The time is
approaching to break out the woollies! For those of us in the northern
hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler.
That means we get
to cozy up around the fireplace with something warm to drink, wrapped in a comfy
sweater. It almost makes giving up our summer sandals worthwhile. Almost…
The main purpose of
knitwear, of course, is to keep us warm. Knitted textiles do so by trapping air
within the fibers of the knit which is then warmed by our body temperature.
But “knits” on
older women have gotten a bad reputation. They can suggest dowdiness. It’s true
that a sagging or frumpy knit garment can age us, especially if it’s looking a little
worse for the wear or is in a color that makes us look invisible, sad, or
So, let’s re-think
what “knit” can mean, starting with the cardigan.
Cardigans – the Long and Short of It
you’ll see the continuation of a trend that started last winter: long cardigans
and sweater coats. They serve as an alternative to a winter coat in milder
climates or for transitional seasons. Most of them are mid-thigh or knee
them collarless, with shawl collars, belted or unbelted, with buttons or without,
hooded, with a large or no pockets, tailored, or oversize, flat weaves or
bulky. Sounds like something for everyone, doesn’t it?
The only body
type that might find this trend difficult is the pear-shaped body, especially
one with sloping shoulders. This coat will spread out around the lower half of
your body and make you look wider at the bottom.
But we’re also
seeing styles of wrapped and belted cardigans that come just above hip length.
This is a nice alternative that will make your shoulders look broader and draw
emphasis up to the face. The surplice-like wrap creates a v-shape drawing the
With shorter, boxy cardigans just make them look like an intentional
part of your outfit. There are some great non-neutral colors this year:
lilacs, peachy pinks, warm reds, marine blues, and olive greens.
A short cardigan
worn with a crisp cotton or silk blouse is a very classic look. Pair it with straight-leg pants or a skirt, tights, and ankle
Or, if you’re really daring, wear it on its own and unbutton
the top two buttons. Style it with trousers or wide-leg pants, add a great
necklace, some low pumps, a simple structured bag and you’ve got a perfect
classic outfit that you’ve taken up a notch.
Whether you travel
or not, but especially if you do, you will absolutely love the trend toward
knit blazers. They are a great alternative to the traditional blazer or cardigan.
Because they are
typically unlined and lack stiffness (which is why we love them) go for
quality. A lower end one might look more casual and unrefined than you want. The
pockets can also tend to droop a bit.
These tend to look
best in one of your darker neutral colors. Wear it to dress up your jeans or
with trousers or ankle pants for a dressier occasion.
Just as a Moto
jacket can toughen up a classic or feminine dress, a blazer can soften up
jeans. (Both combinations create what is called the “hard/soft” look that can
be very fashionable.)
One of the most
exciting trends these days is the poncho. We’ve been moving in this direction
since last year when you started seeing huge oversized wool scarves that were
hard to wrangle. But the poncho just makes so much more sense.
A saleslady at my
favorite boutique says she loves them because they stay put in the way that a
shawl or large knit scarf does not.
You just slip it
over your head, and it leaves your arms loose to carry things without worrying that
it will fall off. It also makes buckling your seatbelt in a car or on a flight
a lot easier.
For warmth, you’re
going to want one that is long enough to drape to your wrist line or slightly
above it. They come in an enormous variety of color, pattern, style, and
textile this year.
Basically, they are
a very “natural” type of garment. That means you won’t be wearing a poncho with
suit pants or a dress. (Of course, now that I’ve said that, you’ll see someone
on a runway wearing a poncho over a dress with thick-soled sneakers…)
Ponchos look best
with skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, or leggings and are best anchored with
boots or booties. You’ll see them styled with boot cut or bellbottom jeans for
a retro hippie look. (Yes, the 70s are back.)
If you are more
classic and/or have some drama in your style, you can wear one with tailored
pants and maybe cinch a belt around the front. That’s a very chic statement.
because they open down the front, appear more like a cape. Those bear the name “ruana.”
As long as it is scaled to your body, and in a color that works for you, almost
everyone can wear this type of poncho.
Scarves, Hats, Gloves
Now, if you can’t
be bothered with that much fabric, knit scarves, especially in plaids and brighter
colors, are perennial neck warmers. But everybody wants to know how to wear
My friend Josephine
Lalwan, who blogs about fashion from her homes in France and Britain, recently explained
that French women are now simply throwing these bulky knit scarves around their
necks and wrapping them very loosely, as if with no concern for specific
shapes. That will be of great relief to many of us who are less clever at the
fine art of scarf tying.
berets, knit cloches – these are also perennials and
essentials for cold weather. They’re showing up this year both with more bulk
and texture in the weave, or in soft, fluffy Angora knits. They pair
beautifully with ponchos.
or arm warmers give you more flexibility in using your hands. But if you have
cold hands, like I do, you really want your hands covered when it gets frosty.
That means knitted gloves. Personally, I prefer cashmere lined leather gloves
Then there are leg
warmers, arm warmers, even things that look like a shrug with arms. If you want
to be really daring, but still stay warm, you can wear a poncho with leggings
and ankle boots, then add a pair of legwarmers over your leggings.
So, not only are
hippie ponchos back, but it looks like the 80s are as well.
Here’s to wishing
you a warm and cozy winter.
favorite knitwear item? Would you wear a poncho? Do you knit for yourself? If so,
what have you made lately? Please share with our community!