I actually wore this outfit twice this week, I love it so much. It features a striped top which I made from scratch, and a green merino jumper which was a charity shop find which I altered.
This top is the result of really concerted effort in trying to find the right fabric. I had a black and white striped top which I wore a lot but was getting pretty manky, so I planned to make a replacement. But for how popular these Breton stripe styles are right now, it’s amazingly hard to find much range of fabric, especially if you’re particular about fibre composition. I finally stumbled upon this lovely stuff at Dragonfly Fabrics. It’s wonderfully substantial (so no worry about show-through in the white parts), and Oeko-Tex certified, which I think has something to do with being tested for what chemicals are used in manufacturing. It was on the pricey side, but totally worth it. I used that perfect tee pattern I made and sewed this top up in a day.
There’s a secret mistake in this top, which is that I matched the stripes wrong along the seam in the sleeve. I wanted to match them up, because that is the proper thing that one should do. See? The result is that the stripes should form a series of loops around your arm, if you want to think of it that way. But I got it skewed so that in fact it is one continuous stripe looping in a spiral all the way down. Does that make sense? You’d only know if you decided to trace its path round and round (which I did). The source is a problem in the sleeve design, obviously my own fault. I’ve decided I don’t care!
The green sweater, like many of my charity shop purchases, caught my eye because of its fibre – merino wool. It’s supposedly several sizes bigger than my size, but I can only imagine it would be very tight in that case. Weirdly, though, for all its outsize skinniness, it was originally very long – awkwardly long, not tunic length but really long for a sweater. It also had a hole in the stomach area. When I spotted it, I asked the shop staff if I could have a discount (which they agreed), and then took it home, cut the bottom ribbing off, and sewed it back on higher up, allowing me to cut off the section with the hole and shorten the sweater in one fell swoop. The only flaw is that you can see the seam between sweater and ribbing, whereas of course normally they would be seamlessly attached, but that never has bothered me.
I have two points of observation inspired by this outfit. They are on one theme: trends.
Now, I don’t think I’m particularly trendy, and indeed I feel like as soon as I put on trendy clothes they no longer look trendy because it’s me wearing them. Nor have I ever found much stimulation in asking, How can I incorporate this season’s trends into my style? But I do take note of trends in light of this statement: Trends indicate what you can get away with without looking weird. Sneaky.
And, of the things that you can get away with, look for not only what you like, but for brilliant and practical ideas. After a couple of years of skepticism, I now think the ankle boot is one such practical trend. In fact I’m not sure it’s the most flattering shape, objectively, but since they’ve become ubiquitous I’ve jumped on the ankle boot bandwagon because they have the potential to be comfortable, smart, good for that cool-but-not-icy weather, they keep your feet dry, go with trousers or skirts (potentially without tights…not sure about that yet), and you can wear socks with them while no one has to see the socks! Christmas socks in September? Socks that don’t match? Ankle boots also give you a bit of grace if you have a problem with jeans being a little too short.
The Breton stripe top, in all its various manifestations, is another instance of a current trend that I think is really pretty clever. A stripe in neutral colours – a darker colour on white or cream if we’re interpreting it strictly – works like a neutral but is more interesting than a solid. If you have a small wardrobe, and/or layer your clothes often, it’s easy to end up with nothing but solids, since prints tend not to play very nicely together and can be limiting when you always have to match them with something else. But the resulting endless solids, especially in neutral colours, can become boring. At least, they do to me. A neutral stripe feels like a happy medium, and you can have a shot at being trendy too!