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A fashion and style blog for the over 40s covering body shapes, colour palettes, how to wear neutrals, style personality and capsule wardrobes. Come on in!

6.02.2017

Dressing For Your Body Shape Series | Knitwear

Knitwear. The bane of my very existence. Reason? Because I seem to love everything that looks cr*p on me. And then I get frustrated and very grumpy because it looks cr*p on me..... No one needs to see a frustrated and grumpy Donna. I was going to post this the other day but it was so hot and sticky that I thought you'd think I was barking mad (I am). But I woke up to rain and much cooler temperatures today and it reminded me that, we live in the UK and it's NEVER safe to pack all your jumpers away. So let's crack on.

I was a good girl last season and only bought jumpers that suited my frame, staying away from what I really wanted. It hurt but honestly, I got so much more wear out of them and was able to create lots of outfits. This is one of the reasons why I've stepped away from high fashion, it's too tempting to buy stuff that doesn't suit your body shape, too easy to get carried away. Of course it also means that everything I packed away will be coming out again in the autumn because the pieces I invested in, have longevity.

Let me show you what I mean. A loose, thin jumper with a straight cut is much more flattering on me than a boxier shape that makes me look very square. These two jumpers are perfect for my rectangle shaped figure. Ok, they're not cutting edge fashion, we're not talking the 1970 Bella Freud sweater here but they can be worked into some really great outfits. I loved both of these looks!


Over the last three years, I've forged a few special working relationships with brands that I cherish, all are small independents and I'm so lucky to be able to borrow items that I can use on the blog. This has been particularly useful for this series of posts as visuals are so much better than words aren't they?

Anyway, I called upon my friend Janet from Mimi & Thomas who has just launched another business, True Cashmere. She was more than happy to send me some of her first season's pieces for me to use for this post. I'll be showing you some of the items that I borrowed along with other pieces that I've found on the High Street.

Neat Hourglass


If you remember way back to the first post in this series, the general idea is that clothes should follow your body line and define your waist. This is your VERY BEST look but not your only one. It's the difference between 'oh you look nice' and 'wow you look incredible'. So, if you want to look incredible, a jumper with shape will look much better than an oversized sloppy cardigan. Oh and be careful with chunky knits particularly if you're petite because they could overwhelm your frame.

This first jumper is from Warehouse and ticks all the right boxes. It's also available in a powder blue and yellow, gorgeous colours for summer.  You could do lots with this. Wear it with a midi skirt and trainers, pop it under a blazer for the office, add it to a pair of black cropped pants and heels for an evening look. And I didn't even mention jeans there!

Warehouse Crewneck Pure Wool Jumper £45 
(more sizes here too)



I love love love this jumper from Baukjen but you do need a bit of a waist to pull it off. It's perfect for you and a little bit special too. That little tie detail really does emphasise a small waist and the low cut v-neck is very flattering (you can pop a lace camisole underneath if you're bashful).

Baukjen Alana Wrap Top £109


Neat Hourglass
Look for:
Knits with some shape 
Neat fits
Fine to medium weights

Avoid:
Chunky knits
Anything too over sized 

Full Hourglass


You don't want to build any area of your figure up so avoid bulky jumpers and cardigans. On the other hand, you don't really want a 'muscle-fit' sweater either! Look for soft fluid knits with an open neckline. Polo necks aren't your friends I'm afraid. A lovely waterfall cardigan complements your soft curves as opposed to a straight up and down one.

This jumper is perfect for your shape and ticks every box. Low neck, nips in at the waist, follows your curves and Brucie Bonus, it comes in a variety of colours so you can pick your perfect shade. I know what you're thinking, it's not the most fashionable piece but think about it. I promise you that it will be a flattering fit (and colour). Add a pair of kick flare trousers and a blazer or stepped hem jeans and suddenly you have a very modern piece. I'll leave you to mull it over.

Kettlewell Milan Knit Crossover Jumper currently £60



Cardigan wise, it's really difficult to find one that nips in at the waist but still looks fashionable. So concentrate on all other aspects that I mention above. I was blown away by this True Cashmere piece. It's so flattering as a summer outer layer or winter piece. In fact I really didn't want to take it off and may have to order it back!!! Cashmere being a natural fibre means that it's toasty warm in winter but you can also wear it when necessary in summer without roasting.

