Getting and spending: Sweater-knit tanks, considered
Jane in London and I seem to notice certain trends around the same time.
She wrote, "I have, for some months now, been a bit fascinated by a fashion garment that seems to be everywhere. It is variously described as 'vest', 'pullover' and (by our German cousins) 'pullunder'.
Most of the women who frequent the Passage will be no stranger to the sleeveless pullover, of course. We all wore those clingy striped ones in the '70s, and then plain lambswool ones were just the thing in the early '80s to wear with our Lady Di shirts and pearls!
But the new breed is much looser in both fit and attitude, is longer and usually has a hi-lo hem...
I have not taken the plunge... my problem is that I really like the look of these pullovers, but my imagination starts to fail me once I've got past 'it would look great over a crisp white shirt'."
The vests are especially useful for transitional wear (or travel), and can live happily with trousers, skirts, even dresses—but they need to be handled with a little thought, because even the more fitted ones add some width. Let's window-shop!
The cut of these is straight and neat, often v-necked, and to the waist or just below. Exapmle below: An alpaca/cashmere tank (now s/o) by Eric Bompard, which I have shown before, worn with a fine rollneck beneath. Sale price, $CDN 216. Is that Kristin Scott Thomas?
|Photo: Eric Bompard|
Some women will conclude that the layers add unwanted bulk, and if so, what are other options? I'd wear it with a stretchy layering tee like those sold by Adea: soft, pretty and not as warm:
Brora always make a sleeveless option; this year's Fair Isle tank, which was on sale for £209, is shown two ways, with a simple white longsleeved tee, and a piecrust blouse. Guess which one I don't recommend!
The Lady Di piecrust is a girlish, sweet look; Jane said that kind of dressing on grown women has been called "fossilized Diana".
Classic vest with long shirt
A classic v-neck vest catches up to the times when paired with a long shirt. The beige and orange-striped cotton/alpaca piece is by Cos; price, $US 99. Note also the cropped trouser. If reaching for of-the-moment the whole thing has to hang together.
If that shirt length would swamp you, think about what it would look like if you (mentally) cut off about half of the bottom, and see whether that proportion is better. These overshirts are everywhere, and not all are this long.
The new-gen vests are boxier and as Jane said, looser in fit and attitude.
Jane mentioned that she was hoping to find one that's not jolly expensive; a good source is Cos. I found many possibilities there, made with a good percentage of natural fibres, and washable.
Left: Cos off-white cotton-wool textured rollneck vest; price $US 99. Though shown on its own, you could wear it with the Adea tee. (Check the side view and you'll see there's plenty of room.)
Right: Cos long tabard vest also in beige (or black) wool/cotton; price $US 115. The ensemble shows another styling tip: a tonal palette reduces the widening effect.
Try a short(ish) sleeve
Arket's pink knitted poly/alpaca/wool vest winks at spring; I wanted to show a knit vest worn over a short-sleeved tee, but not one of those skimpy cap sleeves. Price, $US 79.
What's your trend tolerance?
If you like somewhat fitted clothes and don't view a knit vest as a trend you'll donate in a year, the classic in a quality pure-fibre textile will give faithful service.
If you prefer decontractée cuts, take your contemporary model home (if you can return it), and try it with several bottoms, always wise when working with a new proportion.
I did not take my advice.
Duchesse's poor in-vestment
Late last fall, when we could still travel, I bought a contemporary vest in black cotton knit. It reached just below my waist and had an exaggerated shoulder, almost a flange. Though not usually drawn to vests, I was about to travel for several weeks, and wanted changes that fit in a carry-on. In the boutique, I felt decidedly 'updated'.
On the trip, I wore it a few times over a thin-striped tee. It felt like someone else's clothing, maybe a Berlin architect's. I told Jane I'd to give mine another go, and so I did, and concluded that it was too short and wide. A trend has to fit physically and psychically.
Jane jumps in
Last week, Jane e-mailed to say she had taken the plunge, buying (with reservations) this H&M poly/acrylic/wool ribbed-knit version. This is a case when a low-cost (about $CDN 35) but spot-on design could make sense: trying out a trend. (Also sold in black and light taupe.)
Now, of course, I see them everywhere—and though I just donated my first try, I'm still intrigued.
Warm thanks to Jane for her question and observations; we'd like to hear what you think, too.