I’m working on new designs and have found myself musing upon questions of proportion.


(please don’t laugh at my shoddy sketching. I am useless with a pencil and Fashionary is a genuine godsend for me!)

It recently occurred to me just how much, over the past twelve months or so, I have been enjoying experimenting with different shapes and proportions in what I design and knit, as well as what I want to wear.

From Strathendrick’s oversized square, with skinny sleeves . . .


to the wide lines and cropped length of the Carbeth cardigan

. . . and jumper

. . . to Pabaigh’s combination of loose grown-on sleeves and funnel neck.


These shifts in proportion have affected how I style my designs, as well as what I’m enjoying putting on my body every day.

wide-legged dungarees, worn with Polkagris kerchief

loose dropped-crotch jumpsuit, worn with Oran do Chaora


simple square-cut top, gathered balloon pants, tortoise and hare gauntlets

Big blue pants, coral-red stripey top and Traigh

I find myself wearing fewer neatly-fitting skirts and dresses and more wide, loose-legged pants and tops. And, just as in what I’m I’m designing, in what I wear I seem to feel much more interested in playing around with volume and shape, than in garments that closely fit my body.

With all this fun experimenting with new lines and proportions, I have found myself dispensing with any residual concerns about what may and may not suit my body shape. I have forgotten that high waists are supposed to be “difficult” for someone who is short waisted; that width and volume are not really “supposed” to work on those who are not tall.

I put on a very big pair of big pants the other day and Tom said I reminded him of this.

. . .the apogee of big panted style, surely.

A large part of my current shape-shifting is certainly inspired by trends (there are definitely more big pants around for those who want to wear them) but there are other reasons for it too, upon which I’ve been reflecting. After my stroke, I was frequently told what I was supposed to wear as a newly disabled person (for example, in hospital I was instructed to wear particular kinds of “leisure” clothes which were meant to be comfortable and easy but which I found alien and disconcerting). I hated such injunctions, but I also often experienced an uncomfortable conflict between what I really wanted to wear (I wanted to wear what had made me feel like me before my stroke) and what my body could actually now cope with wearing (for example, it was impossible for me to wear shoes with any kind of heel or skirts that impeded movement). Disability meant that, for the first time in my life, my choice of garments was restricted, and that my style had to be determined by physical ease and comfort as much as any look I might have wanted to achieve. As time has gone on, I’ve felt much more comfortable about feeling comfortable, as it were, and I think that a greater acceptance of physical ease has in turn freed up the way I think about things like garment shape and volume.

All of this has prompted my question of proportion: have you found yourself playing with or wearing new garment shapes at particular phases in your life? Has your attitude shifted towards different garment shapes at different moments? Did the effects of age, disability, an alteration in belief or perspective or radical physical change (like sudden weight loss or gain) ever make your make you reconsider the proportions you thought suitable for your body?

Really enjoyed your thoughtful responses to my “blue” post. All comments gratefully received.

94 thoughts on “a question of proportion

  1. Most definitely. What a great topic – and I find all the comments very reassuring, where were all these sensible women during my life?! I am 5’1″ and have always considered myself fat since I was a child (I am not of dainty build and never petite like Kate, my wrists measure nearly double those of a similar height petite friend!) though for a long time, I wasn’t really. From my mid-50s perspective, I now see I was perfectly normal for my build, just not that ethereal look that is “required” of the young… and it really affected me and my confidence. Plus my mother would always say, “people like ‘us’ can’t wear xyz…” so that my own lack of self-image also suffered by others’ expectations. Add a MIL who is over 6′ and super elegant, a sort of Grace Kelly type with airs and graces, who looked down on me physically as well as otherwise (not good enough for her son!) and my complexes were complete.
    Nevertheless, clothes have interested me since I was quite young. I wore unflattering school uniform in England, but moved abroad and had none after the age of 8, in the 70s, but was in an international environment with all kinds of influences and the freedom to wear what we liked. At the same time I had a close connection with England and the teen focus on fashion and these two worlds clashed. For many years I wondered what “my style” was. We had our own norms, trends, even a sort of uniform at school – Levi’s, band T-shirts or plaid shirts, down jackets and Adidas trainers and if you didn’t wear that you didn’t belong, it was cruel, really, as those were expensive brands (it was an expensive school and I was a teacher’s daughter, so that didn’t help, either!). I did try m own thing sometimes – red dungarees I adored are memorable! I always loved colour. And the idea of capsule wardrobes! But then at 16 I returned to England, influenced by my denim uniform and the standard rock music we all loved, to the late 70s disco fashions and “Jackie” magazine, to a New Wave era – but I wasn’t really brave enough to join in completely, so it was navy and burgundy jeans/sweaters/skirts (for the first time, skirts!) and kitten heels I dug out of my granny’s shoe cupboard for school, with some frills and furbelows for going out… my memorable outfit for 1981 clubbing was tight white jeans, a white pirate shirt, rainbow scarf belt and rainbow eye makeup lol.
    However, I moved back abroad at 18 and had my first child at 19, a different culture both for life and work, and I had to learn to adapt, or thought I did. Later, marriage and more children and I never thought I had found “my style”, I was constantly trying to fit in with the norms at home, work and my in-laws and today I could kick myself – I never felt I got it “right”, always felt uncomfortable and criticised, spent a fortune on clothes for looks I thought I should be trying, for the person I thought I ought to be, I wasted a lot of time and money that could have been better spent, especially with my children. That makes me sad.
    As I have aged, I have become both more confident and more independent, and yes, fatter – up and down, but usually a couple of stone up – and menopause has added some minor complaints. Nothing like the health problems many of the commenters deal with, for which I am in awe, makes me feel very egotistic for all the time I’ve spent on clothes, style, image.
    These days I still love colour and probably go for different proportions, yes. Though those also change with the decades, different silhouettes are more/less acceptable. Having said that, these days we do pretty much have an ‘anything goes’ society, for which I am grateful. My mother still opens her mouth to say “‘we’ shouldn’t wear xyz” and I say, you know what, I don’t really care, I like xyz and will wear it if I want to and it doesn’t look too ridiculous! With four young grandchildren, I need clothes I can get down on the floor in, and for me, I love my colourful jersey tunics and leggings. I need things a little more fitted, not too baggy, or I look like I’m wearing a tent flowing off my broad shoulders, but a fitted top that is generous on the wide hips/tummy and leggings that show my short but curvy legs is fine. I’ll wear a short skirt in summer and it’s hot (or skorts), especially when sailing. I don’t mind showing a bit of décolleté and a big smile. I have stopped wearing underwire bras and have found light, breathable but adequately supportive sports bras that don’t look like my granny’s. I want to be comfortable, for sure! I have also defied the norm (I was never really rebellious!!) by growing my hair out as it has greyed. It’s quite curly and I always liked the idea of a mane, maybe it helps me roar :) It’s nearly waist-length now.
    One change has happened just recently – for a few years I have loved the freedom of flip-flops and spent all my summers in them, walking miles, feeling my barefoot look was comfy and natural. A few weeks ago I began to get excructiating hip pain and worried that my excess weight had suddenly come to bite me, though I still had full hip mobility, just pain walking and lying down. In desperation I got out some ugly Birks (I know they’re fashionable but I still think they’re pretty ugly!) and my trainers and made a point of putting the flip-flops away. Within a week I was almost painfree. More food for thought, and a lesson learned. I will be sticking with low-heeled shoes and sandals that fit around my feet and especially, heels, from now on!
    I could talk about these things all day, loved reading all the comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an interesting question! I believe when I was younger, growing up in Alaska, it was my mission in life to be a non-conformist with my clothing. Consequently, I did not care much about style and almost always chose function and comfort first (there were ‘date clothes’ and ‘party clothes’, but within that genre, I think I still chose comfort over fashion). Jeans. Gauzy embroidered tops (I sewed most of them myself back then). I fit in perfectly back in the 70’s — everything was OK back then and I had the confidence to wear whatever made me feel good. I don’t recall ‘proportion’ being a limiting factor?

