Matching The Weight Of Fabrics

Happy Tuesday, ladies. Outfits usually look most cohesive when the weight of the fabric in the separates is close or similar. Today’s post illustrates what happens when you get it wrong. I saw this mannequin last week and instantly felt the struggle.

We are between seasons plus many stores are having delivery delays. The upshot is the selections are limited at many retailers. The staff didn’t have too many options to style this mannequin so I challenged myself to do better.

As always you can click the red text for more info and to shop the items.


The top and bottom have a totally different vibe. The skirt is body-conscious with a modern, urban edge in fine-weight knit. The blouse is a loose-fitting, woven fabric with a sheer overlay and ruffled neckline. They show it online styled with a denim jacket which looks great, but it was not in the store.

I searched high and low for a jacket or structured top to put with this skirt. There was nothing in the store (and trust me I checked every rack) so I went with all they had, a few black pullovers.woman showing why matching weight of fabric makes a more cohesive outfit

This midi skirt is 30″ long. Since I’m just 5’4″ I decided to roll the waistband to make it a more flattering length. I shared some tips on skirt length here How To Wear A Midi Skirt.

The outfit on the left is boxy and drab. The wide crewneck widens the look of my shoulders slightly which isn’t flattering with a slim pencil shirt. The top and skirt create a 50/50 visual split and make my legs look shorter.

Style Tip – The golden mean or rule of thirds originated with the ancient Greeks who discovered that a 1/3 – 2/3 division of spaces is the most visually pleasing. This is often called the rule of thirds and applies to fashion because the visual lines of fashion divide our bodies. It is most flattering to dress using the golden mean.

The top in the middle outfit is too heavy and overwhelms the skirt. I rolled the waistband twice here which feels too short. It also creates a 50/50 visual split which is less than optimal in an outfit.

I prefer the look on the right for several reasons. I rolled the waistband just once and prefer this length with the top plus it’s more flattering on my leg. The weight and bulk of the top are a better match for the skirt and continue the body-conscious theme. The mock neck adds simplicity and sleekness to the outfit. I would not wear a necklace with this outfit because it would break up the line of the torso. The ratio is better than 50/50 but would be improved even with a slightly shorter top.

It’s not as easy to combine a woven with a knit but paying attention to the weight of the fabric is a big help.

Do you mix weights and knits with woven?

new arrivals at Loft and a peek at the new colors coming our way

Thanks for reading ladies and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.


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  1. I have a very similar skirt that I too wear with a black cashmere sweater or cardigan, black opaque tights and black boots.

  2. Jennifer, I can’t thank you enough for the tips you share. The rule of thirds makes so much sense! Your lessons in what works are giving me a long overdue education in how to dress. I would have completely ignored that mannequin and looked for my usual drab style. You have taught me to look at things differently and how to style outfits that create a new me. Thank you, thank you!

    1. I am so happy to hear that, Karen. Thanks for letting me know.

  3. Carol Eberhardt says:

    The third look is best. Now, this is just my opinion, not intending to offend anyone, but animal prints are not something I would choose. I’m very tired of them, they have been around for ages which I guess means they are “classic”, but so many women of “a certain age” seem to think more is better. So the cheetah sleeveless with the cheetah sweater with the cheetah bangle and earrings … too much. I once had a tiny cheetah print sweater, tan and black, I wore black under it with black jeans. I also have a bracket with an animal print band and turquoise stones. I did not wear it with the sweater! But that’s as animal as I get!
    Of course, the skirt looks great on you, coupled with black, I can handle it! Looks good. I get why it looks good, good lesson about fabric weight and length, and the 1/3 rule.

    1. Animal print does get over done, often. I agree

  4. Interesting-like the others, the third picture looked the best-thanks for the explanation! Now, for my question, I seem to always think I need a necklace to compliment an outfit, maybe I’m old school, but can you help me understand why I shouldn’t do so? Thanks!

    1. Necklaces are wonderful and could work nicely here. Since I’m trying to enlighten the outfit look, I’d skip a necklace which would stop the eye from moving up and down the silhouette.

  5. Great visual with the three pics side by side!

  6. Elaine @ Following Augustine says:

    I knew instinctually that the outfit on the right looked best, but your explanation about why was very helpful.

  7. I try to match up the weight of my fabrics usually. You can readily see in your 3 shots that the one on the right looks the best! The visual is great!
    The mannequin does look a little strange, but I wouldn’t have known why.

  8. I’ve noticed as I am sure a lot of us have that one trend for younger women (e.g., BR models) is to wear a chunky sweater with a satin, slip-type skirt. I’ve never liked it but now know why. As you say it’s the fabric weights fighting one another. Your remodel (far right) made all the difference. About the 1/3 2/3, I like the look of a longer sweater over a shorter skirt, where the 2/3 is on the top. I’m 5′ 2/5″ and it works for me — or at least it did while I was working. I don’t have much opportunity to wear a skirt these days. Great info, thanks!

