A word on textures


April 29, 2014 by Ville Raivio

Small is the number of men who learn style under the tutelage of their fathers, and even fewer speak the language of traditional clothing. This is why we see colourful buttonholes, decorated undercollars, bright colour buttons, contrast stitching and multi-collar mutant shirts in stores. When looking for something distinctive and distinguished, it is easy to grab the garish or poignant if one’s not yet versed in the options. The solution to this problem is texture; uneven weaves, irregular surfaces, variegated patterns, so on, found in fabrics, woollens, worsteds, shirtings.


As an example I mention the regular navy blue tie, which can be crafted from woven, printed, knitted or crocheted silk, and consequently have a very smoth or nubby surface. Materials like raw or Shantung silk bring a new mix into the equation, and remind us of the many forms of silk. This cornucopia of options is not on offer in high street shops catering to customers not asking for more. When the variables are summed up correctly, one will notice how texture combinations do stack up — and this deck has yet no colour shades or patterns included.

The world of collar shirts offers texture in the form of herringbone, twill, Dobby or Royal Oxford weaves, which look different both on paper and on shoulders. Cotton can be mixed with linen or ramie that bring more wrinkles into the idle moments of summer. In handkerchiefs, instead of the common smooth cotton, the reader can try a mixture of silk and wool, whose matte surface will balance shiny suitings. A tweed ‘kerchief, in turn, brings suitable roughness in the breast pocket of a sturdy corduroy jacket. The journey into the world of textures reaches a new high at a tailor or made to measure shirt shop, after confronting a tome of fabric swatches

Watching, touching and comparing through hundreds and thousands of fabrics teaches that the Lounge suit is not a Lounge suit, that the white shirt is not the same white shirt time after time. When one’s occupation calls for a Lounge suit with all the works, the waning years will make the same old formula very dull indeed. At this time I believe textures will be the solution instead of challenge, because a grown man in shiny or overt decorated trinket clothing is more comical than assuring. Where contrast is conspicuous and easy, texture is restricted and complicated communication in details. A true sport of skill.


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