    I graduated to business attire in my twenties because it was expected and I felt compelled to ‘fit in’ then as I moved out of Alaska and proper clothes were most definitely EXPECTED!! I remember being not-so-confident and chose clothing that would protect me (somehow) from standing out. Darker colors and off-the-rack style. “Classic” styles were my favorites — slim skirts, Chanel-style jackets, etc., but NEVER did I choose the ‘latest’ things as that required confidence that I did not possess in my middle years.

    But now, I think I just don’t give a damn? I mean, not-too-small is good. Clean is good. Not ragged if I’m going to work is good. Comfortable and functional define me again.

    Like I said – an interesting question! But a question that I really cannot answer as it was posed because I don’t think shape, proportion, etc., has ever really crossed my mind – at least not the way it seems you wish to know. I had never really thought about it, and appreciate this little self-revelation!! I have always chosen to clothe myself based on how I feel about myself. If I feel GOOD, I like wearing clothes that feel good, regardless of how they look to others or how they fit with the current trends. When I feel NOT-SO-GOOD about myself, I like to wear what everyone else is wearing so I can hide in the crowd.

    Like

  3. I have always prized comfort (well, perhaps short of when I was 17 or so but that was quite awhile ago now…). For example I haven’t worn high heels regularly in probably over 10 years. But in general I have also tended towards more fitted garments, and I recently have begun to think differently about what I wear due to the effects my second pregnancy has had on my body. I am now more interested in looser outlines, especially around my middle as I now have diastasis recti and as a result a slight bulge around my middle that never used to be there. Certainly it is something I never had expected; after my first pregnancy, following extensive breastfeeding I was left thinner than I had ever been–but during my second I found it much harder to take as good care of myself as in the first (after all, I had a 3-year-old as well), and while pregnant I pulled a muscle in my abdomen and got severe PGP (so bad I could hardly walk). I would imagine all of this–the PGP, the pulled muscle (which bothers me still), and the lifting of my 3-year-old while pregnant led to the diastasis, and now with 2 small children the time I have to dedicate to myself is absolutely minimal and though I would like to think I can still rehabilitate my core, but at the same time I am trying to accept that perhaps my 36-year-old mother-of-two body will never again look like my 32-year-old mother-of-one body did, and for the time being things like bubble tops are starting to interest me as a way to feel good about my body & what I’m wearing right now. I also have found myself reaching more for my tankini than my bikini tops this summer for the same reason. Regarding pants I have always preferred ones that allow a bit of give (e.g. bootcut over slim fit jeans), but especially in the heat I enjoy ones like your gathered balloon pants (this preference predates motherhood for me, but I am also a yogi). I have also seen since becoming a mother that the pullovers I knit so happily have seen little use over the last 5 years; lots of breastfeeding has instead led me to an almost exclusive use of cardigans or tops with buttons at least halfway down the front.

    Like

  4. I feel alienated sometimes by remarks of how clothing fit has shifted with age: I remain nearly as bony as (and weigh what I did) at age twenty, and I’ve borne a child. Certainly the balance of fat and muscle has changed since then and my waist has thickened a bit, but the ways my shape disagrees with standard US clothing are the same: broad shoulders, short torso, shallow bust, thick legs, and always on the lower edge of where doctors ask, “…Do you eat enough?” Yes, I do.

    Clothing that fits at the shoulder and admits my thighs is lovely. That’s no different in middle age than it was, however: usually it is loose everywhere but shoulder and leg. What I strive toward now is to avoid looking as though I’ve donned a sloppy, disproportionate bag.

    One of these days I will knit myself a pullover that fits! I’ve managed two cardigans—though one looks sloppy—amid undoing, and learning from, a dozen different false starts. Much appreciation for good pattern-writing, meanwhile. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The more I age and battle life’s vicissitudes (cancer, divorce, less energy) the more I just don’t care about what is in and the more I value my own ability to make my own clothes and wear and do whatever I want. When I lived in England years ago (I’m American) I first heard the phrase “mutton dressed as lamb” and it became this kind of powerful phrase to me … that was a thing? Wow … and even today I have to check myself when choosing a new fabric or style to make: is this too “young” for me? who cares??? Not lambs and ewes …. basically my rule is, could I dance in this? and then I go from there. Thanks Kate for your patterns and thoughts! I’m working on Pabaigh right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Being a “woman-of-a-certain age”, weight has gathered unbidden around my waist, so tops that stop there aren’t flattering. Long skirts are “in” , but legs still look good, so shorter is for me. I’m finding it freeing to be older. I don’t care what is “in”! I’m happy wearing what I like and what I feel good in!
    Not many advantages to getting older, but perhaps this freedom is one of the best perks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Getting pregnant meant I had to make obvious changes to my wardrobe, but the bigger issue has been breastfeeding for two years since, and still going… I almost always have to wear separate pieces now for milk access, and so there are a lot of beautiful dresses and hanging rather neglected in my wardrobe. I prefer to make my own clothes where possible, but there are very few dressmaking patterns designed for pregnant or breastfeeding women, so I have learned to improvise and adapt. I tend now towards fabrics that will launder easily but are still good quality – no more delicate silk blouses, but lots of chambray and linen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A thought-provoking post as always Kate. Reading all the comments has been a revelation to me.

    I was skinny until I had my first daughter, then slim and wore clothes that reflected my young (21), energetic self. As she grew, so did I to a healthy size 12 – 14 and then her father began to call me Lumpy and I began to retreat into myself. Clothes became baggier, wider and as other people said, easier to hide in. He left us and the need to work and provide gave me the boost I needed. I lost weight and felt like myself again. I met my husband, had another baby and gained some weight – about a stone – and a roll of Caesarian belly. Thirteen years on and it’s going nowhere, especially after another baby. But that was OK, I could wear clothes that hid it well enough even though I felt as though I was wearing a sack. And then I began losing weight again, and I felt more like me, hurrah! Until stress and depression hit me like a train last year and the meds have made me pile it all back on. I don’t feel like me at 12 stone. This time though, I’m fighting back and instead of wearing the baggiest clothes I can find, I’m sewing my own clothes in fabrics and print that I love and patterns that please ME.

