Knits and woven fabric each have a place in a woman's wardrobe. One fabric offers more fixed construction and structure for architectural appeal, while the other stretches and recovers for elegant style you can indulge in all day.
Learn the main differences between weaving and knitting, the best qualities of each fabric, and how to style knit v. woven pieces. Curate a closet featuring both materials for a versatile wardrobe that's ready for every occasion.
Knit fabric is made from one continuous fiber, like yarn or thread, which is repeatedly looped to form a garment. If you look closely at a piece of knit clothing, you'll see a pattern that looks like rows of fine braids throughout the material. Because of the way knitwear is made, the resulting soft textiles offer a significant amount of stretchiness for plenty of flexibility and rebound. Different knitting techniques and stitches can create a range of patterns in the resulting fabrics, which is part of what allows St. John Knit textile designers to create our one-of-a-kind fabrics.
Unlike knits, woven materials contain multiple fibers that crisscross each other, much like a grid of rows and columns. This perpendicular grain gives the appearance of a finely woven wicker basket on close inspection. Woven fabrics maintain a more rigid structure with minimal stretch for a crisp, clean appearance. The edges of woven clothing must be finished to keep the fabric from unravelling.
The Difference Between Knit and Woven Material
In addition to the contrasting ways they're made and their varying ability to stretch, one of the main differences between woven and knit materials is the way they fit when worn. Knitwear tends to cling to the body for a closer fit, while woven clothing has a more fixed, tailored construction.
Another key difference is that knit fabric usually doesn’t retain as many wrinkles, even when scrunched. Woven fabric, on the other hand, is more wrinkle-prone but looks very crisp and fresh when ironed and hung.
Knits are breathable, easy to launder, and have a natural recovery that lets them bounce back when stretched. These qualities make knit clothing and sportswear ideal for a range of activities, including travel, casual wear, and – when styled appropriately – professional and formal occasions. Because the fabric hugs the body, knit shirts and dresses stretch effortlessly over the bustline and naturally contour to the waist to flatter your figure with a sleek silhouette.
Benefits of Woven Fabric
With defined structure and rich textures, woven apparel elevates professional and formal ensembles with clean, tailored lines and striking silhouettes. Sturdy woven tops, bottoms and outwear can maintain their shape for years, especially when cared for properly. A beautiful counterbalance to the softness and fluidity of knits, well-tailored woven pieces highlight a woman's strength and figure with structured grace.
For flexible, all-day comfort, opt for knit fabrics. Choose knit sportswear for casual errands, events and travel ensembles, layering patterned or solid knit sweaters and cardigans as needed. Wear a knit dress to the office at 8 a.m. and still look fresh for dinner at 6 p.m.
The structural nature of woven fabrics makes them ideal for suiting and other sharp silhouettes, such as button-down shirts, pleated pants, blazers and tailored outerwear like the Bella double weave jacket. Enjoy both the comfort of knit and the structure of weaves by layering a woven jacket over your favorite knit workwear and casual pieces.