In my twenties, I worked on an organic farm and wore nothing but overalls and oversized men’s tee shirts and my only sense of fashion was of a very functional nature, things I could get dirty in, things I could wash a thousand times and wear again to dig in the dirt.
In spite of all this, I used to dream about being an elegant, chic lady. It was how I really wanted to be seen. A lady with pressed pants, a beautiful silk blouse, coiffed (and I mean coiffed) hair, fantastic sunglasses. Someone who was more refined.
It took me a while to trust that a foray into real clothing wouldn’t out me as an imposter. There are a lot of things I’ve tried to wear that were feminine but didn’t feel like ‘me’, and for a long time I never dared approach silk as I assumed it was completely out of my league. Then I happened upon my first Equipment silk button up shirt. It was an inspired purchase after I saw a woman I deeply admired wearing hers, open at the neck, nonchalantly with a pair of jeans. I know, it sounds easy, but I was intimidated! That purchase started a love affair for me with silk shirts, and what I’ve found in wearing silk are things that have surprised me.
First, they are easy.
My silk shirts have become the workhorses of my wardrobe. When worn in place of a tee, they are the pieces in my closet that transform my basic pairings of jeans and tees into an elevated look, and serve to codify a dressier, take-me-seriously vibe without fuss. The look of a silk shirt presents more polished than a tee, but it’s as comfortable to wear. My silk shirts make me feel like I’ve stepped it up a notch while feeling like I’m getting away with something because I’m so comfortable.
Second, they are functional.
Silk shirts are breathable and durable. Silk fibers are incredibly strong, and because silk is a natural fiber, it doesn’t take on odor like synthetic fabrics can. Investment shirts made in silk can last for years without losing shape or suffering fiber breakdown.
Third, they are easy to care for.
Silk can seem intimidating, but it’s actually not difficult to care for, and doesn’t always need to be dry cleaned. Well-made, high quality silk shirts (and dresses and pants) can be hand or machine-washed, hung dry and quickly steamed. Sometimes the look of the fabric becomes a little more ‘raw’, but it isn’t necessarily a detractor to the beauty of the shirt. I see this as a practical solution to the expense, inconvenience, and environmental impact of dry cleaning. My favorite silks are pieces I can wear, wash, and wear over and over again.
For the moms out there, or anyone who regularly ends up with remnants of lunch on their shirts, good silks rarely stain. I’ve spilled or splashed salad dressing, dirty dish water, body products, and essential oils on my silk things and they have mostly always come clean in the wash. Additionally, voluminous shapes in silk can be great options for breastfeeding.
To make the leap to silk, here are some tips:
- Find a shape that you love in classic patterns or solid colors that speak to you.
- Invest in a small handheld steamer to quickly take the wrinkles out of a hang-dried silk item.
- Treat silks like basics and pair shirts with jeans and silk pants with tees.
Some additional notes on silk quality and care:
- Not all silks are created equally. Generally, better quality equals durability and washability. Some brands we’ve had luck with are: Equipment, Megan Park, Lena Medoyeff, Elizabeth Suzann.
- Silks can generally be washed in newer washing machines on the delicate cycle but might appreciate the gentleness of handwashing, especially if it’s a lighter weave.
- Always use a gentle soap designed for cashmere or silk.
- The Janie Stick, which you can find on the Recommended Products list, will remove oil based stains like salad dressing even after a silk blouse has been to the dry cleaners.
- A tip we heard from the gals at Lena Medoyeff: “Keep your satin silks shiny by handwashing in the sink with a little vinegar and dish soap mixed together. Hang dry and you’re ready for the next wear.”
We’ve added silk shirts from several of our go-to brands in the shop. Saunter on over there and get silky!
Good luck and have fun! We’d love to hear about your adventures!
Nicole & Scarlet