    But to read that other women experience the same feelings, well, that’s the best thing. Lack of self confidence and poor self image leave one feeling isolated and ‘it’s not just me’ is the most wonderful tonic. So thank you Kate for the reflection you made me take today and for the feeling of being lighter on the inside. I’m off to knit and sew whatever I darn well feel like today, and whatever it turns out to be I’ll wear with pride knowing that other folks are doing exactly the same.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I am old:70, and there is a freedom to that: I can wear what I choose, and really it didn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I like asymmetry and am like to play with shape and proportion. As I grew older, I grew the bust that I wished for as a teen, and that more than anything has changed how I think about fit. I live in the American Midwest and fashion comes more slowly here, so by necessity I become inventive about getting the looks I want. Although you might not recognize it as such, Pabeigh is on my needles now, and so is the Carbeth Cardigan, so it seems that at this moment in time, our thoughts about proportion are on the same track; I am hoping for more of the same I will wear these shorter sweaters over longer layers beneath; my pants may be loose or slim, my shoes will always be flat.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My biggest bug about clothes, is finding something that actually fits my long waist, wide hips, short legs, and extra tummy roll. Now that I’m retired, its baggy jeans sometimes with the waist rolled down, and jumpers with the long sleeves rolled up, apparently my arms are short too. I see that you have drawn a bat-wing sleeve sweater…yes please! I do recall having one of these many years ago and found it very comfortable and great for concealing the tummy roll.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Kate, thank you for starting this conversation. I have really been enjoying the looks that you have been sharing recently, and it has been helping me think more about what type of clothes work best for me. I have always been self-conscious about my size, even when it was quite average, and struggled to find a look that I would feel comfortable wearing. Now, at 48, and plus-sized, with psoriasis and emerging psoriatic arthritis, I really need those looser clothes that I hid in so many years ago. My focus has to be on comfort and ease, as stress only makes my symptoms worse. I also am finding that I prefer to dress to please myself instead of someone else’s notion of fashion. With so many forces challenging our choices on a daily basis, the least that I can do for myself is dress in a way that lets me be comfortable being me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is such a timely post for me. I’ve recently been diagnosed with lymphoedema in the whole of one leg and one side of my abdomen. The affected leg is 60% larger than the other.
    I’m adjusting to wearing a full leg pressure garment that I’ll likely need for the rest of my life. I’m having to reevaluate my whole wardrobe as a result, and realise I need to find a good fusion between what I need to do to manage this condition and what I need to wear to carry on being me (whatever that
    means….).
    So – I’ve really appreciated this post and all the many thoughtful and positive comments here. Good for thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve had lymphedema for 9 years , firstly my left leg, and then both for the last 6 years, and have learnt over time what works for me, both practically and for me to feel comfortable as me. I’m aware I look different and dress differently and I must admit it used to bother me. The pressure garments can be uncomfortable (particularly in this heat!) but it becomes a part of you and a way of life.
      I wish you well on your lymphedema ‘journey’ and finding the clothes to make you ‘you’.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Kate…and all who have responded…thank you for this discussion! I never really liked or felt comfortable in overly fitted clothes. But I wore them through collage and beyond and it was the norm. but I was always looking for what I wanted! One day many years ago the mother of one of my Montessori students told me that a thrift shop near me had been the recipient of the stock of a closed yarn shop.I dashed over as I had very little money to spend at that time hoping for a treasure.And I found one! Not in the yarn, but I found an Eileen Fisher navy linen shirt! The linen, the color, the shape was a life changer!Still it took quite a while longer too translate the boxy shape into my knitting. As time passed I had two cancer surgeries, broke a shoulder and an arm and gained a few pounds. But the more relaxed look I’ve adopted has never made me happier! Kate…when I saw your Strathendrick I literally cried for joy!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Julie

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Perhaps I just wasn’t brave enough but until recently I couldn’t actually ever wear what I wanted to. It’s nice to have a style of your own but I struggle with colour combinations.. and I usually cringe when I hear people say ‘oh look isn’t this so you’, usually while holding up something totally hideous. I envy those who know what they like and what suits them. Nowadays I live in Spain in a very rural area. I can wear more or less whatever I want because the locals think we’re mad anyway. But if I need to return to the UK then I’m really stumped! I love your style.. wish I could wear the head scarf but it does nothing for me. Working on the big pants..😀

    Like

  15. When I had my second child (2005) I experienced sever PND which left me with dibilating vertigo. I could barely walk for six months, and only then aided by a pram for two years after that. As such the weight piled on due to the fact that I wasnt walking or moving much. I hated my shape – I went from a size 6, and knowing whatever I picked up in the store WOULD fit me, to, well a different size (lets just say there’s a six in there somewhere, to quote Red Dwarf). It was horrendous and it took me a long time to accept the bigger me (I never returned to size 6). Baggy things made me feel fat, tight things made me LOOK fat, but I found I enjoyed layering clothes more, break up the silhouette and play with colour. Age also has had me thinking about the things I wear – you have to be careful, one minute you’re a cool young thing, and the next you’re on the verge of being a mad cat lady. One thing I do now is dress for comfort. Life’s too short for anything else.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on proportion. So interesting to me that as the seasons change, the proportions that worked in the previous year may not work in the new one! I’m not wearing any of the flowy summer tops that I sewed a few years ago. And, like you, I’m wanting my pants legs wide and roomy — but I want to pair them with a more fitted top for balance.
    I just returned from a trip to Seneca Falls, NY — site of the 1st Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 (https://www.nps.gov/wori/index.htm) and was fascinated by the exhibits on “Bloomers” — the wide legged pants gathered at the ankle worn with a shorter dress over top that became popular in the mid 1800s for women [they were also called “reform dress”; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloomers_(clothing)%5D. At the time, the current fashion was for “Long skirts with layers of petticoats hung from waists corseted tightly, exerting 20 to 80 pounds of pressure on their internal organs. Lack of mobility, shortness of breath, digestive problems and general weakness resulted.” Who wouldn’t want bloomers rather than that!!!
    They were a group of smart, motivated women that drafted the “Declaration of Sentiments” that year and I am in awe of them (an excerpt: “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”) (https://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/declaration-of-sentiments.htm).
    “How can you … ever compete with a man for equal place and pay, with garments of such frail fabrics and so cumbrously fashioned, and how can you ever hope to enjoy the same health and vigor with man, so long as the waist is pressed into the smallest compass, pounds of clothing hung on the hips, the limbs cramped with skirts, and with high heels the whole woman thrown out of her true equilibrium.” (Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting. I just visited The Mount, the summer home of Edith Wharton, in Massachusetts, where the guide said Wharton did all her writing in bed in the mornings, so she could work free of corsets and cumbersome garments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amazing! What a smart woman! It’s so interesting that it took women so long to break free from those corsets; Edith Wharton was born in 1862 — 14 years after the 1st Women’s Rights Convention and original heyday of bloomers. Thanks for writing about your visit the The Mount — I just downloaded one of her books from the library that I’ve never read … aptly titled “Summer” ;)

        —> and I just read this about Edith Wharton: she was living in Paris when WWI broke out and chose to stay there and devote herself to creating a network of charitable and humanitarian organizations … including workrooms for unemployed Seamstresses… (this warms my seamstress heart)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. And Kate — bloomers came to Scotland, too!

