Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dont be a knit-wit about wool knits

This post is about wool knits - knowing what to look for when selecting wool knits - let's call them insider's secrets.....

By way of background, I have recently gained weight, about a stone. Oops.
I have no intention of doing much to lose it,
Consequently, the need has arisen for some new clothes.....oh gee, its a tough life.....

As I tend to wear basics & use accessories to add interest, I really only need to update pieces which I already have - albeit with a larger number on the tag....oops.

One of my basic go-to type of tops is a plain fine Merino wool sleeveless top. It can be worn year round - with layers in winter & on its own in summer - fine wool is super light weight and has a tremendous absorbency.

BTW, Merino sheep made yellow by Selfridges UK for 2010 Wool Week.

and non yellow sheep....cute, eh?

Side tracked - back to the sweaters.....

I also buy the short sleeve versions and the long sleeve versions. Each of these has variations like round neck, scoop neck, vee neck, turtle neck. These typically have cardigans to match, but cardigans are not my thing.

These items can come in many colours - my favourites are black, navy & blue-y (burgendy) reds.

All these style are available in alot of places. However the most comprehensive selection of flattering pieces is at David Jones and is in the David Jones home brand.

Some of you trendoids may not have noticed these at David Jones as they tend to be buried in the back near the "granny" clothes....since they are basics and not very "exciting", Mr Jones wont put them at the front in neon lights. But those in the know, know where to go to find them.....

Lets go through some of the amazing features of the DJs knits:

Basque at the hem

The first thing I like about these David Jones knits is the hem - most of them dont have a basque (the ribbing that causes a blouson effect). By having the straight down hem, they are more slimming since they dont hug the hip. Hip hugging with the blouson effect only serves to make you look more pudgy. I dont know anyone who wants to look more pudgy.

Hem close up

As a comparison, I find Myer tend to sell knits with basques - check out their brand, Basque. Even fashion brands like Sportscraft have released a zillion gorgeous colours in wook knits this winter but they are all with basques. No, no. no.


The second thing I love about these David Jones knits is that their sleeves are "set in" and not "raglan" style. You can see this in the above photo too.

A set in sleeve looks like a normal shirt sleeve seam (close to vertical) at the seam where the sleeve joins the body of the garment........

A raglan sleeve runs at 45 degrees where the sleeve joins the body of the garment......

If you have broad shoulders - go raglan.
If you have sloping or less defined shoulders, go set in.

A set in will also help create the illusion of a bigger upper body.

Both set in sleeves and the absence of a basque will help to make you look slimmer by reducing horizontal eye movement. Dont we all want that? I know I do!


David Jones does cotton versions of these knits in summer & the wool versions in winter.
The wools are
fine - they are not scratchy.
Love it!


DJs does a gazillion colours each season, both fashion colours & classic colours. For example, they do a red each season, but the exact shade of red may differ between seasons - best to grab the right shade when you see it - as it may not appear for a few seasons down the track.

This season's red
is tending toward a blue based red, though not a burgendy. In contrast, last winter it was an orangey red. I wouldnt buy even this season's red - I would wait for a season when the red was even more burgendy than it is now.

Subject to monitor differences, this wool chart shows you the differences in the reds.

What is labelled as strawberry is a warmer red (yellow/orangey) red than what is labelled maple leaf (which is a blue-er red).

Style features

As I mentioned previously, there are many different styles in necklines and sleeves- some of the differences are subtle - but understanding them them will help you select what is most flattering for your shape.

Dont like your arms? Go long or short sleeve version - not the sleeveless.
Long neck? Go turtleneck or crew (if turtle suffocates you)
Short neck? Go scoop neck or vee neck (vee has vertical lines & is slimming) rather than crew neck.
Big boobs? Go scoop or vee, not crew & certainly not turtle. Make sure the sleeve doesnt end at the largest part of your boobs.
Small boobs? Go crew or turtle, not low cut.

