A capsule wardrobe is a carefully curated collection of 30-40 really quality pieces that all look great, fit well, and go together in a myriad of ways, typically for a particular season. It’s kind of the holy grail for women who stand in front of a closet brimming with stuff and still have nothing to wear. It’s a great concept, but what about the stuff we knit? Do they fit in? How do you make it all work?
The answers are, yes, handknits definitely fit, and you have to make a plan and get some basics. Let's look
A lot of knitters don’t really think of their handknits as clothes. I get it. This thing you’re created is precious. You brought it into being with your own hands. You poured your heart and soul into it. Of course it’s special, but it’s not actually a newborn baby. Its intended purpose is to be worn and enjoyed. Every piece. I think it’s kind of a crime not to wear your hand knits. Being worn and loved and washed again and again is, in fact, a handknit garment’s highest calling. Which makes handknit sweaters the perfect element for a capsule wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe depends on each piece being wonderful and working together with all the other things in your wardrobe. Style consultant Jennifer Mackey-Mary talks about having a set of basics and layering pieces that form the structure of your wardrobe. She has a list of basics that includes
Basic crew neck sweater
Long sleeved top in black and white
If you have a couple of these basics, like black pants and a black shell, then just about anything you’ve knit will go with that, and make your handknit sweater a statement.
But not every handknit needs to be a statement piece. What Macky-Mary’s list of essential wardrobe items tells you is that you need pieces you can use together. What I'm telling you is that you can knit them. Why not knit a black tee, a cream colored shell, a gray cardigan, a striped sweater, and a cozy sweatshirt. The key is to think of them as elements of a wardrobe and to choose a cohesive palette.
The problem is that when we’re choosing yarn, we forget that what we’re knitting is a wardrobe item and that it’s supposed to play nicely with other things in our closet. Yes, you can always wear it with black, but you’ll get more chances to wear it if it goes with a lot of different things you already have.
In the shop, I often hear knitters see a sample in olive green and say “Oh, that looks so nice in that green. I don’t really like green, but it looks so great. I really love the purple, but everything in my wardrobe is purple, so I’m going to branch out and knit this olive green.”
In my head I’m thinking, “Oh, my dear, sweet knitter, please do not do this. That lovely olive green only looks so good because everything the model is wearing and everything else in the pattern collection is specially designed and selected in a palette that goes with and showcases olive green. . Your wardrobe at home looks nothing like that. Choose the purple so it will go with the clothes you already have and you’ll actually have something to wear it with.” Sigh.
The designers for Mode at Rowan and Kim Hargreaves are masters at putting together a cohesive collection designed to help you create a handknit capsule wardrobe. Check out Kim’s most recent book, Drift, and you’ll see what I mean. Better yet, come by the shop and see the trunk show. Every single garment from the collection is in the shop, for you to see and feel. Take a look at how she’s used gray and taupe and white as her neutrals with an accent of pink. It could have been green, or purple, or red - doesn’t matter. The point is that the accent is consistent so the pieces could go together. As you choose yarn for projects, think about what are your own neutrals and your own accent color. Defer to those colors and to colors that go with them and you’ll be on your way to building a handknit wardrobe that works and always looks pulled together.
Come see the Kim Hargreaves trunk show, or if you’re not local, tune in and watch it live Wednesday at 7pm. I look forward to seeing you then.