          “Despite ridicule and censure, the Bloomer as a public, day dress for middle-class women, rather than as an immodest, private dress donned at spas, had spread quickly from Seneca Falls — where Bloomer lived and worked as an editor and speaker — to Scotland, England, Canada, and Australia — all across the fractured British Empire. It spread by word of mouth, through correspondence and through ‘The Lily’, where Bloomer offered free patterns for the costume in return for subscriptions.” [The Cambridge Companion to Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Writing, p. 78]

          Talk about having a great marketing angle — free patterns for subscribers — just imagine what Amanda Bloomer could have done if she’d had social media! ;)

          Liked by 2 people

  17. As with many other comments above, I , too struggled at midlife with a 25 lb. weight gain, after a blissful life of thinness, and coupled with medical issues, was forced to adjust my style for medical and weight reasons. But, all is not lost! I decided to take my fashion cues from Agatha Christie’s character, Ariadne Oliver, who wore gloriously drapey and creative fashions and accessories, all while being relatively short! Today I take my inspiration from women dressing in the first quarter of the 20th century and also from the era of Jane Austen. Glorious, comfortable and stylish. Thank you, Kate, for continuing to design knitted options for women of all shapes and sizes, and for being sensitive to the needs of many shapes!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thanks, Kate, for the lovely knits, ideas, photos, clothes and conversation. I notice that this conversation has skewed heavily to 1) age-related issues, 2) body-image/health issues and 3) personal freedom.
    So, the first thing popping into my head upon finishing reading the comments was this quote, with best regards to all my fellow travelers of whatever age and size.

    “Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.”
    Dorothy Leigh Sayers

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Great post, Kate. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. It’s nice to feel like I’m in good company in terms of the middle age changing body shape. At 4’11”, I have a difficult time finding clothes that are proportional to my body, and with weight gain that has become even harder. As a young woman, I was quite shy and never felt comfortable expressing myself through fashion. I have always placed a premium on comfort over style, basically living in jeans and sneakers as much as possible. Now, I would like to dress more stylishly, but getting a good fit is challenging, as is feeling good about my heavier self. Guess I should learn to sew!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It is interesting to consider the cultural definitions of what is beautiful, youthful, feminine, attractive and to experiment with those ideals in dress. Right now Japanese designers are presenting a wide variety of shapes and volume in clothing. I don’t see acceptance of the same in the West. Well-fitted and attractive often means showing off your natural figure or a great deal of skin. To present yourself otherwise is to appear different, contrary, creative, odd (the essence of the Bowie costume). I enjoy and appreciate the experimentation with the norm in dress. Breaking the rules is one of the joys of creativity. I encourage your explorations and look forward to the coming designs.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. My most recent change in clothes types has come from a career shift- being made redundant at 43, going travelling on and off for the last 6 years, retraining as an Ecologist- I now live most of my life in durable trousers/site boots, or even (as yesterday) an entire day in a second-hand green RAF canvas jumpsuit and gardening gloves (dense scrub, it’s a doozy). At my desk (home office) it’s baggy linen trousers, T-shirt and Birks. The balls of my feet have spread from wearing flats for 6 years solid, and I can only manage platform/squidgy wedges for a few hours at most. I never was the most put-together or glamorous dresser (my mantra was always ‘can I run for a bus in this?’), but what I find myself doing now is infusing colour into outfits to get that hit of ‘love it’- so bright yellows, oranges (bought myself an orange party dress from Oxfam the other day), Klein Blue, acid greens and yellows to bring a bit of alternative joy to the day. Though having said that, my favourite item at the moment is a second-hand Fjallraven men’s jacket in lichen green that I wear for bat surveys, that has BUM POCKETS!

    Liked by 3 people

  22. For me style changed with contact urticaria brought on by insect bites so no tight waistlines . I started wearing shift dresses and cardigans instead of skirt suits and trousers . Then plantar fasciitis stopped me wearing heels . I feel liberated in my comfy shoes and clothes but look very different so I grew my hair which goes with my softer less businesslike look. I prefer the new me.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Such an interesting blog post, as usual! I loved reading all the responses as well. It made me think about those clothes we hang onto far longer than we should, for their connection to the past and to the past selves we are not yet ready to give up … I have tried to be much more ruthless with my closet, and regularly donate items I have not worn in a year, but there are always some items that are very hard to get rid of. Thank you for writing about these issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh yes, although still slim I have ‘bloomed’ with middle age and had to part with many clothes (which when I decided to do it, was rather liberating – letting go of that younger shape and embracing my new one), but there are a few that stay on for sentimental reasons including a beautiful skirt of my mother’s that I ‘borrowed’ in my teens and became properly mine in my twenties. I last wore it nearly ten hears ago, I can’t do it up anymore but it’s staying.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I would say yes as to making changes in my clothing. Was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost 2 years ago. I haven’t left the heels entirely but since I can lose my balance at any time I had to rethink my wardrobe. I didn’t want to look like someone who gave up. It’s a slippery slope and one I’m not going down. I wanted to be comfortable but still have style and an edge. I rediscovered Dr Martins again on instagram. I have several dozen! The days I need to wear a shoe that will keep me steady and still look good is what I wanted. Wide leg pants and skirts. I prefer the shorter sweaters with wide legs pants. Long bully ones with skinny trousers. I can still wear heels but most days in my Dr Martins. I like looking fashionable in my own style. I’m 54 but I don’t feel it. I love mixing patterns with sweaters. I just don’t want to be that old lady stuck in an era. My sister is stuck in the 90’s and it’s embarrassing. I don’t know if any of this makes sense. Having MS changes everything. But I wasn’t going to be the handicap girl with the outdated or I don’t care anymore clothes. Knitting has been so therapeutic for me and forces me to remember patterns. Even if the day comes where walking is difficult I will still have my sense of style. I have a lot more confidence when I’m wearing something I made and looks good on me. Just my thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Meds and RA have changed my size, shape and what feels comfortable to wear – I feel my wardrobe has lost it’s style. The business suits, dresses, heals and jeans with cowboy boots have all gone by the wayside in exchange for comfy clothes and shoes. I still have trouble with the loss of style, I expecially miss my jeans and boots :-) So… I am quite enjoying your posts! Thank you! It’s time to finally pass the clothes I could no longer ever wear to others, find my “new” style, cane n’ all. I am excited to have just started my Carbeth Cardi. It will be my new beginning…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Yes! I have definitely had a shift in the clothing I choose to wear over the last few years. It started a few years ago while working nights I gained about 20 pounds. Finding ready to wear clothing was even more difficult as I am a pear-shaped woman. Now, rather than choosing figure skimming clothing I find myself drawn towards loose and free flowing styles. Styles I would have never thought to wear just a few years ago. I wear dresses almost exclusively and layering. Bulkier sweaters, leggings under dresses, etc. Thank you for your thought provoking posts, Kate.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I’ve never been much for making a statement with my clothing, but I’ve recently become interested in the idea of capsule wardrobes…wait for me, bandwagon! Here I come! This is partially due to circumstances (a move to a house with very little closet space), partially due to age (I’m settled enough in my career and hobbies to know what I need/like), but also what you term an “alteration in belief or perspective.” Overall, I’ve become less focused on variety and experimentation with my clothing, and more intrigued by the idea of a sustainable wardrobe, both ecologically and practically–that is, really getting all the possible wear out of my clothing, rather than having so many items that only work with particular outfits or circumstances. This has led to fewer, but more thought-out sewing and knitting projects; I’ve been finding myself repairing or trying to replicate treasured older pieces and silhouettes. So interesting to read everyone’s thoughts on this topic!

