Fabric Weight/Type/Texture

Fabric texture affects:

  1. Mood of the outfit
  2. How well the item looks on one’s skin
  3. Drape/movement (which then affects line)

All four fabric samples (pix taken from google) above are plain black textiles, but immediately you can tell which is the sexiest, which is the most outdoorsy, and which you’d most likely find on your banker.

Consider – would you wear a silk charmeuse LBD to a funeral?  Or would you show more respect in a nicely tailored navy-blue wool – even if the dresses were cut exactly the same way?

Texture is one of the very best (and most modest) ways to amp up the femininity and sensuality of an outfit.  You can be covered to your chin in silk and be more sensual than someone wearing a pair of short-shorts.  Texture sets the mood of your clothing composition second only to color, and because we are unused to seeing much variety in texture these days, it is a far sneakier method.

Shine is part of texture, and your skin and age should be taken into consideration when you’re thinking about how much shine is desirable.  The fine lines on skin that has seen more years looks well with a rougher fabric – charmeuse is best on those whose skin is dewy and young.  (Too much contrast between skin texture and fabric is seldom a good thing).  Texture also affects true color – note that all four swatches above are “black” but were you painting them, you’d represent them differently.  A sheer fabric lets the color of the fabric underneath (or skin) shine through, for instance.

Fabric texture affects the way the garment will move.  This is called “drape”, and a well draped garment is something that will make you look like there are very few holes in your purse.  Chiffon quivers with the slightest breeze, a stiff boiled wool hardly gives way in a gale.  Charmeuse clings softly to your curves, in no hurry to get to its destination.   A crisp cotton hangs away from the body.  Movement affects line, which again affects mood.

Things being what they are these days, if you find a pattern that pleases you in line, you can make multiple copies in fabrics that have slight differences in weight and texture and no one will notice the similarities, only that you have a closet full of dresses that look well on you.

Texture is also an excellent way to incorporate subtle color variances – I love tweed for this, or heathered cottons.  It’s not obvious, and yet you have little pick-me-ups all through what you’re wearing.  From my own fabric stash, some raw silk:


Texture is often overlooked, because we all wear cotton (or poly) knit 90% of the time.  A thoughtful use of this element can make you the best dressed woman in the room.


4 thoughts on “Fabric Weight/Type/Texture

  1. magistratrium

    Yet another reason to start sewing again. Then I can afford a silk blouse. 🙂

    I appreciate the advice about age and textures. It makes sense even though I hadn’t thought about it before. I still have very youthful skin so I expect I can still wear some silks but I will start watching out for skin texture and fabric texture from now on.


    1. hearthie Post author

      I’m sure you can wear silk – silk is not all satin charmeuse. SILK is a lovely, friendly fabric… just getting a texture that’s not super shiny. A washed silk would be divine.


  2. fiberaddict

    This is SO good! And timely – I am getting a list together for the next shopping expedition. 2016 is the year of the pants….and an all-denim wardrobe is boring. I think I need to consider wool….warmth and elegance all in one!



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