Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Of big butts and waist shaping.

With another Vogue Knitting review looming, I decided to take a day and explain a BIT of my design, um, philosophy? That's a fancy word for it. What I'm thinking when I do these reviews. Because I do tend to harp on some subjects more than I would, otherwise. I've said it before, but it probably bears repeating. I don't analyze these according to what I LIKE. I discuss them with an idealized 'average woman' (both in size and age and coloring) in mind. What, of the choices, would suit? Why? How hard would it be to knit? That sort of thing. What I like rarely coincides with that, and that's okay.

Generally, I separate knitted clothing into two broad categories: casual and dressy. Casual knits? The foundation and history of knitting. Looks are secondary to function. Keep warm, be comfortable, and get stuff done, those are the priorities there. Dressy? While I still think function should be a factor, looking good becomes much more of a priority.

That said, I consider everything in Vogue Knitting 'dressy knits', or they SHOULD be. If you're spending $250 on silk yarn to knit a cardigan, then yes, looking good damn well ought to be on the menu. I don't expect it to make anyone look fifty pounds lighter or six inches taller, but it should certainly be as flattering as possible. For that, fit is almost always a huge factor. (I can't think of a case when fit is NOT a factor, but I'm sure there's a pattern out there to prove me wrong if I say always.)

Is it possible to knit something without perfect fit? Of course. Will it be comfortable? Very likely. Will you like it? I hope so. Most flattering thing possible? Debatable.

Two things I bitch about a lot are waist shaping and big-butt length. Again, you don't HAVE to care about either one, but if I was spending big bucks and big time on something, I would. A lot.

Waist shaping reduces bulk around your middle. In this culture, slim waists are considered the ideal, even more than slim hips or chests. So removing some bulk around the waist is a good idea. It's pretty simple to do, as easy as decreasing and then increasing a couple times in the right places. That's one reason I bitch. IT IS REALLY EASY TO DO. It's so easy, you can even put it in after the fact. That's why I can't understand why more designers don't do it in the first place. No, it's not ALWAYS warranted. But most pullover-type knits could benefit from it.

Bulk is what big butt length is about, too. How many of us complain about the size of our butts? All of us? 90%? Why, then, do we so often swathe that very part with three or four layers of clothing? Grab a sweater some time, and bunch it up so that you hold the full width of it in your hand. Now imagine sticking it to your butt. Because that's exactly what's going on.

See that? Probably three layers there. Underwear of some kind (for most of us), pants or skirt, then sweater. Why? Sometimes it's an intended style, but I think more often it's just a detail that hasn't been thought out too well. Luckily for us, we CAN think. We're knitting this stuff ourselves. We can shorten, lengthen, add shaping, move it around, or whatever's needed to make it fit us individually.You could knock a significant amount of length off that tunic up there, save yourself days of knitting time, and most likely look thinner into the bargain. Sign me up for that.

The reason I mention this stuff so much isn't really about VK or the designers. It's about the knitters. I'm trying to get folks thinking, about the ways to alter their knits, to best suit them. Food for thought.


Faye said...

At 5"4, I have a slim, short torso and a really curvy behind. Wearing my sweaters longer helps emphasize and lengthen my slim bits, while taking attention away from my rear. I can also lengthen them and make them oversized, so they drape over my bust to my thighs and camouflage everything in between. That vest, with a light long sleeved top and some opaque tights underneath, would look great on me.

I think it's important to take everything everyone says about fit with a grain of salt, because everyone of us ladies is so different! However, I really love reading your instructional posts about fit, and they always help me to understand just WHY I like the clothes I do.

Donna Lee said...

That's one of the things I like about Wendy Barnard's book Custom Knits. She talks about how to make a pattern fit YOUR body. Where to add shaping, how to shorten/lengthen. It may be easy for some folks to see how to do these things but some of us are not intuitive that way and need to be shown.

Roxie said...

Even when I don't agree with you, I love to hear what you have to say! Put me in the column that favors below the butt tunics. Or even better, long, open cardigans that curtain the rear and reveal the waist and bust. But I'm 6 feet tall, so I can carry it.

Emily said...

Well, my butt doesn't need emphasizing...and I'm quite short. (I used to be 5'2", but I'm shrinking now.)

A longer length on me provides a longer line, butt or no butt. Or that's what I imagine, anyway.

The currently stylish empire waist annoys me: talk about butt emphasis! Plus I wore that stuff when I was pregnant, thank you.

That said, I LOVE your analyses of the styles, whether I agree or not. They're well thought out, very detailed, and entertaining as all get-out.

Linda said...

I love the way you think and critique. It has helped me immensely to *see* things more clearly and not get carried away by color or some little thing on a garment that like (or don't) and not see the whole garment. I may or may not agree with you, but you get me thinking and that seems to be what you are trying to accomplish. It works for me. Thank you.

Amy Lane said...

*sigh* The problem is, even though my ass is gi-ass-normous, I LIKE Big Butt Length. I feel as though my gi-ass-normous butt is COVERED, and PROTECTED by the extra fabric.

I didn't say it was rational.

Just a reason I cover my butt!