I feel as though prints and patterns are the quintessence of American girl style—from the psychedelic patterns of the ‘60s, to the paisley prints of the ‘70s and animal prints of the ‘80s. But none of those have ever been my cup of tea. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a minimalist or someone who dresses only in basics, but I am much more likely to experiment with bold colors, unique silhouettes and interesting textures than I am with quirky prints.
Textured winter textiles are obvious. From cable knit, to corduroy, to flannel, the possibilities seem endless. I love and wear these fabrics constantly in the cold months but, unfortunately, none of these translate to summer-wear very well. Imagine wearing your favorite Merino wool cable knit sweater on a day that’s 80+ degrees—yuck, talk about sweat-central! When I try to think of tactile textiles for summer, the options seem to be less abundant. I’ve done the research and compiled a list of attention-grabbing textiles that are breathable and perfect for summer and come in on-trend garments waiting to be “added to cart.” So, as every other girl breaks out her favorite floral dress this spring, you’ll have equally interestingly textured garments lined up in your fashion arsenal.
When I think of seersucker I think Fourth of July picnics, Lily Pulitzer and exuding a youthful vibe. But seersucker is a truly awesome slack-tension, woven fabric that is practically synonymous with summer itself. Identifiable by its bumpy, puckered texture, this fabric has both visual and tactile interest. With a modern revamp, seersucker tube tops can be incredibly on-trend with high-waist or paperbag-waist shorts and some leather slide-ons. “Tube tops are a summer staple [and seersucker ones] are so cute especially with a wavy hem,” exclaims fashion merchandising junior, Bella Stephan.
Pleats + Pintucks
Pleats and pintucks are finishes that give a garment some depth. There are many kinds of pleats from accordion pleats, to box pleats, to knife pleats. They can be permanently pressed into a variety of textiles from a stiff cotton duck to a fluid charmeuse. Airier fabrics, like a chiffon, are ideal for summer weather. If you’re not yet ready to commit to a fully pleated garment, pintucks are a more demure style detail that add some visual interest. Both pleats and pintucks translate beautifully into workwear, so if you’re looking for some summer wardrobe staples for office days, look no further (although the next materials may give you some inspiration too!).
Crepe + Georgette
Crepe is a very tactile material made from highly twisted yarns. The result is an almost coarse hand that looks mildly pilled. Georgette is a type of crepe fabric that is more lightweight than chiffon. Georgette may be a little more light and airy for hot summer days but crepe is definitely a great alternative for spring. This red blouse from H&M is a dotted swiss georgette. The polka dots are very subtle as they are flocked onto the garment
Lace + Crochet + Burnout
Admittedly, lace, crochet, and burnout are quite different fabrics but they are all semi-transparent and so I’ve lumped them together for this purpose. Lace evokes a bohemian summer vibe in my mind—I think free spirits, summer weddings, and feminine style details. This lace kimono from Free People is the perfect example of how a full lace garment can be practical and casual. Up next is crochet and, again, I immediately think of the brand Aerie and summer beach cover ups. “I love wearing crochet tops and dresses to the beach in the summer,” says fashion merchandising junior Darby Hetrick. Crochet is a perfect knitted garment to be dressed in because you can show off a cute swimsuit underneath. Finally, burnout is a technique that semi-dissolves fibers so some portions are left more transparent than others. In this Forever 21 active wear top, the effect is marbled.
Linen + Eyelet embroidery
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the ultimate summer fabric—linen. Being made from a natural fiber like flax, linen is super breathable, durable, and moisture absorbing. It has a visual texture of looking crosshatched often times. Its heavyweight sister poplin is regarded as a superior office-wear material, yet has little texture. Poplin, however, can often feature interesting eyelet embroidery, as can linen.
By no means is this a comprehensive list of interesting summer fabrics, but it’s a start. Hopefully now when you start shopping for your next summer vacation you’ll grab a pleated, not polka dotted, dress.