I’m continuing with my series of easy style tips today – in last Friday’s post we talked about using accessories to add new life to outfits, this week I want to look a little more at using texture with winter outfits. You see texture is a tool that you can’t use as well in summer but at this time of year it comes into its own. Before we get into it though, as I go on to talk about texture I’ll be illustrating it with this month’s Boden edit so let’s just recap on what’s going on there.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that they’re revising their customer strategy, in particular, they’ve realised that they’d turned away from their core customer. As Johnnie Boden said in an interview with The Times, “we forgot who we were. We changed the product too much. We went a bit too young and we upset lots of customers… We had less colour, we had shorter silhouettes and we had the sorts of products that were on trend, which is not very us.” Since then, longstanding customers have received emails from him admitting that they’d “effed up.” And the catalogue is back, in more depth and with much larger print runs. That can only be a good thing – in my view there’s great pleasure to be had in sitting down with a cup of tea and a catalogue filled with the promise of a different kind of life.

I’m hoping that as Boden goes forward we’ll see the return of some of their real hero pieces such as the bistro crops, nothing has ever matched those for a great casual fit in my view. I hope they go back to creating shoes of dreams… and I have my fingers crossed that we’ll see iconic chic classics such as peacoats, fisherman sweaters along with (non-cropped) halterneck tops for summer. In the meantime, it was looking through the first of their revised collections that inspired me to talk about using texture to lift winter outfits.

Using texture with winter outfits

I want you to imagine for a moment a woman wearing a jersey top, a pair of jeans, a canvas jacket and a pair of Converse. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, it’s a core look for some, they can carry it off because it works with their style personality. But for a lot of other people, it’s one of those outfits that renders invisibility. Why? Because everything is in the same flat texture. You see when the eye moves across an outfit it looks for interest.. for somewhere to land. And without texture there isn’t anything to hold it and that’s when the invisibility wire is tripped (I know some of you will be thinking that pattern or accessories work in the same way which they can but texture is the subliminal detail that a lot of people overlook). Imagine making a few simple changes to the same outfit. The same style personality could switch the canvas jacket over for a leather one and the Converse for a pair of leather trainers. They’d still feel comfortable in their style zone but the slight change of texture would already be adding more interest for the eye. Others might add a soft jumper… a pair of shiny boots… a chunky necklace… a teddy or faux fur jacket – within one outfit there are so many easy ways of using contrasting texture to bring joy into winter dressing, it’s just a case of being aware of it.

As I’ve already said, it’s more difficult to work with texture in summer because we dress to stay cool so outfits often work around cotton and linen but of course there are also bare arms and legs on show which work to break things up. In winter though we have all kinds of options in both soft and hard textures:

Soft textures

  • Cord
  • Velvet
  • Felted wool
  • Cashmere
  • Soft wool blends
  • Chunky cotton knits
  • Suede
  • Velour
  • Borg/ teddy
  • Satin
  • Silk

Hard textures

  • Leather
  • Patent
  • Coated/waxed fabrics
  • Denim
  • Fine wool suiting
  • Gabardine
  • Crepe
  • Canvas
  • Tulle
  • Lycra
  • Metallics

It might be a surprise to see lycra and tulle as hard textures but we’re talking about the impact they have on sight not touch. It’s worth having a think through your wardrobe and what mix and match texture opportunities you have. Working an outfit uniquely around softs or hards can have impact at the ends of the scale too – an all soft outfit of cashmere, felted wool trousers, suede boots and a soft wool coat would look superluxe. A lycra dress with a leather coat and metallic boots would have lots of chutzpah. Next time you’re feeling an outfit lacks oomph it might just be because the texture balance is off. I played around with it a bit for a very uncomplicated Boden edit as you can see here.

Relaxed weekends – using texture with winter outfits

This was last Saturday when I ruined any calorie benefits from an early morning shred session by going out for cake. This is such a lovely time of year to be village based, now that the temperature’s dropped everything feels so cosy. I can’t believe how late the leaves are to fall though, they’re usually more or less off by now but they’re mostly still green, it must be down to the wet summer we had.

I’m wearing one of Boden’s simple jersey shirts in ivory. It’s made from a cotton and tencel blend which gives it a slubby texture and makes it more interesting than standard jersey. The slightly ruffled trim adds to the interest, I’m wearing a 12 and it’s true to size. I’ve paired it with a simple merino tank top which has a loose textured knit in a medium weight yarn so it looks like a chunky winter weight. I’m wearing a medium and would probably recommend a size down for my preferred neater fit.

Using texture with winter outfits

Tank top; jersey blouse

Building on the texture even more I’ve added this faux fur jacket which has gone straight to the top of my ‘boosts everything you wear it with’ category for this season. I usually find that faux fur coats and jackets are cut loose or oversized and that, added with the fluffy texture, makes me feel like a huge polar bear. I guess it aims for the Joan Collins/Alexis Colby in Dynasty luxe effect but it just doesn’t work for me. This however is in a clean, cropped shape, perfect for wearing with wider trousers or fuller skirts. The softness of the knitted tank top and the and pile of the jacket add texture and contrast to the wide leg denim jeans I’m wearing… and a pair of past season Boden suede boots mixes the texture up yet again.

Using texture with winter outfits

Faux fur jacket; Merino tank top; Jersey shirt; Jeans my own; Boden boots (past season)

Just in case navy isn’t your colour I’m going to leave this here, the same slim cut jacket but in a leopard print.

Using texture with winter outfits

Faux fur jacket

And while we’re on the subject of textured coats I thought I should point out that Boden have reissued this reversible one for AW23 – I know some of you loved it but missed it because it sold through so quickly last year.

