The Undeniable Allure of Upholstery Fabric

As if my complex relationship with printed fabrics weren’t a heavy enough burden . . . now is as good a time as any to confess my weakness for brocades.

So much to love about brocades. They’re:

  • shiny, except when they’re plush and that’s good, too;
  • complex;
  • rich!

But . . . they are also busy and stiff and look better on sofas than on people.
And yet . . .

full length
Check out my brocade skirt

Directrice sporting a brocade skirt despite intellectual misgivings
The heart wants what the heart wants.
I’d love this skirt on the basis of the brocade alone . . . but there’s more. Jacquard!
This skirt defies logic. If I were wrapped and covered in brocade, I would be overwhelmed by the pattern. Similarly, if I were wrapped and covered in this stiff jacquard, I would be overwhelmed by the fabric. Thusly, I should be overwhelmed by this stiff, busy skirt. Instead, this patchwork of busy and stiff fabrics strikes the perfect balance, which is particularly mystifying when you consider that the seams and contrasts of pieced-work add another dimension of visual complexity. So interesting, how the eye is fooled.

The brocade is a dark, inky blue and the jacquard combines dark grey, navy, and royal blue. Perhaps the skirt would look best with an inky blue or dark grey sweater, but I don’t have a fitted sweater in either of those colors, so I’ve paired it with black.
fabric up close
Here I can only offer an explanation that I frequently have used to explain decisions about proportions and height in the framing and hanging of art: The eye is fooled

I am a little embarrassed (un peu) to admit that I have three fitted black sweaters — but each has a different neckline, sleeve, and silhouette. I tried all of them and decided the shape and length of these little cap sleeves worked best with this a-line skirt.
I also wavered on whether or not the sweater should be tucked in. Although I was concerned that the skirt’s yoke would create too many horizontal lines (shortening lines!), I think that the look is more polished when the sweater is tucked in. Taking a step back, it kind of looks like a sumptuous dress.
Perhaps you are wishing that you could see photos showing the rejected sweaters and the untucked silhouette? Good idea! If only I had thought to take such pictures.
You want me to turn to my left?
I am afraid you will just have to trust me this time

Would you like to see the piecing and asymmetry in this skirt? Should I turn to my left?
I can't do that
I can’t do that
I always turn to my right
I always turn to my right

Skirt: Hache from YOOX; Sweater: JCrew; Shoes: Tory Burch Twiggie Mismatched Low-heeled Pumps; Bag: Coach

10 thoughts on “The Undeniable Allure of Upholstery Fabric”

  1. I like the black shirt with the skirt, it looks polished and makes the skirt stand out. The skirt reminds me of the wing chair in my Great Room, but who says that’s a bad thing? It’s my favorite place to sit and read, take in the beautiful views out the windows, and to sip tea and hot cocoa. Who wouldn’t want to recollect those positive thoughts during a demanding and stressful work day? I like clothes that trigger positive and happy thoughts.

  2. The outfit is spectacular and the colors, including black, bring an unexpected elegance from the textures and the architecture of what looks like a dress. Great result and gave you something you were wanting from that fabric. Love it. Kate

  3. I like that skirt. The horizontal line at the yoke is cancelled out by the flattening properties of the yoke and the flattering flare of the skirt.
    Tummies that have had a few too many glasses of eggnog can use a little flattening.

  4. I love a skirt made of substantial fabric. And it’s a good shape, since the hardy fabric may cause “riding up” if it’s too narrow. Very nice – and the brocade lends an elegance.


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