  9. Jennifer, This was a very informative post. I could see the mannequin didn’t look visually appealing but couldn’t work out what was wrong. It was also helpful to see the rule of thirds illustrated and to note the change a different hem length or weight of top made. I often know something isn’t right with an outfit I’ve styled and hopefully now this will help me see what needs to be changed

  10. This comments relates to the annoying serviceman who ignored your information about your furnace.
    If your husband wasn’t there he would have to listen to you. As a widow I have learned that without a man present he will have to hear you. Before your husband leaves the room he can give YOU his opinion.

  11. The outfit on the mannequin is unattractive. However, I don’t have an issue mixing the two fabrics. For me, the problem is the way the skirt is styled. It looks like a high-waisted pencil skirt. The best tops to pair with this skirt hit just below the waistband above the tummy or tucked! Other factors to consider when choosing tops are body shape and proportion. One rule of thumb is – if you are skinny on the bottom, add volume to the top or vice-versa.

  12. Well, the mannequin was intentionally styled that way. Loft shows the pieces together in it’s “How to Wear It” and “Shop the Look” sections. I wish more online sellers would include those styling tips. I know it helps me to see the possibilities of a piece I’m considering.

    1. Interesting! I had no idea!

  13. Yes, proportion is so important, especially for petites. Thanks for the visual of this.

  14. I love the top and the skirt but not together.
    The top would look great with any kind of pant or jean or leggings.
    Love what you did with the skirt and the turtle neck. What a difference.
    I guess somethings just don’t belong together.

    1. Jennifer, please do the same demonstration with pants and shorts. As a tall person, I can’t wait until ankle pants and crops go away!!! Our long legs appear to be shoved into kids pants. Yes, long legs can look like sewer (worse than stove) pipes when cut at the wrong length.

      I’d wear the chiffon blouse with straight jeans and black leather loafers or booties. I love the contrast and ease.

      1. Sounds good, I will work on one.

  15. Francesca B. says:

    Thank you Jennifer for illustrating that, now l get it! I think the skirt is a winner now with the mock neck, something l would wear, whereas before on the mannequin l would have passed right on by… interesting.
    Have an easy week:)

    1. Thanks, Francesca. I could use an easy week 🙂

  16. Another interesting post Jennifer. I love your visual explanation of the rule of thirds. So often we look in the mirror and can tell the proportion is off, but don’t know why. This really shows the difference.

  17. You are so right about everything in this post! The beautiful lacy top with the skirt don’t do justice to each other. I like both of them, but not with each other. And somehow I missed the 1/3 – 2/3 rule all these years, but your illustration makes it clear and I will now remember it. Thank you for this advice.

  18. So fun to see your creative ideas. I agree number 3 does look much better. Would you ever wear a shirt tucked in with the skirt? I’ve just seen that out there. I rarely wear a dress or skirt anymore so I’m out of the loop there. Thanks for trying on outfits for us. Love it!

    1. I think anything tucked in would look lumpy because the skirt is so slim, so I would prefer to ruche a sweater at the high hip or waistline.

  19. Omaha Janette says:

    The outfit on the right looks so much better. Thank you for showing the 3 different ways. WOW! What a difference. Now for me to remember it when I put my outfits together.

  20. I like the top in #3 agreeing it could be a bit shorter, but I’d go with a skirt length right between #2 and #3. I know it’s only an inch or two, but I think #3 would look dumpy on me. Just below the knee for me. I’m 5′ at 115 pounds with narrow shoulders and feel I need a bit more leg from the skirt to my shoes. So much fun to see what you’ve come up with every day!

  21. I am familiar with the rule of thirds but your 3 examples really helped me “see” it. Thank you, Jennifer.

    1. Same. I’ve never heard this principle and the pics helped my visual learner tendencies! Thank you!

      1. I will do more of it because I learn visually too.

  22. I really like both pieces on the mannequin but just not together. I agree with your choice of top for the midi skirt. Your last pic is most flattering.

  23. When you see it, you can do it! Creating that cohesive style is much like arranging your living room in a grouping that is functional and eye pleasing.
    I am probably in the minority but I find that exposed knees are more of a distraction than attractive.
    I do feel that a confident, spirited lady could definitely wear the Miss Mannequin look today!
    Thanks for a very useful lesson in how a few simple tweaks can have a huge impact on the overall finished look.

    1. I’m finding exposed knees distracting too.

  24. SuzanneGabrielle says:

    You did a great job and I really love the look on the right. It would look great with black flats or tights and boots.

    1. Exactly! Black tights and black boots or booties

      1. That would look great together

    2. Thanks so much for such an instructive visit. I’d never heard of the 1/3 2/3 theory, but when viewing the 3 outfits I was immediately drawn to the third. I’ve learned something today, and before I finished my first cup of coffee!

      1. Lol, I’m glad it resonated with you.

  25. Paulette Levy says:

    I probably don’t mix weights of fabrics; our climate probably has a lot to do with it. We seem to be extremely chilly or cold in winter and spring then hot and humid in summer. The fabrics I choose would be complementary I think. Now Autumn is another story. We have summery mild days in September and early October which morph into cool mornings followed by warm afternoons only. That’s when I could possibly mix weights. Hopefully not! I do think your choice in rolling this featured skirt just once and paired with the turtleneck the very best version!

    1. Great point about the season, Paulette

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