Another thing to consider is that you may find jackets somewhat restrictive and feel more comfortable in something softer. A little cashmere cardigan can work just as well and I'm thinking particularly for work wear. Who says you have to wear a blazer? Pop this over a smart dress or trousers and it does the job just as well.

True Cashmere Felicity Waterfall Cardigan £158




And in grey. Love the soft draped front.


Full Hourglass
Look for:
Soft fluid shapes
Open necklines
Light to medium weights

Avoid: 
Bulky knits 
High necklines

Triangle


Yes you know the drill, build up the shoulder area to balance out the hips. Avoid raglan sleeves as the lack of shoulder seam doesn't work on your frame. A batwing or dropped shoulder works much better in creating the illusion of broader shoulders. I'd also suggest an asymmetric or uneven hem as it messes with the head. What I mean is that it distracts the eye from less good bits. 

So here the wide neckline gives the appearance of wider shoulders while the hem distracts from the heavier hips and bottom. Normally I'd suggest that a triangle avoids slouchy tops and always shows the waist. This is an exception to the rule!





You can also use patten and layering to build up the shoulder line. *Tip* if you're wearing a shorter length jumper, make sure it doesn't finish at your widest point of your hip or thigh. Above or below is much more flattering.

Me&Em True Chic Stripe Jumper £119


Triangle
Look for:
Dropped shoulder cuts
Asymmetric hemlines
Detailing on the top third or shoulders of the knit (block colour, embroidery, buttons)
Puff sleeves 
Layering pieces so pop a t-shirt of blouse underneath a knit
Medium weights

Avoid:
Tight fits
Raglan sleeves
Anything where the hem line finishes at your widest point

Inverted Triangle


Tops are the most important parts of your outfit to get right because this is your 'problem' area ie. shoulders are noticeably wider than hips. But that's easily sorted if you wear straight cut knits. Bulk is not your friend unless you want to look like an egg on legs which is what hubby fondly calls me 😑  

I'm a Rectangle but bordering on an Inverted Triangle as I have fairly broad shoulders so sometimes I adopt your rules. One piece that springs to mind is the cashmere wrap that's still available from Mimi & Thomas worn as I have here. 




The stripes draw the eye down and outwards taking them away from the shoulder line. Bingo! 

A raglan sleeve works well as the seam draws the eye inwards to your neckline. And avoid wide v'necks, slash necks and any details such as ruffles on the shoulder line. Gosh it's clever stuff this isn't it? 

This one has a lot going for it, raglan sleeves for a start. And, the seam down the front draws the eye down to the knot detail which sits very nicely on your neat hips. A word of caution though, if it's too baggy around the waist, it might not work so well. It's something It's worth trying though.

If you're popping over to the Mango website for a look, check out the gorgeous green colour way too.




Inverted Triangle
Look for:
Straight cuts
Raglan sleeves
Light weights

Avoid: 
Bulky knits
Dropped sleeves
Stripes on the top third of your body

Lean Column


Layering, chunky and texture are your friends. Pairing a thin, flat knit with close fitting jeans may take you down runner bean territory. Hmmmmm. Not a look I aspire too. 

Current trends of bell sleeves are great for giving the impression of roundness and a more womanly shape. 

Ok so I wouldn't exactly call this 'ultimate chunky,' that's ASOS description, but it has texture so tick for that. The combination of the relaxed fit and the curved detailing at the front will give the illusion of curves. Ideal for layering too. This really is a great jumper for you. 



This model is a lean column (aren't they all?) but wearing a loose sweater and flowing culottes, she's created a more womanly figure. Stripes can broaden a figure and the curved hem gives the impression of a curved shape. 



Lean Column
Look for:
Chunky knits
Texture
Curved hemline
Balloon sleeves
Medium to heavy weights

Avoid:
Tight fitting knits

Rectangle


A sloppy jumper will make you look just that....sloppy. It won't sit well on your straight body shape. Rectangles can also carry weight on their tummy so anything tight fittings may not be flattering (bye bye Bella Freud jumper). As a rectangle, I tend to favour a slightly longer length ie finishing below the hips. A shorter cut is too boxy for me. And I try to find jumpers that are cut (I mean knitted obviously) straight up and down without a tight waist band which always seem to rise up on my fat belly.