Current season - turtle (89), crew short (69), Cardi (89)

Below, sweater on left is current season (89)

Sweater on right is previous season (now reduced to 60)

Notice the previous season was done with a wider neckline - a more visible decolletage.

If you were to try on both of these, I guarantee that one would suit you more than the other. The trick is knowing which one & staying away from the other - no matter how much the other my be the look of the season. Always hang in there, until you find what works for you.

In my case, I wont ever buy crew necks - I have a long neck & I just look better with a lower neckline (but small boobs, mean it cant be too low)....crews just dont work for me. So if I was desperate for a say a purple top and DJs only had the crew version purple this season, I'd skip it & buy a much cheaper purple tee from Target to get me through the season - until I found the better quality purple lower neckline (next year for example)....

There is also a vee neck (89) - current season.....

Vee necks remind me of high school - unless I am going for a preppy look - I stay away from them.

All these options.....confused? Dont be....its quite simple......

1. Know what works for you
2. Hanging in there, until you find it.

Because the more you look for something, the more you will find it.

Other brands - Slade

Slade is a knit wear brand kept by DJs which tends to be more traditional in its styling than the DJs home brand.

Slade tends to do the thick basques at the neck, cuffs & hems. I have used their photos as a comparison to the DJs home brand.

Slade also tends not to shape their knits through the waist - that is, they have fuller waists.

They also do heavier patterns - which tend to make you look heavier.
Personally, I like my knits plain or with a fine cable knit.

I guess if you really want a chunky cuddly fisherman's sweater look, then that isnt the best on a person who wants to look slimmer. I am not telling you not to buy it - just reminding you it may not be the most flattering if you want to look slim.

Slade is aimed at an older market (with thicker waists than us young ones with trim waists....hahaha)

Other brands - Milana

David Jones also has a home brand which is upmarket and Made in Italy, called Milana. The more high profile product they do is shoes and then scarves. Normally I cant fault the quality of Milana.

But when I was researching Milana knits for this post, I was disappointed. Their wool/cashmere content is minimal and their prices are exorbitant.
I would pass on those this year.

This cable knit sweater for example is 10% cashmere/40% wool/30% viscose/20%nylon.
From memory it was $289.

Sure it has a pretty pearly detail at the cuffs, but the value in this, well, it just isnt there.....

However, Milana shoes are still fabulous and for what you get, not overpriced.

Care & maintenance

Wool & cashmere will last a lifetime as long as you do three things:

1. Keep the critters away with lavender, repellant sachets, regular airing etc.

2. Wash gently in lukewarm water with wool detergent & lay flat to dry out of the sun.

3. Never store unless they have been freshly washed. The critters feed on the protein from dead skin cells, so even if the sweater isnt dirty, but has been worn & not washed, storing it will be dangerous. Even if you use those vacuum packed bags, the dirt will weaken the fibres over time and make them subject to breakage.

Contrary to any care tag, DO NOT DRY CLEAN wool/cashmere. The chemicals in dry cleaning are bad for the fibres.


Myer also does a range of Merino wool tops. However it doesnt have anywhere near the variety of colours and necklines as DJs. They also tend to use basques at the hem and at the sleeves.

They also tend to have alot of 3/4 sleeve tops in their wool versions. I find that a bit weird - in winter I tend to prefer a full sleeve - I think they do that though to keep the cost down a touch (less fibre used). The Myer prices tend to be about $10 cheaper for any particular comparable style to DJs.

Any relaxed slouchy styles?

Everywhere you look these days on the high street are slouchy relaxed styles.

However, David Jones hasnt quite gotten there yet with their plain knits.

In the Burwood store, I did notice some stripey Milanas with a slouchy feel.
Here is the loose flowy cardi in a grey/khaki stripe...same composition as above for $199. Not acceptable IMO.

Basque has introduced one slouchy style but I havent seen it in person.

If you want young, relaxed, slouchy, you can still apply what I have written about, but the knit will come from the likes of Witchery, Saba, Sportsgirl, Forever New, Portmans, Sportscraft, Country Road, Sussan etc.

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