In my continuing adventure with clothing out of the mainstream, I have had to hunt down a great deal of fiber and fabric. One would think this would be a fairly straight forward event but it is far more adventuresome than that. Although one might think this is a topic for just women, if you want to be more comfortable in your clothing and surroundings as a man, you too should read on. A good way to be miserable is to be in bad fiber most of the time. If you feel lousy, the cloth against your skin could be part of the problem. If you are a senior, you can make your constant stream of medically related discomforts less burdensome by wearing better fiber. As Jim's Mom's medical conditions mounted, we tried to get her to use different fabrics. However, she had become a big polyester lover in the 1970s and never gave it up. So her fabrics made her hotter in the summer and colder in the winter! We eventually got her to use some cashmere in the winter, which is wonderful for combating the cold, but we had little luck converting her to summer fabrics which were cooling.
Another limitation is the type of silk. The most readily available silk yardages are shantung, dupioni, habitoai, and crepe. There is a lot of chiffon and taffeta but I eliminate them for sheerness and stiffness. All other forms of it are harder to find. They are mostly available in solid colors.
Contrary to popular belief, if you buy silk yardage, you can wash it and dry it and then make it into something. Thereafter you can continue to wash and dry it. It changes the surface, making it more like sandwashed silk which I like better. It will shrink some on that first wash and dry but, after that, it is tough as nails. Wear the heck out of it for year after year. The solids in silk yardage tend to be more attractive than the prints. Often the best solution in silk yardage if you want a print is to paint or dye your own.
In ready to wear clothing, the situation with silk is quite different. It tends to be expensive, dry clean only and there is a tendency to line it with cheaper materials. These factors significantly detract from the ready to wear silk experience. If you have only worn dry cleanable silk and/or lined silk, you have been missing the true silk experience.
Rayon is often nice as a fabric blend. Rayon blended with any other fabric mentioned in this entry makes a delightful fabric and lessens the shrinkage problem. It drapes beautifully and feels great against the skin. Linen is also a great blend because it tends to reduce the wrinkle factor. Linen and rayon as a blend together can solve all of the other's problems, as shown in the above pink plaid.
I have increasingly started to mix all of the above fabrics together so that now one part of the garment is cotton, while another is silk and yet another is rayon. It works surprisingly well.
If you have no sewing skills but want to have a garment or two made from fabric which is pleasurable, as stated above, then consider hiring a seamstress or tailor in your community to do it for you. Wash and dry the fabric yourself before taking it in to get the maximum benefit. We have a lot of immigrants from Russia in the Cleveland area and many of them have brought tremendous craftsman skills from there. One of them altered some garments for me and I was amazed at his workmanship. Supposedly these skills are being rekindled in the USA but plentiful ready to wear put a damper on developing these craft skills for decades.