The how-to of sweater dressing

The humble knit is new again

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From a slim wool sweater to a chunky cable knit, a wardrobe staple is stealing the show.

Photo: Melodie Jeng, Getty Images

Take your knit pick

Aside from sealing her screen siren status, Monroe sidling up in Let’s Make Love and singing ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’ wearing only tights brought a definite sex appeal to the cable knit sweater. But the sweater can go several ways. In the same era Audrey Hepburn made the crewneck sweaters her signature in her personal life, and for the sanguine Holly Golightly it was a more glamorous beige roll-neck version.

Nowadays, it’s model Karlie Kloss looking easy and elegant with slim black pants and a backpack (above), the vibrant red of her pullover taking all the attention. Yes, the sweater’s growing prevalence in our wardrobes belies its subtle effect on how we dress. In other words, it’s more than just a modest knit. And selecting what you style the knit with changes its mood. At the autumn/winter 15/16 shows, Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s No.21 grounded diaphanous sheer skirts with nubby knits, while Michael Kors kept his all-Americana theme in check with a thin belt at the waist for a most waspish, ’50s feel.

And there’s more than just the basic sweater. Stella McCartney offered versions that were peplum-ed and knitted on the bias so that they morphed to the body of the wearer, and fashion’s soothsayer Phoebe Philo at Céline’s first look was a ribbed sweater made more dramatic with felted wool bell sleeves. After all, fashion, in the end, is really all about choice.

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