What are you wearing right now?
How does the fabric feel against your skin? Are you warm or cool? Do you feel good?
We often don’t give enough consideration to the fabric our clothes are made from.
Become a fabric expert, make better, more educated purchasing choices and navigate your shopping with ease.
Very few people including me are guilt free when choosing fabrics for our wardrobe, sustainable fabrics and ethical choices are important knowledge to know, so that's how we will start.
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The ethics of fashion: What is an ethical fabric?
Why choose ethical and sustainable fabric?
Ethical fabric is to better produce fabric from the beginning process by which fabric is designed, through sourcing and creation. It is manufactured considering the people and their communities used to create and produce the fabric - this is fair trade. Sustainable fabrics aim to make the least possible effect on the environment, resources, waste and emitting of toxins.
Who are the pioneers of ethical fabrics?
A key pin is Stella McCartney who has made the term 'ethical' more topical today than it ever has been.
"To portray who we want to be and how we carry ourselves; our attitude and collective path. Our man-made constructed environments are disconnected and unaware of other life and the planet which is why there is waste." - Stella McCartney, Fashion Designer
Fabric Climate Guide:
Avoid a seasonal wardrobe malfunction
How to choose the best fabric for the season.
Summer embraces the outdoors, a carefree vibe, picnics, walks along the beach, outside cafes, gardening. We want to spend this time during the warmer months free from a feeling of overheating, perspiration and a frustrated with our clothes not working, clinging to our skin, a seasonal malfunction.
What is the best t-shirt fabric?
Lightweight and breathable, cotton is a natural fabric. As much as I love grey it does show perspiration dramatically compared to lighter or darker tones which make for my prefered choices.
Cotton is the ideal t-shirt, dress or exercise wear choice for dry or humid climates, breathable - helps air circulate.
Anti-bacterial qualities, bamboo is soft and cool against the skin, as well as washes and wears very well.
What fabrics are best for a very hot summer day?
Historically linen has a long heritage (dating back to Ancient Egyptian times) and is outstanding in the very hottest of hot climates. A lengthy process is involved to make linen which is why it isn't available as commonly as cotton, which is much quicker to produce.
Strong, durable, breathable, hemp can be used alone or spun with other fibres like cotton. Mildew resistant, the list goes on of benefits - basically a super fabric in the world of natural fabrics.
Looks like denim but lighter in weight, made from cotton - due to its lighter weight qualities it makes for a more appropriate choice for jeans, trousers, shorts, skirts, and shirts in hotter months.
Cotton, polyester and rayon blends are often choices for sportswear as they have the benefits of natural and the benefits of man-made fabrics - they breathe and dry quickly.
Which fabrics are best in winter?
Winter conjures up rugging up, cozy slippers, hot cup of tea, good books, time to slow down. Stay warm when is cold outdoors wearing layers, coats, and scarves or risk shivering with grief at your wardrobe selection.
I adore wool for its soft, luxurious, warm and long lasting qualities if you think it's itchy you have the wrong type. Choose your wool wisely and you will have it for many years to come, even decades if you really nail your picking.
What fabric is best for a winter coat?
Felted / Boiled Wool
Felted wool is warm, soft and shapes like no other fabric making it ideal for jackets, berets, and scarfs. Created through firstly part boiling the woollen fibres to shrink them and then felting (interlocking) them, producing an identifiable, unable to be untangled, thickness and quality.
What are the longest wearing jumper and sweater fabrics?
Made from goat's wool, cashmere is superb in quality, luxurious and when cared for correctly will see you through many years. Cashmere fabric is soft (once worn) and warm - the benefits of cashmere are your skin is warm, not hot - as the fabric breathes very well.
Did you know? Cashmere is finer, stronger, lighter, and approximately three times more insulating than sheep's wool.
For the love of velvet - I can't get enough of this fabric. Elegant, luxurious, decadent and stylish, in jackets, dresses, trousers. For quality, luxury and practicality choose Madewell - Black cotton velvet blazer.
Depending on your ethical values, leather is an outstanding winter fabric. A worthwhile investment due to its hardwearing surface - it will mould to your shape and good quality leather will only get better with age.
A tightly woven fabric, with an air social sophistication, and upper class. Worthwhile for adding signature style to your wardrobe - skirt, trousers or blazer.