    Liked by 4 people

  28. I tended to wear oversized, loose tops since my teens. As an adult, thus far, I have lost a bit a weight in every change of location with some changes in weight distribution due to surgeries. So, I have found that I look better with a bit of shape in my clothes. I wear more fitted clothes than I used to. I used to work in a lab wearing pants most of the time and now do science administration where I wear a skirt or dress much of the time. I tend to be a bit behind on fashion trends. I would say that I wear a mix of styles, loose and more fitted, cropped sweaters and long tunics. I like color and don’t wear neutrals often. I remember being with some friends years ago and several of us were wearing similar cargo pants. One of my friends noted that all had various shades of khaki-colored pants, but I, of course, had the pink ones. I’m still the one who wears the color.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. My day-to-day clothes became overall more practical when I moved to northern Norway – far fewer skirts and dresses, particularly in a town that was often windy and very rarely went above about 21 degrees celsius, even in summer. When I broke my shoulder towards the end of my first winter there, that had an especially large impact. My husband was away for a number of weeks right after the break, and I was in a sling for eight weeks with seriously limited mobility for months after I was able to stop wearing the sling. I started to gravitate towards looser silhouettes on top, and I became more fond of button-downs than I’ve ever been before (as they meant I didn’t have to pull a shirt over the top of my head, which was difficult when I was still working to regain my range of motion to be able to lift my arm all the way). I bought one of my now most-worn pieces of clothing during that time – a secondhand LL Bean men’s wool cardigan, rather oversized on me but perfect for my limited mobility and preference for looser clothing. Even once the sling was off and I’d moved into physical therapy, I kept my preference for looser clothes. In some ways my shoulders were more sensitive, but I eventually also started building up muscle in my upper arms and shoulders that I didn’t have before the break. I used to wear a lot of things a lot tighter in the shoulder area – I buy my coats and jackets at least a size up now from what I bought ten years ago. In Montreal the skirts and dresses have worked their way back into my wardrobe in many ways, but I’m playing with looser silhouettes in dresses now too.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I am excited at the moment about oversized silhouettes and have been thinking about the reasons why; I’m loving giant, drop-crotch pants and enormous, all over playsuits. I also find I’m more excited about the colours of the things I wear and how they feel – the hand of the fabric – than anything else. This love of large, fun clothes that feel nice is something I remember from my early 20s, which was the last time I experienced a debilitating arthritis flare up that lasted for several years and involved huge amounts of pain. In my 20s I bought the largest sizes of everything and just wore everything with maximum positive ease. I also bought pyjamas and wore them as they were the only thing that felt soft enough and that would enable me to realise my slightly cat-in-the-hat striped sartorial ambitions. I experience large volumes of clothing as a route to a kind of interior headspace – a necessary inward looking mood – that I associate with the savage pain of active inflammation. I want to be close to myself while simultaneously shielded from crowds who jostle and harmful advice givers; I want – need – my clothes to be a kind of swirling playspace that brings me joy and cheer while simultaneously blocking unwanted contact. I like how large clothes offer a sort of retreat. Also: since I have had arthritis (aged 19) I find high-heeled shoes and pencil skirts abhorrent. I can’t stand in a pair of heels and when I tried on a pencil skirt in my late twenties I found I was extremely opposed to the idea of voluntarily restricting my own movements – perhaps because I was, at that point, so excited about rediscovering free movement in my body, following a new course of medication.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Dear Kate, I really appreciate and find inspiration in the shape of the knits you design. They provide a link between a cloth style design and transform to a knit. I would like a short wide bottomed cardigan( bit like Carbeth) but top half more regular cardi. Any suggestions for a pattern? I’m a competent knitter but not so in converting patterns.
    Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Oh, yes! Due to medication my weight shifted a lot (25 kilograms in a year, up and down). Sometimes my skin is so sore I can only tolerate wool, even in summer. I have a huge wardrobe and have not purged it since I’ve become ill, so I can wear my bigger clothes when I’m fatter and wear layers when I’m cold and wear very thin (threadbare) wool when my skin needs it. It’s a weird extra that I didn’t expect to be part of chronic illness.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. After a fractured leg from slipping on ice and a broken arm from tripping on uneven bricks, I’ve decided I like my clothes to be comfortable and easy to put on and off. Still staying with the bra but forget zippers you can’t close with one hand if necessary, or pant legs you can’t get over obstructions. All healthy now, but comfort seems to trump fashion.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I first had to adjust my clothing when something was removed from my arm. Then I could only wear long sleeves outside. I took to layers with long sleeve shirts and learned to sweat in the summer. Then I hurt my knee–anything tight was out. I tend to wear looser jeans and shirts, but am looking into making some of these baggy pants. Last fall I broke my ankle and I have been wearing the same high top hiking boots since getting out of a medical boot.

    I have put some weight on over the last ten years and now in my early 60s I am looking for other options to wear. I need to look for baggy pants online to make. (Something to go with a Carbeth.) I also love thrift stores for trying out need styles, colors, etc. For not much I can see if I like something that I would not normally wear. If I don’t like it, well it is returned.

    I love your style. It is a great expression of who you are and what you like. I need to find my own style now for this age and weight and my current mind. Thanks for inspiring us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I meant to add that I love overalls. In the summer they are loose and baggy with just about anything underneath. In the winter my signature look is cashmere sweaters and overalls. And if it is really cold and I am sitting in front of a computer all day, there is enough room for thermal underwear (I prefer wool ones).

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Love this conversation! When I left private law practice in 1992 I cut up my suits and made a series of quilts I called “Running from the Law.” Now, back to private practice for a few years before retiring, I’m enjoying the less formal office attire that is allowed and I keep edging more toward casual, hand-made clothes that just feel good. Kate Davies knitted items figure prominently in my wardrobe – both at work and at home. Love your designs, your family and your home territory photos!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Another recovering lawyer!

      I’ve donated my lawyer suits to charities giving them to poor women who need them for jobs and interviews- the suits are of our favorite fabric (wool!) and indestructible.

      I pitched the pointy-toed stilettos. “Fashion” may adore these foot torture devices, but I do not. Give me wide toe boxes and flat or nearly flat shoes.

