Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Past Forward . . . Knitting and Fashion Shift Gears


The Ralph Lauren store at Southpark Mall in Charlotte displays some
new fall fashions. 
Toward the end of July, I set out to buy some school clothes, not for my children—for me.  Teacher clothes.  Nothing too outré.  Nothing too revealing.  Separates that I could mix and match.  When I arrived at the petite department of a large store at a local mall, I was taken aback a bit, as I was assaulted with a sea of colors and ruffles.  I felt as if I’d stumbled off a cruise ship into some tropical bazaar where vendors in market stalls hawked gaudy souvenirs.  The parrot-like colors and off-the-shoulder ruffled blouses were everywhere.  Granted, the store did have its summer inventory on display, but I was still surprised not to find some tailored slacks and tops.  At under five-foot three-inches tall, and with a curvy figure, the clothes I found were neither flattering nor professional.  Needless to say, I walked away empty-handed. 

As I left the mall, I wondered when the fashions would change and women would be able to find classic clothes that actually possess some shaping and definition.  While some stores and catalogues catering to mature women do carry clothes in muted colors, those companies have seemed unwilling to give up the whole peasant-/maternity-top look—for the last few years anyway.  I was happy, therefore, when I received the September issue of Vogue, and saw lots of fitted jackets, pencil skirts, and generally structured clothing.  The magazine also presented me with lots of inspiration for knitting.  A Ralph Lauren ad features Fair Isle vests paired with herringbone tweed, hounds tooth, or surprisingly conservative-looking leopard coats.  Michael Kors’ glossy images reveal creamy, bulky fisherman’s sweaters, and Belstaff England (a company with which I’m not familiar) displays pictures of men sporting chunky sweaters—one of them with cables.  A white sweater—with distinctive cables that widen into a triangle from the neck—are in an advertisement for Chloe Boutique.  And a model for Tommy Hilfiger sports an interesting rich brown cowl—more like a turtleneck due to its snug fit—with a belt and buckle around it.  Hilfiger’s ads also include a man wearing a cabled sweater with suede elbow patches, a woman sporting an unusual Fair Isle sweater (almost a jacket), and another wearing knitted boot toppers. 

Some of the designers do present less conservative looks.  Nina Ricci shows a colorful sweater made of yarn that looks an awful lot like Noro, although the middle of the garment is interrupted with see-thru black lace band.  Designer Vivienne Westwood poses in a body-hugging knit dress with cutout décolletage, an image accompanied by a web address for merino.com, while in an ad for shopbop.com a woman wears an unusual black knit dress with a skirt decorated with loop after loop of yarn.    


Despite a few unusual looks, though, the general feeling for the season seems to be a return to classics.  In fact, when I received a pattern book entitled Rowan Tweed in the mail on Saturday, I opened it and read the following:  “There is a renewed interest in a British aesthetic and classic heritage tweed yarns and fabrics are at the forefront of this resurgence.  On the winter 2012 catwalk, heritage fabrics  . . . are reworked into a contemporary take on traditional countrywear.”  The book also mentions an “important shift of fashion values.”   With this shift, I assume, knitwear will probably also move away from ruffles and novelty yarns.  When I visited my local yarn shop on Saturday, its owner informed me that she was a awaiting an order of a variety of Rowan yarns, a company whose designs for this winter reflect this return to tradition.  Once I finish my Brynn shrug, which I’ve been furiously knitting since Saturday, I think I’ll make a cabled cardigan from some yarn I have at home and then it’s back to the knitting store to purchase some yarn for a Fair Isle sweater.  I’ll enjoy this design trend while it lasts. 

This is not the green yarn I displayed in my last post when I discussed my recent yarn order. I have no clue how I ended up with red instead of green. I have faith, though, as my gauge seems okay, and I am happy to not be adding yet another green garment to my wardrobe. My error may actually have been serendipitous.


This is the back of my Brynn shrug.  The photo does not do justice to the wonderful claret colored yarn. The pattern calls for Rowan Tweed Aran, but I'm using Rowan Tweed--another mistake probably due to the fact that I was trying to order yarn during my 20-minute lunch break and searched by color name (the names such as Keld and Bainbridge are the same for both types of yarn).  I hope the slightly lighter weight doesn't affect the fit too much.    



3 comments:

  1. I think what goes around does come around in the fashion world so structured more tailoreed things ought to be due for a come-back. It's very annoying to go shopping for clothes to wear every day and only find things suitable for occasional use, if that. I hope the current increasing trend for traditional knitwear with a modern take persists and that you find the choice of stuff you would actually like to wear increases. Your new shrug looks delightful - hope you're going to post a pic of the finished article in full. E x

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  2. Oh my, that shrug is going to be gorgeous! Rowan Tweed is such a joy to knit with too, you'll really enjoy it I'm sure. Also, I really feel you with fashion right now, I'm glad that you were able to find things that you like, I haven't been as lucky this season, all of my favorite stores have been disappointing me.

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  3. The anticipation of cooler days that September brings is just the right inspiration for knitting something tweedy. Those tweedy yarns are gorgeous - I am desperate to knit a Rowan fairisle in that lovely tweed but have to control myself. Since going back to school 3 days ago I have not managed to do any knitting - I must make myself pick up the sticks at lunchtime - do you manage to do any knitting during your school day? Can't wait to see the shrug. Judy.

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