Velvet, metallic, satin, tweed, denim, lace, silk, wool – there are so many rich fabrics and fun textures to choose from every day that it is nearly impossible to pick just one to wear at a time. So…don’t. Don’t choose just one. By taking these individually strong materials and mixing them all together you will create a dazzling and unique look all your own. And bonus – we are in the perfect time of year to experiment since fall and winter bring about even more unique textures and thicker fabrics to add into the mix.
I know what you’re thinking. Okay, Heather, sounds great, but how. How do you pair up velvet and denim and lace and brocade and not end up with something that looks like you got dressed in the dark? With
of course! Before we get started I want to give a quick thank you to everyone who voted on my Instagram poll this week. I was planning on doing an outfit of the day post featuring a walk around the Museum of Ice Cream (and of course my rainbow sherbet inspired tie-dye shorts) and fully expected that to win the poll but was very pleasantly surprised that the How To’s of Texture won with 58% of the vote. For those of you that did vote for the Museum of Ice Cream post don’t worry – enough of you voted that you’d like to see it that I will be posting that one up next. 🙂 If you missed the last poll but want to make your vote heard on upcoming content make sure you are following our instagram here.
Now then – let’s talk texture.
The first thing to remember is that there is no set way to do this. Mixing textures isn’t all or nothing and doesn’t necessarily have to be your entire outfit. An easy way to start getting comfortable experimenting is with accessories and shoes.
Let’s start with jewelry:
This necklace is gorgeous and honestly an outfit in itself. It has so many rows and layers of pearls in all different lengths but it also has the actual pearls in different sizes too. This adds so much texture with just one piece and is a definite head turner.
What I love about rings and bracelets is that they add a texture on their own but they are also buildable. The YSL ring (above) by itself is a statement and definitely a standalone piece but by adding the two thinner rings (one with a word and one with a different shape) it takes the texture to another level.
Below we see the same buildable effect with bracelets. Alex and Ani is a really fun way to start your buildable bracelet collection while also promoting positivity and helping some pretty awesome causes along the way too.
Technically I’m squeezing in a bag with the jewelry here but with a bag like that can you blame me? This one-of-a-kind Free People evening bag is part jewelry, part handbag, and all texture.
Once your jewels are sorted it’s time to build on your skills by adding in handbags and shoes.
The outfit above is a perfect way to introduce a textured piece into a normal, casual look. I paired some custom distressed Levis denim cutoff shorts with a pineapple button up from Nordstrom with these Nine West gold suede booties. The look is still casual but with the color and also the suede composition of the booties it gives it a little something unexpected.
Here we are taking two textures with the cotton in the dress and the denim booties and you can see that the red in the patches on the booties help tie it back to the red striped design on the dress. The color rule is actually rule number two so we’ll get more in-depth in that in just a minute.
Another great way to build on texture is with socks. The structured, masculine look of the Gucci loafers contradict with the sheer, slightly shimmery, feminine look of these New Look socks for a fun and different style.
If socks aren’t your thing you can also do this same type of thing with your purse and your shoes instead.
Again, I really love mixing more structured pieces with over the top feminine details so when choosing shoes to wear with the tribal clutch above I went with these black sparkly glitter booties from ASOS.
So. Now you’re ready to move on from accessories to mixing textures in your outfit but you don’t know where to start. The secret to keeping your look streamlined while going wild with texture is to select pieces in the same color family.
This outfit above has a lot of different kinds of materials going on – cotton, tulle, glitter, and leather. But it works because of the symmetry of black and grey in each piece and throughout the look as a whole.
Here’s another example of each piece having a different texture but the color tying it all together. It’s a little tough to see in this picture but the flower choker is black as well though the flower itself is a dusty blue to give an added pop of color.
The hot pink dress here also uses color but instead of having the actual clothing pieces be the various textures, I have the accessories instead. These all tie together as they are all gold tone with a black element to them even though each piece is made of a different metal.
By now I know you all know I don’t wear a ton of black so let’s get to a little more advanced stage of texture mixing and add in some bold colors and some mixing prints at the same time. I won’t focus too heavily on the mixing prints aspect in this particular post as I have had some requests for that very subject and will be doing a future post entirely on that but one thing to note is when you are mixing prints and textures, the safest thing to do is stick to the color rule throughout.
Let’s look at the picture below:
To answer your first question, yes that is the middle of the street and yes I am having a quick zen moment. Now at second glance, you can see the following pieces: Rainbow sunnies, a Spice Girls graphic tee, jersey tapered pants, rainbow striped socks, and gold booties. Writing it down like that it seems like this shouldn’t work and the combination sounds kinda out there. But the reason it does work is because of the color rule. The rainbow sunnies tie into the rainbow stripes of the socks and in the rainbow stripes we have some red. The red stripes flow with the red of the pants which then lead into the top where – you guessed it – we have lots of red but also lots of other colors which takes us back to the rainbow detail.
This same logic applies with the 4th of July look here (which you may remember from this post) where red is again our anchor color but the bathing suit and sunnies also have a red, white, and blue combined aspect to them too. To take it a step further (and to break up the red) I went for an unexpected dark blue TooFaced matte lip.
The next step in our texture lesson would be to take your mixed textures and get a little bolder by expanding on the color rule a little bit. In the previous outfits we’ve had one specific color as our anchor but now let’s see what happens when you bring in other tones in the same color family too.
