When we make fashion choices, fabric can be overlooked, but wearing the right fabric often makes a huge difference to the look of an outfit. And it’s not all about style. Your choice of fabric can also reflect your ethical values. I don’t want to tell you to buy a particular type of clothing to cater to expectations, but do think carefully about your choices!
Shaping your personal style
By wearing different textures and patterned fabrics, you can change your style to suit your personality. What aesthetic are you looking for, and how can the right fabric help you create it? Leather, for instance, creates a strong look because of its thickness and rough feel. The varying textures of leather, whether matte or reflective, can change your aesthetic even further. Quilted leather can add intricacy to a plain outfit and patterns can make your style more interesting.
The same fabrics can be used to suit different styles. Velvet has been revered as luxurious for decades, and is a popular choice for elegant and slinky dresses. Yet, velour, which is very similar to velvet, is often used to make tracksuits and hoodies.
If you don’t want to venture too far outside of your comfort zone, wearing an item that is similar to one you already own, but in a different material, is a simple way to try something new without feeling like an impostor in a costume.
Dressing for your body
What makes you feel the most confident? You should not feel forced to follow “rules” which suggest that a particular fabric is conventionally flattering for your body type.
Instead, a handy tip is to think about the concepts of light and dark. Fabrics that catch the light, such as metallics, velvets and patent will draw the eye. They’re more likely to make you feel good when you use them to highlight the body parts which you feel most confident about. Matte materials, like cotton and denim, will give a flat appearance, so draw less attention. An interesting fabric that has aspects of both is suede, which is matte, but also has slight texture that creates a colour difference when rubbed over.
Layering fabrics creates dimension
I’ve recently fallen in love with high-waisted velvet leggings. I know there an alleged rule that leggings shouldn’t be worn as trousers, but I’m choosing to ignore this! I much prefer velvet leggings to the stretchy nylon and cotton ones because they are thick enough to smooth over “lumpy” body parts, but catch the light, enhancing my curves. They’re perfectly comfortable, but also look sleek.
Finding a balance
A balance can be found by mixing textures and material thickness. Layering fabrics creates dimension. Balance can also be found in having a statement piece, sometimes with a bold fabric. I personally think that using one fabric for a whole outfit can look fabulous, but it takes daring.
And don’t forget about your shoes! Shoes come in different finishes. Whether you choose a matte, patent, or metallic shoe can make a difference in tying your overall outfit together. Luckily, there’s a simple solution – just try different shoes with your outfit until you find a pair that make you look in the mirror and smile.
Reflecting your ethical values
Sustainability is a hot topic in this age of consumer awareness and activism, although it’s not always easy to tell whether a garment is sourced in an ethical way.
Wearing clothes that reflect your personal values is liberating
Fabric is so important when we’re considering sustainability. Practice your values by choosing to wear good-quality fabrics that will last a long time and won’t go to waste. Why not wear vegan materials, like vegan leather and fur? And be sure check out second-hand pieces from charity shops and vintage fairs. “Fast fashion” items might be cheap and easy to find, but the quality tends to be poor and the item will soon be thrown away. According to The Guardian,“throwaway garments contribute more to climate change than air and sea travel”.
As a relatively poor student, it can be hard to purchase clothing that isn’t cheap and fast, but when you next go to purchase an item, have a quick think about whether the journey of that item fits in with your own morals.
Wearing clothes that reflect your personal values is liberating. Thinking about the deeper aspects of creating an ensemble of clothes has forced me to reflect on myself and my values and has satisfied my creative flair.