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!