      Unlike you, Kate, I prefer skinny pants, but I like A-line tops . While I like some slender sleeves, too skinny makes my older lady arms look like sausages.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Well, I just read EVERY comment and was so impressed with these women, esp Ann I think, who said she is ‘no longer hiding in her clothes’! I loved it. Having worn scrubs all my working life I had a hard time finding things that I ‘thought’ I look good in! OVER, DONE…….it is all about comfort and enjoying colour. You always look wonderful, thank you for this post! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Such an enjoyable topic to read your thoughts on fashion,Kate. The other posts have been rich in thought stimulus as well. My professional work life dictated that my clothing choices tended towards suits, tailored pants and skirts. Fashion always called me and I loved dressing up. In retirement, with a mobility disability and a bit more weight than I would like, my style choices are evolving into casual comfort and ease of putting on and taking off. I am still drawn to fashion and appreciate your insight into how choices of style are made personal and meaningful. Periods of transition and being thoughtful about why to make a change stimulates the creative soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. You are an inspiration Kate, as someone with multiple minor impairments, I am encouraged when someone who has had to overcome more than I does so with grace. Others are amazed when I don’t give up what I enjoy no matter what happens, you inspire me to keep forging ahead and staying strong.

    In my late 50s, post menopausal, post multiple surgery and injury, I definitely wear what I want, regardless of the “rules” for age or size. One of my recent surgeries has led to loosing half of my body weight! A big change. I have always made a lot of my own clothes as I have never been a standard size (short, large busted, tiny waist, even when obese), but being in sales, management, etc I had to dress a certain way. Now that I have my own business, teaching horseback riding lessons, I either wear breeches with some colorful top that I love, or skorts, short dresses, or leggings. I have dyed my going gray hair purple. I am me. And I am happy. I have donated all of my old sewing patterns, use software to size and design my own clothes, unraveled a lot of my knitted objects to remake in styles that I love. I get a lot of compliments on my new style.

    I am about to embark on a new phase of my life, owning my own farm, if I can get financing finalized, I expect my wardrobe will evolve somewhat, but color and shape will be for comfort no matter what.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. My opinions on styles and fashion details have changed considerably over 60 years. As a teenager and and 20-something, I designed and sewed many of my owned clothes, and I was fascinated and infatuated with many shapes, details, flourishes and excess material. As I’ve aged, as a very active person, I’ve become much more focused on classic and simple lines and form following function, and I don’t tolerate (for myself) a lot of excess material on my clothes that don’t have a purpose because they tend to get in my way of an active lifestyle, complicate my life and add stress, and also tend not to travel well. Unless something is clearly designed for lounging or extremely hot weather, I generally avoid garments that aren’t layerable (probably because I live on a coast with maritime influences with warm days and cool nights). All that said, I greatly admire high fashion and enjoy seeing unusual and dramatic clothing on people who wear them well and feel comfortable in them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I come from a very active family. I remember, as a young teenager, dressing up beautifully in a pencil skirt and then thinking ‘what do I do now?’ Since then I live in practical, comfortable clothes and shoes that allow easy movement but that I also like the look of, feel good in, get inordinately fond of! I may (less nowadays – different lifestyle) still wear ‘fancy’ clothes but very much for a specific event such as a party, and only if I could still dance in them :-) When younger I did’t want my clothes to stand out due to psychological scars from being bullied at primary school but I found that changed as I moved through my late twenties into my thirties and forties, became more relaxed and confident and cared less about other people’s judgments with every year.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. I was working primarily from home for the last 5 years and, since these political catastrophes ha e been stacking up, I started to move away from my typical bright colors and fitted looks to a more butch in black and grey kind of thing. Lots of dark baggy jeans and hoodies. Generally a “fuck off don’t talk to me I’m just existing here” mentality.
    Recently I took an office job at a college and I decided my work clothes would now be centered on baggy-but-fancy pants and I quite love them. I am so very happy there are lots to chose from now. They run the gamut from tropical prints to striped line

    I am also almost finished with my Twigs sweater, a design I instantly thought was beyond my liking but slowly it crept up on me and insinuated itself into my brain until I eventually just decided- fuck it. Whether it fits well or not is irrelevant in the wake of those great stranded patterns.

    I love the evolution of personal style, especially yours. Carbeth was my first sweater knit intentionally so large and I absolutely love it. The Carbeth cardi is next on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was a teen I always wore whatever I liked and my style was all over the place- shorts and combat boots with colorful tights, granny dresses and thrift store cardigans, etc. I always thought that waiting for age to feel the freedom of I Don’t Care fashion was silly. But as I have gotten older I really understand deep in my bones what it means to not dress for others. I’ve definitly grown even more into someone who does what she wants and it’s wonderful.

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Thank you for your blog Kate, I found it thought provoking. Lifestyle changes are occurring to me as well, first menopause, with weight changes. Now my second total knee replacement is upon me next week. Rehabilitation, to look stylish but have clothing that moves and is comfortable with access to that knee, i.e. shorts under a shirt. No jeans , too tight for the knee , no access. Clothing a shoes out of the closet to donation. Flat shoes no more heels. The cane and a problem of a purse so it does not slip off ones shoulder and hit into it when walking. I plan to make my Carbeth sweater as i rebabiliite, it is set up on the needles ready to go.
    Plans to keep me engaged mentally to deal with this very difficult challenge. Fashion why do those magazines exsit with no hint of life’s issues. We need blogs and support from real life as i have enjoyed reading your flollowers thoughts. I love the inspiration of your style.and your retrievers. I recently brought into our family last October our now year old retriever, the joy of his love and energy. I hope to enjoy walking him one day as i see you with yours. Thank you from Canada . Patricia

    Liked by 2 people

  42. YES…I have absolutely changed my opinions about what I feel comfortable wearing and look good wearing. I’ve recently retired from a corporate type of job in which conservative suits, heels, etc., were the norm…not required but the norm. I’ve since donated all of my little-man suits, as I sometimes call them to a free clothing place and am experimenting with lots of different styles. While I don’t have an ongoing disability, I have had required medical surgeries which have dramatically altered the way that I appear, especially wearing very tight tops. And, so I gravitate to loose fitting tops, drapey fabric etc. I’m comfortable wearing them and feel that they look really good. I knit Carbeth with a good deal of ease and it looks really great on me. It has been my “go to” sweater. I love your sense of style, Kate. I dressed with more imagination when I was in college…time to return to my roots!

    Liked by 2 people

  43. I find that as I get older, I care less about fashion and more about what suits my shape AND makes me feel comfortable. I have long avoided skirts because being dressed up makes me psychologically uncomfortable. However, I recently discovered that long skirts can be both physically and psychologically comfortable. I don’t have to worry much about exposing myself like with short skirts, and I don’t even have to worry about when I last shaved my legs!

    Liked by 2 people

  44. For almost 15 years at my job (software engineer), I wore jeans and solid-colored tops almost exclusively. The one day I wore a skirt I was accused several times of having an interview for another job. Then I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (a chronic condition which causes bladder/urethra pain, among other symptoms) and I found that constricting waistbands were contributing to my pain. I started wearing a-line knit dresses and leggings, in fun colors and prints, because they were easy to find and reduced the pressure on my bladder. Now I almost never wear jeans. I am much more comfortable, and I get many more compliments on my clothing than I ever did before.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have moved from working in an office environment to a school environment. And wearing a simple knit a-line dress with leggings and comfortable flat shoes is perfect for the lower primary grades I prefer working with. The dresses are comfortable and just skim my body and actually flatter my short curvy body.