What are the best trans-seasonal fabrics for the months in Autumn and Spring?
These suggestions can intermingle within the summer and winter months making them work most if not the entire year.
A questionable fabric for ethical reasons, though silk is a natural fabric so breaths well, its soft, smooth, classic and drapes in a flattering way. It is biodegradable and has very low environmental impact. The dyes used have far less impact on the environment than cotton does. Vegans have ethical issues with the source of silk - silkworms. There is a means to obtain cruelty-free silk or you can choose fabrics with a silk feel made from bamboo or synthetic rayon.
Denim (Cotton twill)
Another entire blog post on this wardrobe winner - if someone said I don't own denim it is up there with I don't like or listen to music? Excuse me? Really, ok, but truly why?
Denim, denim, denim, denim - I love denim.
Be wary of denim with too much stretch (elastane), check the percentage - is up to personal taste but personally, I recommend less, less than 3%. I don't like my jeans losing shape as the day wears on.
These are your comfortable clothes, your hoodie and tracksuit pants, sweatpants. A mixture of wool, cotton and synthetic fibres, drapes well, is soft and lightweight.
Aesthetically pleasing: What do I look like? Do I look good in this?
Which fabrics are the most flattering?
Which fabrics drape the best?
To sum up quickly and this is generally, the fabrics that hang well on your frame are those with medium weight and thickness. Draping is so important to fashion designers, stylists and celebrities it can make or break an outfit, photo or runway show. To get it right it is generally best to follow the rule; does it flow with me or against? Are my best qualities highlighted or hidden?
Which fabrics feel the best against your skin?
This my personal opinion; add your comments below. As I have mentioned I love the feel of velvet, a prime example of an outfit that feels sensational against my skin would be a lush velvet tailored jacket by Madewell, teamed with a soft cashmere v-neck sweater jumper by Karen Millen - heavenly.
I also love wool - though it must be the right wool. I can't stand wearing wool that itches.
Denim is a definite player in my favourite fabric list, particularly these jeans by Weekday - Vice flare leg blue denim jeans.
Best value for money fabrics
Which fabrics are the best to wash, wear and will do so the longest?
Synthetic polyester fabrics don’t crease very much making them good for washing and wearing.
Cotton is good, it can be hand or machine washed, skip the dryer - I personally give my cotton t-shirts and dresses a quick steam iron.
Denim machine wash only when absolutely necessary and do so inside out.
Merino wool and cashmere wool can be hand washed and dried flat, they are then able to be worn without ironing - do not machine wash, ever. From time to time remove piling with a razor or jumper comb to keep in optimal condition.
Always check the garment tag for more information and recommended laundering and care.
Which fabrics don’t need ironing?
Synthetic polyester, acrylic, nylon, and rayon fabrics or a blend of some of these are durable and don’t crease or wrinkle very much.
Which fabrics need little or no dry-cleaning?
Dry cleaning costs add up quickly, depending on your lifestyle a few dry-clean-only wardrobe pieces are handy and even a necessity. Coats, tailored jackets, fine dresses and skirts are all dry cleaning contenders. When in doubt check the tag for more information, best to be careful you spent money on the clothes now its time to look after them.
How to get the longest possible wear from your clothes
What fabrics last the longest?
Leather, polyester and tightly spun wool yarns all last well. Trust your hand, how does the fabric feel? Give it a little tug. Thin fabrics will get holes quicker. Careful laundering is imperative to help your clothes last and look good for longer.
Quality generally costs more, fabrics with low-grade materials are cheaper to produce and generally show on the price tag. Buy from a designer you trust.
How to choose vintage clothes that aren't just old odour filled old fabric
Why do I love it vintage if they are just old clothes?
I adore vintage aka thrift shopping. I have searched google endlessly for vintage finds, get excited about local markets, I know all the best areas for vintage shopping in most of the cities I have visited, and have spent far too many hours on eBay and Etsy in search of the perfect vintage piece.
The bargain factor, the thrill of the find, the unique and often obscure. Though when it comes to vintage fabric - stop, have a smell, if it is too pungent don't buy it. Musty is ok, sticky is not. Hold and feel, do you like the fabric, the touch of it? Does the fabric make you feel excited?
Congratulations you are now on the road to making better purchasing decisions.
Have fun with fashion, your style tells the world who you are without you speaking a world.
Feel free to add constructive comments.
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