Closet, unedited

I have gotten several comments lately, wondering about how I style my knits. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first I wanted to show you all what I’m working on now.

This is Buttercup, free by Pipibird on Ravelry. I’m using Elann Nilo, a cotton/linen blend which I am seriously loving.  The pattern is easy but not too boring (although I do have a lot of stockinette coming up!)

Anyway, onto the idea of styling knits.  Truthfully, I just really love clothes.  I have since highschool, although my concept of stylish didn’t necessarily line up with the grunge styles of the day.  When I pick knitting patterns I always judge them carefully for wearability.  Something may be the most interesting pattern in the world, but if I’m going to feel self-conscious in it, I’m not going to knit it.  Hand-knitted socks, especially in handpainted yarn, sometimes toe this line for me.  I don’t choose patterns or yarn colors based on clothes that I already own, nor do I knit to match items in my closet.  It is true that I prefer jewel tones, so anything knit in those colors is likely to match something in my closet.  Speaking of closets…

Yes, you get to see my unedited, un-neat closet.  One of the large selling points for our house was that for such an old house (110 years or so) it has a big master closet – a walk-in, if not a huge one.  I’ve added a double rod on one end, and I have plenty of room to hang everything now, as well as keep some of my hand-knits on a shelf and on the shelves above.  It isn’t ideal, and someday I want to replace the innards of the closet with something more organized, but I’m thrilled with it for now.

I’m also completely addicted to thrift shopping.  90% of what you see in that closet probably came from a thrift or vintage store (mostly thrift, because I’m cheap like that.)  I usually hit my favorites every 2 weeks, and everytime I do laundry I discard items that aren’t holding up, or which aren’t as great as a I thought they were (sometimes it’s easy to get carried away when something is a good deal.)  In this way I’m able to have a constantly rotating wardrobe without having a huge clothes budget – mine is practically nil, except for the occasional pair of pants or shoes.  Yarn, I tell myself, doesn’t count, and goes in the entertainment budget.

When I thrift shop, I do look for items that will go well with handknits, so I have a lot of interesting short sleeved patterned shirts, or long sleeved knits or blouses that I imagine looking nice under a vest.  I don’t buy sweaters, even to recycle the yarn (I tried it once and found it tedious.)  I try to imagine whether an item will work with my lifestyle, although as my job is now changing I can buy more casual things again, and not worry so much about looking really conservative.  I have an idea of the face I want to present the world, and I don’t buy things that don’t go along with that.  I go to the mall sometimes and try things on, so that I will know my size in items likely to turn up in a thrift.  I don’t want to have to try anything on there.    I don’t buy pants at a thrift, generally.  It’s too hard to find something that fits, and bad fitting pants are tragic.  I need most of my pants hemmed anyway, and it’s not worth it on something used.

When I style knits for photos, I try first to imagine the image I want the sweater to project – is it fun?  Trendy? Classic? Bohemian?  Then I pick items from my closet that go with the sweater, trying to find a coordinating color in the pattern, or going with a neutral solid.  I like retro looks, but I don’t want to look like a museum piece.  So (for instance) I matched the Clementine shawlette with a dress from Ann Taylor (which I wore for my Wedding rehearsal dinner) because what I liked about the shawl was its’ retro silhouette.  With Honey I wanted to emphasize the great shape of the pattern, so I chose a trumpet skirt to echo the hourglass shape of the top.  With the minimalist cardigan I wanted a more modern look, and I wanted to dress up the simple shape, so I chose a contrasting teal color, and took the photos in low light to bring out the colors.

I actually wear all of these this way in real life (or I did, before I sadly killed that skirt by washing accidentally.)  I don’t know if this was helpful, but I get questions all the time about my clothes here, and I always feel bad when I have to say that what I’m wearing was probably in stores 10 years ago.  It seems like a lot of work to read it, but I really enjoy it – in fact, putting outfits together for photos is one of my favorite things about this blog!

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22 thoughts on “Closet, unedited

  1. Thanks so much for sharing the details on the styling of your knits. Your outfits always look very put-together yet have a uniqueness that sets them apart (I suppose handknits help with that!). It was really interesting to hear how thrifting is such an integral part of how you put your wardrobe together — it’s inspired me to try thrifting again!

  2. That’s so interesting to hear the careful thought process that goes behind your lovely photo shoots. You make it look effortless…which is probably really hard in and of itself. I always enjoy reading about your FOs.

  3. Very cool, all the goings-on behind all the great photos. I’m curious whether someone takes the photos, or whether you have a timer set up.

  4. Your knitting is masterful. Just started following your blog. I don’t know if I have the patience for knitting “people” pieces – I do dog wear! I’m also into thrifting and so totally agree with how great it is. It is easy to discard a piece that you don’t really like after all when you only paid a few dollars for it – a little harder when you paid full store price! Love your work.

  5. Thanks for letting us see inside your closet! I really adore your style.

    I used to do a lot of thrift shopping when I was in undergrad. I still have a few things that I love that I bought 10 years ago! It is a big time commitment though, which is why I haven’t been in a long time.

  6. thursday says:

    That does sound like a lot of work (but, of course, if you have the talent and patience for it…why not??). I’m terrible with clothes. I hate shopping for clothes, and I rarely put on a skirt or dress (good thing – I don’t have a closet). I have tons of shoes (but they’re all birks, chacos, tevas…you get the idea). I enjoy your style! Just because I’m a t-shirt and jeans all the time sorta gal, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate someone with better taste. ;)

  7. I am with you on the thrift store…I get more compliments on outfits I put together that came from a thrift store than something I might have purchased at the mall. I prefer to spend my money on my shoes. :)

    Ok…I have the Elann Nilo in the plum…now to see if I have enough yardage for a top down.

  8. Setting up good shots really does take work….something I am working on – keeping a list of photos I want to take, how to set them up, etc.

    You should be a professional stylist for books. =) You are very talented and have a great eye for visuals!

  9. You continue to amaze me with your knitting speed!! I appreciate the wardrobe info. I am just getting into knitting clothes for myself and am even more impressed now by how many things you whip out. It seems to be taking me forever!

  10. Great outfits, I’m a thrifter as well, got a few (3) new to me dresses recently, oldest 1950′s & handmade, the newest DKNY & all for less than$50 total, lets me spend on yarn instead.

  11. Adorable. Your style, your knits and your photography really show your unique style and I love it. I often get caught up thinking I can’t knit something because it’s not me, but I constantly have to remind myself that it’s about HOW you wear it and with what :) I’ve just discovered thrift shops again after a long stint in Germany where there were virtually none and it’s been very eye-opening!

  12. Stitch Sista says:

    So here’s what I’m wondering – how do you decide what to wear each day and how long does it take to decide?

    It seems to me the more clothes I have the harder it is to decide each day, but at the same time, when I have less I think ‘oh I have nothing to wear’.

  13. Thank you for the behind-the-scenes look at your wardrobe! I love retro looks but am always worried about how to mix them with more modern pieces. You are very talented at that! If you have any tips to share, I’d really appreciate it! There are some great retro sweater patterns out there I’m tempted to try.

  14. I am an ardent follower of your blog and you amaze me with the rate at which you churn out FOs. Thanks for giving us a look into your closet! You have excellent taste in dressing up and putting together photo shoots! Thanks for this blog. I look forward to many more lovely posts from you.

  15. Thank you. This was very interesting. It took me a long time to realize that picking out a knitting pattern is just like shopping for clothing. It has to suit my figure and my lifestyle, as well as echo my personal style.

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