When it comes to fabric, everyone wants to work with the best. From silk to cashmere, designers only use the top tier. But, sometimes your budget and your vision don’t meet eye to eye and you need a fabulous fabric to keep your style exquisite. Let’s take a look at the most lavish fabrics on the runway, and what alternative fabrics you can use that will keep your garments from looking cheap.
Although many people think of polyester when they need an alternative, and for good reason, it’s not the only option. From faux fur to rayon, synthetic and alternative fabrics have been getting better as technology and manufacturing evolve and advance.
Replace Cashmere with Merino Wool
Cashmere, the ultimate in luxury and leisure. Who hasn’t longed for a cashmere cardigan for relaxing in the Alps, or a shawl for cocktail parties in the Hamptons? Produced from the underbelly hair fiber of the Kashmir Goat, cashmere is notoriously soft and incredibly warm. Perfect for sweaters, robes, and shawls, this fine fabric is hard to produce and somewhat scarce.
Merino Wool comes from the Merino Sheep. Although Merino Sheep come from Spain, they are incredibly adaptable, making the production of their wool easier than cashmere. Today, most Merino Sheep are raised in New Zealand and Australia. The wool is not itchy, since it is very fine and soft. This makes Merino Wool an excellent substitute for cashmere.
Emporio Armani creates a stunning cashmere winter jacket, utilizing long fur for the collar, while Kiton and TSE both went for shorter fall jackets. Create these looks, and more with Merino Wool.
Get more with Merino Wool:
Replace Real Fur with Faux Fur
Real Fur is seen hanging around the shoulders of elegant women, shopping on 5th avenue and drinking hot cocoa in horse-drawn carriages. Fur garments are seen as the most luxurious, a staple on the runway. Although there has been a sharp decline in the use of fur, with companies like Gucci officially switching to faux furs, there are many in the fashion industry who still utilize real fur. Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel and Alexander Wang just two examples of furs position on the runway.
Faux Fur is typically made of synthetic fabrics, like acrylic. Although some require dry cleaning, many can be machine washed, making them an easier fabric to care for than real fur. For many, using real fur is an issue of ethics, and faux fur allows them to look luxurious while committing to their personal values.
Chanel features a stunning fur cape and plays up the opulence with some well-placed pearls. Saint Laurent’s little black coat is simple, yet striking, and Fendi’s coat features cape sleeves that remind us that the designer is in the details.
Get real with these faux furs:
Replace Silk Chiffon with Polyester Chiffon
Chiffon is the sheer fabric utilized for eveningwear and lingerie. Made of silk, it is fine, slippery and upon close inspection resembles a net or mesh. Perfect for overlays and creating provocative silhouettes, it can be difficult to sew with and can be delicate. Silk is made from the cocoon of the silkworm.
Polyester Chiffon, also utilized for alluring or dramatic styles, maintains the fine feel of silk chiffon but it can withstand the washer. Polyester is a synthetic fiber, it is basically what faux fur is to real fur.
Dundas’ chiffon purple cape features golden embroidery, saturating this silhouette with regal overtones, while Mulberry makes use of marabou feathers to instill their dress with a posh aesthetic. Awaveawakes angelic slipdress and chiffon cape would be ideal for modern bridal wear.
Take a look at these Polyester Chiffons:
Replace Silk Crepe with Rayon Crepe
Silk Crepe features a grainy hand and varies in weight and opacity. Although crepe is often considered an eveningwear fabric, it can also be used for more casual garments. There are a variety of crepes, including georgette, plisse, and crepe de chine.
Rayon is an excellent choice when it comes to alternative fabrics across the board. Rayon is considered a semi-synthetic fabric, as it is created from wood pulp that has been converted into a soluble compound. It is lightweight, soft, and durable, making rayon crepe perfect for longlasting eveningwear.
Belstaff’s crinkled crepe brings texture and depth to an otherwise relaxed silhouette, while Akris’ slitted skirt and deep v neck are complimented beautifully by the subtle blue crepe. Sara Battaglia’s emerald crepe double-cloth suit and matching pussycat blouse is a piece of art, paired beautifully with simple white sneakers and a circular handbag.
Check out these Rayon Crepes:
Replace Silk Satin with Mercerized Cotton
Satin features a glossy hand and matte back. It is often used in leisurewear, from high-end bomber jackets and blouses to lingerie and eveningwear. There are several types of satin, such as charmeuse and duchesse. Due to the slippery nature of satin, it can be difficult to sew with.
Mercerization is a treatment in which cotton and other cellulosic materials are made stronger and given more of a shine. This treatment was created in 1844 in England, but it was updated to its modern form in 1890. Due to its lustrous shone, Mercerized Cotton is an excellent substitute for silk satin.
Alberta Ferretti and Audra fashion relaxed evening gowns with silk satin, letting the heavy drape show off the sheen of satin. Viktor & Rolf featured a beautiful mini dress with a boxy shape and short sleeves, attaching daisies that truly pop on the green satin.
Recreate these satin looks with Mood’s Mercerized Cotton:
What are your favorite alternative fabrics to use? Let me know in the comments!