Using texture with winter outfits

Reversible coat

It was my most worn coat of the season, I have so many different photos of it – worn for a meeting…

Midlifechic Newcastle winter outfits

Reversible coat

… for the theatre…

Nikki Garnett Newcastle

Reversible coat

… with jeans – this was the end of March and even though it was still cold, it was good to have a lighter colour coat as we approached spring.

Nikki Garnett Newcastle

Reversible coat

Working from home – using texture with winter outfits

This is so easy, the combination of a soft cord dress with leather boots. I have a collection of cord dresses for working from home in winter, they stop me from falling into a jeans and jumper rut. Sometimes I pair them with suede boots for a softer look but I prefer them with leather. At this time of year I’ll add a leather jacket when I pop out too.

Most of the cord dresses I have are very long and full so I was pleased to see this shirtdress version in the latest drop. It makes a nice change and it’s also a bit easier to wear with wellies or trainers. It comes with the matching belt as you can see but I’ll probably swap that out for a wide woven tan leather belt for a bit of added interest. I’m wearing a 12R and it’s true to size – it also comes in navy or pink.

Using texture with winter outfits

Olive green shirtdress; Leather boots

Out out – using texture with winter outfits

This was last Sunday when we went to the new Factory International Arts Centre in Manchester and I just have to tell you about that briefly before we go back to texture – see it as an interval! I bought the tickets for Mal’s birthday a while ago without realising that this was the official opening weekend so it felt exciting to be there.

Using texture with winter outfits

Faux fur jacket, Satin shirt; Red patent shoes; Jewelled earrings (cropped jeans and bag my own)

It’s so rare now to see serious investment being made in the creative industries, especially outside London but this £240m arts venue is impressive. It has both a traditional theatre as well as the Aviva studios huge performance space and the great thing about it is that it’s intended to give everyone access to art and performance. There’s an affordable ticket option for £10 and our standard seats only cost £20 which is incredible for something as spectacular as Free Your Mind directed by Danny Boyle.

I wondered if it was going to be very esoteric given how obsessed with every tiny detail the Matrix fans can be (she says, being married to a creative who watches the movies whenever he works on designs late into the night – and that’s often so he must have seen each one hundreds of times). However I can honestly say that it was the best live performance I’ve ever seen. So, if you don’t know the Matrix movies well, back in 1999 they were a foretelling of the way that technology would take over in the human world. The play took their predictions and illustrated just how prescient they were in light of our modern day thrall to the internet, social media and increasingly, AI.

It began with the simple principle of Descartes’ philosophy of “cogito ergo sum”… questioning where we stand with that now in light of AI. AI thinks by itself after all. It moved on to the most famous of the Matrix quotes, “and for a time it was good.” It’s just incredible that back in 1999 they foresaw that the internet would suck us all in by offering us everything for free until we became dependent on it… as we have. And that then everything would start to disappear behind a paywall… as we’re seeing with subscriptions, memberships, the end of free delivery and returns etc.

Here’s Amazon depicted through hiphop dance…

Using texture with winter outfits

… mankind’s obsession with mobile phones… and the way that some achieve their sense of relevance by something as shallow as a blue tick.

Using texture with winter outfits

It ended with the concept of the AI machines telling humans that like the dinosaurs, we’ve had our time. The implication being that unless we fight it, AI will take over now – that this is simply a new phase of the world’s evolution. The whole thing was part play, part hip hop dance performance which was just stunning, especially as it included all kinds of dancers regardless of race, size, age or disability. If you have the chance to see it then do, it’s worth travelling to Manchester for. Apparently it’s unlikely to go on tour because it was designed for the new performance space so it would be hard to translate elsewhere. It closes on 5th November – tickets here.

Anyway, back to texture and Boden. The interval was an immersive experience hence the white rabbit creeping up behind me here. Back to texture, I was wearing this satin blouse which is in the most beautiful shade of blue – I notice that Boden have warmed a lot of their navy up this season which makes it much more flattering. It’s designed to be fitted so if you’re in between sizes go up because there’s no stretch in the fabric. It’s a brilliant piece to have in your wardrobe because it will elevate any simple outfit all by itself. It comes in a jewelled pink or green as well as classic black.

Using texture with winter outfits

Satin blouse; jewelled earrings

I contrasted the shiny satin with a pair of matte cropped jeans that I’ve had for years and then picked up the sheen again with patent heels. I’ve had my eye on these for a while because I knew they’d add a pop to so many of my outfits. They have a round toe and a block heel so they’re much easier to walk in than the stilettos that are starting to reappear everywhere. I’m wearing my usual size and they’re a perfect fit.

Using texture with winter outfits

Patent heels

Here’s the full outfit, worn with the fur jacket again because it was chilly. I added a metallic red bag for extra texture, it picked up the shoes without being too matchy.

Nikki Garnett Midlifechic

Faux fur jacket, Satin shirt; Red patent shoes; Jewelled earrings (cropped jeans and bag my own)

So that’s a little more food for thought on using texture with winter outfits. It’s a subtle adjustment but it does make a difference to the look and feel of whatever you wear. There will be a brief 25% offer at Boden on Sunday but it’s a diminishing discount that goes down every day so be quick if you want to catch it. I’ll be back on Tuesday with another retail review but first we have the weekend. We’re over in Newcastle to spend some time with mum-in-law and then we have tickets we booked over a year ago for what I hope will be a dance marathon. 2023’s been a good year so far apart from a distinct lack of dancing, it’s time to make up for it. I’m just hoping Storm Babet doesn’t impact things – it’s looking like a bad one for the East. Stay warm and dry wherever you are and I’ll see you next week.

Disclosure: ‘Using texture with winter outfits’ was an edit commissioned by Boden but as always I had full control over outfits, content and context

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