      I am trying to move back into an office environment due to an ankle issue and I have come to realize that I do not want to work in a place where I have to dress up and wear heels or suits. I think my style can be professional in the a-line dresses and leggings depending on my fabric and color choices.

      Liked by 1 person

  45. I am enjoying the renaissance of wide-leg trousers and comfortably loose sweater shapes. My favorite garment, bib overalls, are now back in style and I bought some new ones at a Levis store recently. They are the perfect garment for my lifestyle and I’ve seen them come in and out of style throughout my life. The jeans you’re wearing with the Pabaigh top are great with those wonderful, large pockets! Your style and the beautiful fabrics with which your clothes are made are inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Hi Kate, I love reading your blogs! I love that you have embraced your own style. I do believe fashion is fun because you can interpret it to fit you. I have always loved fashion and enjoyed dressing in the latest trends, but as I have gotten older I have leaned more towards comfort. I love the legging explosion because they are SO comfortable., and loose flowing rayon type tops. My mantra has always been “dress the body you have, not the one you wish you had” In the end things will fit better and you will feel better. You are inspiring Kate, keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

  47. Thanks for this thought-provoking post. After having 2 kids in the last 4 years, I have been amazed by the well-meaning comments that I have received, either about what I am wearing or what I should want to wear, in this new stage of my life. I say “well-meaning” because, in reality, the comments carry an inherent judgment about my choices. The upside of all of this, however, is that I have discovered a new-found confidence and ease in my own body (and its miraculous ability to produce life) that enables me to experiment happily with what I wear and not worry so much about how I “used” to be!

    Liked by 3 people

  48. This post really hit home. I’m from the US, but live in Chile, where most women are shorter and thinner than I am. Fashions here lean more toward tight-fitting clothes, plunging necklines, and high heels. This means I have a double problem: I can’t find clothes and shoes that fit, and if I do, they tend to be styles I am very uncomfortable with (too tight and revealing) or too old-lady dowdy… I’m a “young” 62 and figure at this age, I should be able to wear whatever I want… and I’m coming to realize that the only way to make that happen is to step up my creative game, and start start sewing again in addition to being more creative with my knitting…

    Liked by 2 people

  49. Yes, my style and proportions nd ideas of what suits me have changed over the years. For one thing, I wear orthotics in my shoes now, so I feel best in hiking shoes. I do still wear dresses in the summer, but I kind of notice that the kind of shoe I wear is never in. Women’s shoes tend to be kind of low profile, have very little footbed and have a narrow toe-box- or at least the bulk of fashionable shoes do. And I am no longer willing to suffer. I have never been into skinny jeans, a child of the 70s here, and the legging clad giant shirt wearing years of the 80s really give me flashbacks to my awkward teenager self. But I need flares and bellbottoms to come back in immediately for other reasons. My hobbies, besides knitting and reading are ice skating, ballet and cycling, so I have a fine pair of muscular legs that no longer fit into those high boots that come into style. Or skinny jeans. Also, I do not wear boxy sweaters no matter how fabulous they look on other people– blame the 80s again and how awful I felt swimming in those giant pullovers. As for what I actually like? I have to give it some thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  50. Your article and all the comments resonate with me which is so validating. I’m turning 70 next month but enjoy good health and lots of energy. That said, I have noticed a slight but steady weight-gain over the past few years that has prompted me to change my style a bit. I find that I am most happy in clothing that skims my body rather than defining it. Therefore I’m enjoying a-line shapes, tunics, leggings as well as long and flowy pants. I’ve knitted up a couple of boxy tops with narrow sleeves and find them to be flattering and comfortable. Your posts inspire me to be more experimental in my clothing choices and more importantly accepting of the changes that occur to our bodies over time and making the necessary adjustments. Thanks so much Kate for sharing so much of your artistry and thoughts.

    Liked by 4 people

  51. Hi Kate,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I am curious about other tools you use when creating your designs. You mentioned Fashionary in your most recent blog. Do you use fashionpedia and do you use any computer programs when designing your fairisle patterns

    Liked by 1 person

  52. In my twenties, I worked in retail and dressed “up” for work every day. I was also very thin and could wear what was prescribed. After four kids…
    In my sixties, My waist is the same size as my bust and hips. I am a rectangle!! I discovered elastic waisted pants. I cannot buy any pants which fit my legs that also fit my waist. So I make them. Also leggings in the winter. I am currently trying to figure out what to wear. It is a process. For a long time I worked in a place where branded tee shirts and jeans were the uniform and now after retiring early due to chronic illness, I am kind of at a loss most of the time. I love tunics, so there is a start. I find most sweaters that I knit have to be lengthened because no one wants to see my belly. Especially me. But I love looking at clothes and find I am inspired by them, even if I never would need a boned corset or boiled wool cape lined with red silk…

    Liked by 3 people

  53. As always, you have written a great post that is both thoughtful and thought provoking. It’s a great discussion of fashion and style, ease and comfort, lifestyle and the person. Thank you for all you do and write.

    Like

  54. I am 66 and under 5 ft tall…I have tried my whole life to find garments that don’t make me look like I am a child in ill fitting adult’s clothes or a very short woman trying to be a teenager…I have always loved how you dress (and your knitting patterns!)..but never thought about it for myself…shifting proportions so I can be happy and comfortable in my clothes! Throw out the rules made by others and find my comfortable and happy clothes..reading your blog and everyone’s wonderful replies has opened my eyes…thank you all! Starting by donating every piece of clothing that does not make me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Great post, which rang several bells with me. Over the last few years I’ve veered from slightly overweight to almost underweight, due to a hyperactive thyroid, then back again to carrying more weight than I’d like as the thyroid was treated. I revelled in the hyperactive wardrobe of more fitting clothes, but have had to put most of them into bin bags as they no longer fit. I’d kept the “big” clothes but they’ve mostly stayed in their bin bags as they don’t feel like “me” anymore either. This is partly because I had to give up work, so my attempts at elegance (numerous black “uniform” shift dresses and snappy jackets) no longer have a purpose.
    I think I’m inching towards a style that’s compatible with my current life – without descending into what my daughter would call “bag lady” mode – and knitting my own clothes is helping me to explore what that might be. When I first started knitting again after 30 years, I only wanted to knit for others, and there was great satisfaction in designing bespoke gifts. Having gone round the family, I tried making something for myself and now I’m hooked – two cardigans and two tank tops in four months. I love being able to create, by trial and error, something that actually fits – and perhaps even flatters – my body shape. But the real joy comes from being able to “paint” my body in whatever quirky colour combinations I choose.

