The Tao Of Texture
Posted by James F. Brown on Mar 22, 2009 - 2:58:31 PM
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Most people think that coordinating clothes applies only to color. That’s definitely a consideration, but coordinating textures is also important. Mixing and matching textures is more subtle — although easier — than coordinating colors. Here are some tips for doing it well.
Texture refers not only to how clothes feel, but how they appear. And appearance is more important because that’s what people see and respond to. Texture results from how a fabric is woven and the color of the threads in the fabric. The goal is to have two or more textures that mix well together. What you always want to avoid is having only one texture for every single item. An example of this would be a hopsack sport coat and pants, paired with an oxford cloth shirt and a wool challis tie. It’s a dull, boring, uninspired look that can mark you as unsophisticated and clueless.
For suits and sport coats, flannel and gabardine are two widely used textures. Flannel is soft and its weave is nearly invisible. Gabardine has a diagonal ribbed weave. Wearing these textures with a broadcloth shirt and silk tie is always elegant and acceptable.
Two other weaves are hopsack and herringbone. Hopsack for coats and pants is similar to oxford cloth for shirts. It’s the oldest, simplest and most basic weave, and is slightly less formal than gabardine and flannel. Herringbone, also called tweed, can be very formal if the weave is small and made of worsted wool, or more casual if it’s larger and has a rougher yarn. It’s also used in shirts.
Corduroy, once reserved for royalty, is now seen mostly in sport coats and casual pants. It has a ribbed appearance, known as a wale. The wale can be thick or thin. Corduroy with a different textured pants and shirt, with or without a tie, is a wonderful choice for business casual or after hours attire.
Shirts come in a range of textures. Besides broadcloth, oxford cloth, and herringbone, shirts are also available in end-on-end and chambray fabrics, where white thread is interwoven with colored thread.
Ties made of silk have an exquisite, lustrous look and feel. Silk ties are the standard for business attire. Ties can also be made of linen or linen-cotton blend. These are more casual and seldom worn with a suit. Wool challis ties have a rough texture and are woven in a hopsack pattern. These are also less formal than silk ties.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with textures. It’s fun and creative, and you can come up with some very chic and stylish mixes. And if you’re not sure if a combination works, ask a woman for her opinion. The fairer sex generally has lots of expertise when it comes to coordinating outfits and they’re usually happy to help.
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