The archetypal lover experiences the world through the senses, making them deeply connected to their physical body. By prioritising the sensation of touch, the lover casts a critical eye over the materials that aren’t particularly kind to our skin, but that unfortunately make up much of our daily attire. Luckily, we have some styling tips which can make your favourite, but uncomfortable, items more wearable.
Know Your Skin
Unfortunately, avoiding irritable fabrics is a major issue for some of us. Some of us seem destined to a life of checking and double checking labels for that fateful 2% polyester that would leave us feeling itchy all day. The impact that our skin’s reaction to certain fabrics has on our lives, as well as style, is really quite remarkable given how rarely it’s discussed in high fashion media. Unbreathable, synthetic fibres make up a large portion of our clothes, and, because of this, many of us accept feeling clammy and uncomfortable as an inevitability. By paying attention to which specific fibres cause our skin to react, and on which part of our bodies (it’s common for the most noticeable reactions to occur on either the arms or legs) it’s possible to tailor the way we style certain fabrics according to what our skin prefers.
Ones to Watch
Despite being far less of an issue for those with comparatively unreactive skin, certain environments can make most fabrics uncomfortable, and there’s no denying that there are some fairly universal main offenders that we should all be aware of. While it’s tempting to place natural fibres on a pedestal and condemn all synthetics, there is a pretty wide range of irritable and comfortable materials in both camps. Wool, for instance, is about as natural and unprocessed as modern fabrics get, yet its itchiness can result in inflamed skin for those with conditions such as eczema. On the other hand, the way synthetics trap heat and moisture can make them uncomfortable in summer, materials like acrylic and polyester are unreactive to skin as long as they stay dry.
On summer days when you’ll be spending some time on stuffy public transport or in an office with no AC, it’s best to wear natural fabrics like cotton, rayon, or linen next to the skin. Light rayon blouses (a material made from bamboo) are breathable but stylish, making them a top choice for professional looks that can handle the heat. Opting for light and breathable garments on the upper half of your body – where we generally store more heat – is an effective way to prevent overheating. Wearing breathable base layers affords you the option of removing moisture trapping outer layers, keeping you warm when the sun hides behind a cloud, and cool when things heat up. Keep this tactical combination of materials looking chic by pairing a white cotton t-shirt with a lightweight, black viscose-blend blazer.
It’s possible to add dimension to a look by thinking about touch not only in terms of the sensation of materials on the skin, but through the visible texture of different fabrics. Materials like fur (vintage or faux), ruffles, silk, and lace are instantly identifiable, and can be combined with contrasting fabrics to create textured, dynamic looks. By pairing materials with lots of volume, such as fur and ruffles, with slim fitting items of flat fabrics, such as trousers or a pencil skirt, your look will avoid becoming overcrowded: let the louder garments take centre stage. Equally distinct but flatter fabrics, like silk, risk being overpowered by loud textures. To let silk garments shine, pair them with flat, matte fabrics, such as denim and cotton-blends, or velvet, that contrast and draw attention to silk’s glossiness. The silk blouse is a highly versatile wardrobe staple; effortlessly elegant, this garment looks wonderful as part of both casual, daytime looks and formal eveningwear. To dress it down, pair your silk blouse with a well-fitted pair of jeans or dress it up with some wide-legged, cotton-blend trousers. Combining a variety of textures has the potential to give even the most modest of looks a sensuous flavour, meaning that you can look divine in fabrics that feel divine, whatever the occasion.