelbee, and apologies for the delay in replying to you.

  8. June 9, 2016 / 6:24 pm

    Yes, feel is VERY important…silk , chambray, suede, cashmere even vinyl all have their merits. Scratchy is a no-no and polyester is not so good either. A great look. XXX

    • June 21, 2016 / 10:35 pm

      I have a love / hate relationship with polyester, Samantha!
      Oh yes, I forgot about silk and cashmere – divine.

  9. June 10, 2016 / 9:02 pm

    lovely mixed textures and fabrics, and lovely subtle 20's vibe!, you rock making it look contemporary and modern.
    Oh, and you're not the only one that catches her sleeves/fringes/whatever on everything. I'm a real expert on it!

    • June 21, 2016 / 10:36 pm

      I'm sure that you're not as expert as I am though! I have a real knack for it!
      Thank you for your lovely words.

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