We’ve got denim, velvet, cotton, lace, and leather for fabrics plus ruffles plus embroidery plus bows (and that’s not even including those sunnies). Whew that is quite the mouthful! So why does it work? The denim serves as a neutral base in this case and the red velvet texture of the bows give the jeans a romantic feel. We are keeping with the romantic theme with the ruffle detail and with the lace of the top and also introducing another hue of the red color spectrum with the pink tone and the red lipstick brings back the red of the velvet bows.
The below is another take on this idea with the same pants but different shoes, accessories, and a different top though still sticking to pink to keep it in that same tone. I also added in a bit of green and also lavender with the purse thus breaking the rule I just explained entirely but that is because when I am told I can’t have something or not to do something I, of course, immediately have to have it and/or do it. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.
So. You’ve mastered accessories. You’re confident with color. Now it’s time to further define your texture technique and learn how to combine different categories of textures to change the tone of your outfit. Let’s break it down with a few equations:
The first equation is pretty simple and something you’ve probably already mastered in your day to day without even realizing it’s a form of combining textures. Casual + Casual = Casual. Below are a few examples of different textures including denim, cotton, knits, etc. to create laid-back looks. You’ll see a lot of rule one applied here with a focus on the shoes especially.
The second part of the equation might seem a little trickier but the key to wearing a rich texture and still maintaining a casual look is by mixing a very casual piece with a very opulent piece.
Below is something I wore on a flight and two of the three pieces are literally a t-shirt and sweats. Pretty much as casual as you can get. But by simply throwing on a faux fur coat in a deep green (which was also a way to save suitcase space) it instantly took the look from ‘I just woke up from a nap” to “Heather goes Hollywood”.
The same idea applies to this look. A regular pair of denim shorts got a Casual (de)Luxe upgrade by pairing them with sheer knee-high tights and a cashmere sweater.
Here are just a few more ways to achieve the Casual (de)Luxe style:
This leads us to our last equation and the formula here basically takes it up to full scale glamour. To acheive this look (which is great for holiday parties this season by the way!) stick to combining luxe fabrics entirely such as leather, velvet, fur, silk and metallics.
In the below look I followed this formula almost exactly and mixed velvet, leather, and metallic sequins and then added in an overlayer with the green faux fur coat again to really take the opulence over the top.
This American Music Awards outfit was one that used both the luxe + luxe equation as well as applied principles of the color rule with the gold and black metallic accessories and sequin dress.
You can also keep these luxe looks ‘simple’ by keeping the accessories to a minimum and just sticking with pairing two luxe textures. Adding in an element of fur makes this one really easy as it often serves as an actual piece of your outfit and an accessory all in one.
And sometimes you luck out and designers make this a total no-brainer altogether by offering up pieces that come pre texture mixed such as the dress below. The neckline was made up of a beautiful and elaborate design while the body of the dress was a printed bodycon silhouette in a totally different structure. With pieces like this you really don’t need jewelry either so this was pretty much zip up the dress, throw on some nude heels, and voila you’re done.
I know, I know. You’ve just read through this entire post of pictures and rules and here you are feeling like you’re ready to go out and master the how to’s of texture and then here I am to throw this curveball.
But! And this is a big but (heh) – this rule is just as important as the others above. It may even be THE most important. I love to give tips and tricks on current trends or taking risks because I want you guys to feel as confident as I do with the things you want to wear. Honestly the biggest key to pulling off some of the more daring (or what I’m sure others may call ridiculous) styles I have tried is simply having the confidence to wear it and wear it proudly. But it’s really important to keep in mind that your fashion choices are all about you, your comfort level, and what you are feeling or not feeling. If you have an idea on mixing some textures that you just aren’t sure about and it doesn’t fit into the rules above but YOU feel like it might work? Go for it anyway. Take the risk and trust yourself that you can and are pulling it off. If you decide it wasn’t your favorite? That’s okay. You don’t have to wear it ever again. But some days you need to just do whatever you want and wear what YOU decide is going to make you feel like your best self.
When I was about 11 or 12 I had just gotten ready to run some errands with my mom. I was wearing a ribbed knit navy blue t-shirt with stripes, a jersey maxi skirt in cobalt blue, a dark blue suede jacket that was actually hers that hit mid-thigh on me at the time, and sneakers in yet another blue tone. I had so much texture going on, every shade of blue in the spectrum, and with no rhyme or reason but young me was feeling it. I remember my mom looked at me, did a double take, and I held my breath because I was so proud of my outfit but I knew whatever her opinion was would make or break how I felt in the end. She must have seen that in my face because she just smiled and asked ‘Are you ready to go?’. She didn’t laugh at me, she didn’t say that my outfit was ridiculous (which looking back I can admit it probably was), she didn’t demand I change or even ask why I was wearing her jacket. She just asked if I was ready to go. And I can remember all of these details so vividly because it was a turning point for me – her allowing me the decision to wear what I wanted and going out in public with me while holding back any negative commentary made me feel a confidence that I hadn’t known before and I remember walking around Target with her feeling like I just won the lottery in my ridiculous little blue outfit.
Basically just remember this: Keep the FCXO Four Fabric Fundamentals in mind when you are experimenting and trying out your new ideas but also give yourself a chance to have your blue outfit moment. I promise you won’t regret it.