A Guy’s View: Chunky Knits

– By Thomas Dai –


The idea of chunky knitwear is kind of antagonistic to womankind by virtue of its naming. It seems to me that women are just not too keen on fashions that seem to imply in their very definition obtuse proportions and an unflattering heaviness (The same goes for things like boxy blazers, tent-like dresses and drop-crotch pants). Women gravitate instead towards styles that evoke more flattering adjectives like sleek, svelte, body-conscious and light. Compared to my guy friends, the women I know are almost hyper aware of how clothes look on their bodies. They are well versed in the fabrics that make their rumps look like a million bucks and the pant lengths that turn their legs into truncated tree stumps. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve waltzed into some boutique with a female friend, picked up a very on trend and very cute pair of cropped pants and received in return a blank stare of mingled consternation and serious doubt that reads “and-you-pretend-you-know-anything-about-women’s-fashion?”

Bruised ego or not, I’m learning, slowly but surely, from my supremely picky crop of stylish friends that fashion trends are great and all, but at the end of the day, there’s a body that has to squeeze, wiggle and otherwise negotiate its way into that latex Marc Jacobs skirt you’re waving in my face like a flag.

Left to right: Isabel Marant F/W11, Rodarte F/W11, Theyskens' Theory F/W11

Recently, I have been seeing a steadily increasing wave of aggressively fuzzy sweaters flooding street style blogs and fashion week catwalks. Spotted at the fall 2011 Rodarte, Theyskens Theory shows and continuing on strong for Spring 2012, the souped up pullover has become the off-duty-model topper of choice.

Left to right: Tommy Hilfiger S/S12, Chloe S/S12, Rodarte S/S12

Yet for all the mortal girls I know, chunky knits, however current they may be, pose several logistical problems– namely, how does one rock over-sized knits without losing all bodily shape? And how can you keep your slouchy sweater look from becoming just a bad redux of early 90’s grunge? The trick I believe to mastering the chunky knits chunkiness is to pay attention to proportions and to keep the look relatively low maintenance. Here are three courses of action I fully endorse:

1)  Take the short cut: People seem to associate big sweaters with covering up. While this may be the case in the frigid heart of a New England winter, transitional weather calls for a little leg with your chunky knits. In spring, micro shorts, bare legs and sporty kicks will look great paired with a chunkier-than-thou sweater. Bonus points if the shorts come in delightful shades of tangerine or pale pink. Right now though, try pairing a cropped cable knit sweater with leather shorts, opaque tights and towering booties for an edgy mix of textures and proportions.

1.  3.1 Phillip Lim 3D Cable Knit Pullover, $705
2. Alexander Wang Leather Short, $660
3. Fendi Fur Vamp Ankle Boot, $779
4. Wolford Matte Opaque Tights, $52
5. Jil Sander Elio Shorts, $500
6. MiuMiu Sneaker, $630

2)  Easy does it: With a piece as inherently casual as the chunky sweater, don’t fight the urge to dress down a bit. An uber warm sweater in classic grey finds a perfect match in skinny fit jeans. Right now, go for versatile grey washes but don’t be afraid to pull out your white jeans when spring rolls around. Finish the look off with menswear inspired oxfords or a killer pair of over the knee boots to keep the look long and lean.

1. Steven Alan Roll Neck Sweater, $265
2. Victoria Beckham Denim Twist Skinny Jeans, $395
3. Current/Elliot The Ankle Jean, $200
4. Stuart Weitzman 5050 Boot, $595
5. Co-Op Barneys New York Stamped Python Oxford, $395  
3)  Pleating Pro: Channel your old high school uniform by rocking your sweater over a flippy, pleated skirt, but keep your womanly poise intact by avoiding Lolita-esque plaid and going instead for a richly colorful chiffon number. No school-girl inspired look is complete without a waist defining belt and fun pair of heels of course.
1. Society For Rational Dress Cream Nubby Sweater, $230
2. Rachel Zoe Tipi Boot Cut Pants, $295
3. Kaelen Luanne Pleated Skirt, $475
4. J. Crew Skinny Calf Hair Belt, $60
5. Casadei Silk Pump, $643
6. ASOS Tino Boot, $152.19

So in the end, here’s what a well-meaning lad has learned: chunky knits can (but don’t have to) make you lookchunky. If you allow yourself to be creative, there are several easy and fun ways for any woman to pull of this somewhat difficult look with polish.  

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