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 boring.
So, let’s re-think what “knit” can mean, starting with the cardigan.
This year, 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 length.
You’ll find 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 eye upward.
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 boots.
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.
Some ponchos, 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.
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 them.
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.
Beanies, tams, 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.
Fingerless gloves 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 for warmth.
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.
What’s your 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!