We all know the importance of dressing for our body shape, but one factor that often gets lost in conversation is choosing the right fabrics . A dress in the right style but wrong fabric can spell disaster! Stick with me and I’ll help you navigate this minefield, once and for all.
I’ve concentrated on just a few of the natural fabrics available. The way these are treated at source will affect the environment. Let’s be mindful of this and ensure we buy from retailers who take their sourcing seriously.
Traditionally cotton is considered to be a stiff fabric, which means that it sits off curves in a rather unflattering way. It isn’t particularly forgiving across the bust either.
Garments made up entirely of crisp cotton are more suited to straight figures, and actually enhance this body shape, providing a sharp, clean silhouette.
Curvy figures should look for cotton with stretch. Jersey cotton is made on a circular knitting machine so is constructed very differently to stiff cotton. Often Lycra or elastane is added to provide extra stretch.
Silk is the strongest natural fibre and yet one of the most luxurious. The weight of silk is known as the ‘momme’ (mm). The higher the momme, the heavier the silk, and will hang straighter on the body. If you have a straight up and down figure, look for silk fabric of at least 15mm to achieve the heaviness, which in turn will hang from your frame, rather than cling.
A lighter weight silk will follow the body shape and have fabulous draping qualities, making it ideal for curvy figures. It is however important to get a good fit, as the sheen in the
silk will reflect imperfections. Better for the fabric to follow the body shape, than cling to it. Look for brands who weave a touch of elastane into their silk which makes it very comfortable to wear.
We often think of linen as being a stiff fabric that creases easily, but if it’s cut on the bias, it takes on a different property altogether. It is therefore suitable for many body shapes. Cool to the touch and very breathable, it makes for a good choice in hot weather.
If you have a curvy figure or carry weight around your torso or thigh area, look for linen that has been cut on the bias. It will drape over these areas rather than stand off (which will add pounds to your frame).
Of course if you are more rectangular or column shaped, a crisp linen is ideal to give you a flattering silhouette.
Natural fibres have far more advantages than man-made products, and wool is no exception.
The key with wool is to consider density; the thicker the knit, the bulkier it will be on your frame. This can work to your advantage, for example, a lean rectangle body shape can use an oversized, woolly jumper to break up the ‘runner bean’ look and add interest. Conversely, it can also add bulk to a frame in an unflattering way. Apple body shapes may look much larger in thick, chunky knits. Far better to layer with thinner pieces than one big one.