I’ve been talking a lot lately about getting a garment to fit and look great. We’ve worked on taking measurements, finishing, and more. But knitting a sweater you love to wear is about more than just fit and finish. It’s about whether or not it suits you - your personal style and your lifestyle.
Fashion and style are related, but different. Fashion is external - it’s about what general populace is wearing and what is trending. Style, on the other hand, is, well, personal. It’s an aesthetic through which we express ourselves -- from the way we wear our hair, to the handbags we carry, and the clothes we choose.
Personal style develops slowly as we mature and gain confidence in our sense of self. We don’t need someone else to tell us what to wear. We know what we like and what makes us feel like ourselves. Even so, it can be tricky to stay true to ourselves when clothing stores and fashion magazines showaspirational lifestyle images,and promote looks that may be far away from our own personal style. How many times have we ended up with some garment that looked so great in the picture, only to leave it unworn because it just makes us uncomfortable.
That discomfort in wearing something isn’t about whether it fits you. Something that fits your body perfectly may not fit your personal aesthetic at all, and it might as well be two sizes too big or small. You will never wear it.
Sweater knitting is exactly the same. Get caught up in that aspirational image of the woman in the beautiful heavily cabled sweater walking on the Scottish Moors and pretty soon you’ll have a sweater you don’t wear because you run hot, or you live in Florida, or both.
Or that lovely sweater with the floaty bell sleeves that looks so romantic on the model, but makes you feel ridiculous.
Mostly, we know our own style, but knitting adds an additional layer of complexity because we can’t try it on, and we can’t just send it back. I know there are plenty of knitters who happily rip out an entire sweater they don’t like, but I am not one of them. I’m more likely to just give the sweater away, or sell it at a sample sale than rip it out. But that’s just me.
But there are some tricks to help prevent that sad and sorry situation of knitting a sweater you never wear.
Get a full length mirror and head into your closet,
Find your favorite tops and sweaters - Pull out the things you wear most. Take a look in your hamper, because that’s where the clothes you wear most probably are.
Identify the key elements. Pull out each piece and look at it. What shape is it? What is the neckline? How long are the sleeves? What shape are the sleeves?
Find your flattering lengths - Put each piece on and see where it hits you. Does everything hit you at about the same length? What is that length? Where do short sweaters fall? Where do long sweaters fall?
Look at ease - Do your favorite garments fit closely and stretch across your bustline a little? A lot? Or do you like things generous and oversized? You may find that you like some of both. Which garments do you like to fit closely? Which garments do you prefer oversized?
Check color and pattern - What colors do you seem to have a lot in that hamper? Are they patterned or solid? If patterned, are they bold patterns or delicate? Do you have any stripes?
Find what doesn’t work - Now take a look at those garments you almost never wear. Put them on and see what it is about them that makes you avoid them. Is it the neckline? Is it the length? Is it the color or pattern? After looking at what you love, it should be pretty easy to identify what makes you not love a garment.
Write it all down. As you look at each garment, write down those key elements - maybe draw a little picture if that’s more your style. You will begin to see a pattern. Necklines, sleeves and sleeve lengths, style of construction, color, and more.
This is kind of a fun project for a rainy day. It could even take a whole weekend. If you have a good friend handy, you could do it with each other.
Once you know what you like, you’ll be able to identify pretty quickly whether a pattern you’re considering will work for you. You will also know how you might want to adjust a pattern to make it perfect for you, I don’t mean rewriting the pattern, but if it’s just a length preference, or a sleeve shape, or a neckline, you can change that pretty easily.
Only you can determine your personal style. No matter what other people say about how something looks on you, it is ultimately you who will decide not just how something looks, but how it makes you feel. Knit only those things that make you feel beautiful and confident, and the best very best version of yourself.
For help and guidance with sweaters that are fun to knit and fabulous to wear, check out Club Crazy for Ewe.
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