This is a perfect jumper for you and check out that price (reduced from £70).

Because you may have a bust, a v-neck is very flattering. 




The Felicity cardigan that I mentioned above works surprisingly well, particularly when it's fastened at the top. It transforms into a mock asymmetric jumper. Clever hey? A really useful piece to have in your wardrobe. 



Rectangle
Look for:
Straight cuts
Open neckline if you have a bust
Simple pieces devoid of detail on the bust and torso area
Fine to medium weight


Avoid:
Chunky or sloppy knits
High necks

Round


You carry your weight on your upper body but wow what great legs. Don't bulk yourself up in a thick sweater as it will add pounds to your frame. Better to do a couple of lighter layers. 

Look for thin knits (cashmere is ideal as it's warm without being bulky) in drapey cuts. Waterfall cardigans (the Felicity above) are so good for you. And keep everything simple and uncluttered.

This little cover up is a great option instead of a tight fitting jumper. You can add a longer layer underneath and it will look particularly good if you wear the same colour top and bottoms eg black, thus creating a column of colour and then pop this poncho on top as a contrast.




And another option, again a longer layering piece underneath would work a treat. 






This would be a good wardrobe staple. It's loose at the bottom, a good length (providing you're not petite in height) and has a nice open neckline. 


Round
Look for:
Fine knits
Waterfall cardigans
Loose and flowing
Open necklines
Cuff details


Avoid:
Tight fitting 
Close fitting waist bands
Detailing or embellishment (unless on the cuffs)


One of the things that strikes me about the internet and body shape is that there are so many interpretations. So for example for me, a Rectangle is someone who is straight up and down, little or no waist definition, flat bum, may or may not have a bust and carries weight on the tummy. Whereas some describe a Rectangle as a Lean Column; very slim, boyish figure, small bust, long legs, long torso. Entirely different and an entirely different way of dressing. Confused??? All I can suggest is that you find one blog or website or writers' descriptions and stick to that (please let it be me xxxxx). We're all kind of saying the same thing but calling body shapes different names. And that's ok but for the reader, it can be a little baffling.  

I really enjoyed reviewing the True Cashmere pieces which is a brand new company (sister to Mimi & Thomas). The cashmere is beautiful, is machine washable and is anti-pilling. It's not a sponsored post and I didn't receive anything for mentioning these pieces but I was keen to have a proper look as I love my cashmere wrap from last year. 

I have a couple of discount codes for you. The True Cashmere pieces featured above along with all of the other pieces on the website have 30% off until 18th June 2017 (quote iwwsb30). And Mimi & Thomas, there's 25% off (quote iwwsb25). 

That's all for now, back tomorrow with underwear!!!

You might be interested in the other posts in this series which you can find in this blog post about discovering and dressing for your body shape



9 comments on "Dressing For Your Body Shape Series | Knitwear"
  1. Really informative and interesting, thank you! I just struggle to nail my body shape... I was a neat hourglass at my slimmest (when I was in fact underweight at a size 8) but now that I am heavier and a 12 to 14 up top, I feel more like a round shape but with slightly broader shoulders, ample bust and the rectangle tendency to hold weight on my tummy. I feel swamped in tops that don't show my shape but uncomfortable in anything that sits too neatly and shows my tummy... This post provides some great pointers, I guess it is a case of dipping into different shapes but definitely avoiding chunky, clingy or boxy?!

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    1. Rozanne you seem to be describing a rectangle as opposed to a round. Have you read the rest of the posts in this series (see the link at the end of the post) which you might find helpful x

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    3. Interesting! Yes, I have read the other posts, they're really great. But I will have another look at them. Thanks Donna! x

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  2. Another great post ... and some gorgeous examples to illustrate everything you've said. I think I may have finally worked out which shape I am!!!

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  3. Another great post ... and some gorgeous examples to illustrate everything you've said. I think I may have finally worked out which shape I am!!!

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  4. Donna, another excellent post. As a neat hourglass, you are saving me so much time and money! I am now only trying to look at more fitted shapes instead of buying stuff which won't suit me - and saving money in the process. Thank you.

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    1. Music to my ears. Keep reading, we still have swimwear, dresses and tops to cover yet x

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