Thursday, 20 October 2011

FW11 trends | Knits

Jil Sander colorful chunky knits (Photo: Fashionologie)

With dropping temperatures, knits are the other thing that everyone is talking about together with coats. I find it interesting how, in the past few years, knits have evolved from a cold weather necessity to fashion item. If I recall correctly, it all started with knit coats and sweater dresses a few years ago. This year the trend continues with chunky sweaters in bright colors, as at Jil Sander, and with chunky dresses, as at Stella McCartney.

Stella McCartney's chunky sweater dress (Photo:

Let me share my bit of wisdom about knits, as I have bought many and many different types over the years. It also so happens that my mother's best friend, who is the mom of my two best friends, is in the knitting business. She used to hand-knit when we were little and one of our favorite games was to imitate her. She also taught me a lot about yarn, and caring for knits.

I will start with the fact that nowadays knits sell for impossibly high prices. A knit coat by Stella McCartney can be over 1000 USD and Jil Sander's chunky knits above are close to that mark. The problem is that knits do not age well, and their price is often inversely related to their durability. Take cashmere, always one of the most expensive knits. It does not matter how careful you are when you wash it, it WILL sooner or later be prone to pilling. In this respect, chunky knits (the ones so much in fashion now) are the worst. Knit dresses have the additional problem that they will lose their shape after a couple of washes.

I have spent way too much money on knits that I had to throw out after one season, so here is what I do now. First, I NEVER spend more than 300$ on a knit item. This is my upper end, and I rarely reach it. I prefer to invest in cheaper knits, so that I can replace them after one or two season and not feel too bad about it. Second, if I want to invest, I buy merino wool. This is the absolutely most durable type of yarn out there. You can dry-clean it or hand-wash it as many times as you like and it will never pill or lose its shape. Since I moved to Canada, every year I have bought 70 CAD merino V-necks from Club Monaco in a range of colors, and they are the items still in my closet, while the expensive cashmere I got as gift is long gone. Third, the next best thing after merino wool is mixed wool. For instance, wool and cashmere or cashmere and silk. Fourth, be extremely careful with designer items. A couple of years ago I got as a gift a beautiful Phillip Lim fine cashmere sweater with a silk bow, which was worth about 400 USD. At the end of the season, after just three washes, it had pilled so much it was unwearable. On the contrary, two merino cardigans by Milly I bought the same year for half the price are two staple items in my closet today. Actually, I just found in Milan one of my old Moschino cardigans. It is made of black merino wool and carries its age (fifteen years) with delight.

This year I plan to get a few colorful knits from one of my favorite supplier: a no-name brand that is sold at one of Milan's department stores. Each sweater costs 50 euros, cashmere goes up to 80 and last dignitably for a few years. Yet I have had my eyes on an Erdem sweater for a while, and the reason why I have not gotten it is because I follow my own advice and I am a bit afraid of the price tag, which is around my upper limit...

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