    Liked by 2 people

  56. Hello Kate,
    You’ve just got me thinking about the work of film costume designers. So many mid century actresses and actors were tiny, compared with modern western populations, but on screen they can look statuesque or sinuous without being swamped in fabric. It’s been illuminating to read about how designers created optical illusions with clever cut and fitting and a profound understanding of proportion. It was not just a matter of disguising features that don’t photograph well. It was all about creating volume, shape, or mass at the right scale.
    In American designers / Sarah Tomerlin Lee, editor (N.Y.: Fashion Institute of Technology, 1975), there’s a picture and description of the voluminous but impeccably scaled oriental trousers that the designer Adrian made for his five foot tall wife Janet Gaynor (page 26). It’s fabulous, and if you saw this outfit on a six foot tall model, you couldn’t imagine it would work for anyone else!
    We are fortunate to be in a time when dress, especially for mature women is less and less prescriptive. I remember when jeans on a woman over 40 or even 35 was regarded as totally wrong, even grotesque! I’m finding that regardless of my style decisions, I can’t be bothered with things that don’t fit me well. Good fit is comfortable. I adjust sleeves and hems, tweak waists and put functional pockets in all my full skirts.
    Thanks for articulating and sharing thoughts on your style evolution.
    Last observation; it’s interesting to see how the combination of narrow and loose (tight sleeves on the voluminous Strathendrick and the skinny T-shirt, loose overalls combo) keep volume and ease from swamping the wearer. I know from sad experience that loose is not always comfortable or practical; more than a few muddy trouser hems and jumper cuffs in the soup here.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Love Adrian! Also, love Adri, who did many lovely, flowing layered designs for Vogue Designer patterns, which I am now digging out. I may venture to make the patterns from Issey Miyake. Proportion is so important, and, as with my knitting, I’m paying much more attention to fit, keeping a sharper eye on *where* the looseness occurs, so as not to seem to be wearing a burka, baring unnecessary parts or, as you say, muddying my edges.
      Having made my first Carbeth Cardi (although slightly less bulky; I am in North Carolina, with a cooling trend on for the first time since late May, it’s below 90), am on to the jumper. The blue shawl looks lovely…

      Liked by 2 people

  57. I noticed a particular shift when I went back to school in my late 30s – all of a sudden I started wearing layers. Before that I’d always felt like layers would make me look heavier than I was, but at that point something shifted and I realized how flattering strategic layers could be. I’m not even 100% certain my classmates were really so distinctively layered or anything, but I wonder to what extent being surrounded by people mostly 15 years younger than me affected what I wore. I think I’m also (like everyone who buys most of their clothes) affected by the silhouettes in the shops.

    Otherwise weight gain/loss is the biggest driver for me – I definitely do the thing of wearing bigger clothes when I’m bigger, to disguise parts of my shape, even though I know sometimes that backfires and makes people look even larger. Ironically I wear leggings/tights much more now than I did in the past when I was skinnier, because I wear them with big flowy tops that are of great comfort to someone unhappy with their midsection (also no woven waistbands! no idea why it took me so long to realize how COMFORTABLE leggings are!).

    Liked by 2 people

  58. There is something so liberating about age for me. I have never been super invested in clothes and I always resented the time I had to spend finding things I liked. For long periods of my youth I felt mostly awkward and uncomfortable in many clothes. I developed a real tendency to slouch because I hated my generous bustline. Various kinds of shoes were my only real joy when it came to getting dressed.

    Now I am happy to say that I spend most of my time in jeans or long loose skirts and loose tops and I don’t really care if that is stylish or not. It allows me to do my work and explore my world and that’s what I care about now. If I can work in my garden, play with my kid, walk in the hills and spin yarn I am happy. My knitting and spinning is incorporating new colours and fabric is a chance to play and experiment. The lack of self-judgement that I am starting to achieve has been a great relief.

    Liked by 3 people

  59. I have always loved your style and made a few of your garments in the past. Having a wildly different body shape and never the nerve to adjust a pattern they weren’t always worn as much.
    With Instagram and blogs and designers and dyers of all kinds of body shapes my world has opened up. I used to make my own clothes out of magazines where none of the models looked like me, but now I’m looking at (and sewing!) online patterns because I can see these ladies I admire wearing the outfits I was uncertain about.
    Maybe one day I won’t be a jeans and shirt kinda girl…

    One thing though… If ever I should have the right occasion, your huge tartan skirts are amazing!

    Like

  60. When I am fit and happy with my weight, the freedom to wear what I want is a real joy. I feel comfortable in my own skin which translates to clothing. When I feel chunky, and have to lie down to zip a pair of jeans, I am not comfortable in any shape of clothing. Generally; what fits me best, is what I wear ( I’m lucky to wear scrubs to work). My shoulders are narrow- raglan sleeves fit well. My thighs are not small but my hips are on the smaller side. Neat fitting skirts with box pleats are perfect. Now that I have grey hair, it’s more about color. Pinks, black, greys look much better than reds, browns of earlier years. I do play with color more now- pairing colors that aren’t so predictable. And Doc Martens always fit me well 😊

    Like

  61. Getting pregnant made me reconsider my style. I used to wear really form fitting dresses. I realised as time went on I could still look similar but as a floaty skirt over my bump and stretchy camisole. And all those still fit me now as I walk around with a 2 month old baby!

    Liked by 1 person

  62. It’s interesting, because there have been quite a few knitwear designers talking about how they’ve all felt a natural evolution in their style, and it’s always been from the more fitted vintage look to the flowing, fabric conscious, look. There is obviously something in the air!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve noticed this too! As evidenced in the preponderance of massively oversized, deep-yoked jumpers among the hottest designs on Ravelry, which seems to have come out of nowhere in the last two years.

      Like

  63. When I was going through the menopause (Im 67, so around 12-15 years ago now), I went through a period of dismay about clothes – could I still enjoy fashion? How could I dress without giving up and being frumpy? I was browsing despairingly in a shop and said as much to the assistant. ‘There are lots of stylish older women,’ she said, ‘Look around you.’ I think clothes-wearing for me now is actually more fun than when I took notice of ‘fashion’. I still enjoy it, but there’s a lot of fashion that doesnt work now Im older (and I dont have to look a certain way for work), but the process of searching for my style, discarding old loves (eg tight skirts, short skirts, heels) and instead looking at looser clothes, more layers, different lengths of garment, comfier shoes and boots was actually an extremely creative process. I make a lot more of my clothes now, dressmaking as well as knitting, I keep things I like for longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  64. Interesting post, certainly made me think about what I wear and why. For work my clothes are very plain, I wear trousers and comfy tops, in my job (I work in a public library) anything short, constricting and revealing are personal no no’s. There is a real divide between what I wear at work and how I dress at home, in terms of style colour etc., At home skinny jeans, short skirts, nice tops etc., I was also sucked into the idea that as a large woman in her 50s there where things I should not wear – but I decided not to care, hence this years purchase of a mini skirt!!!! Several years ago I had plantar flasinitus
    which is horribly painful and has affect what shoes I can wear, my ballerinas and heels all went to the charity shop, and it was difficult to find shoes that are not really ugly………………

    Like

  65. This is very interesting as it completely expresses changes in my own ideas about what I want to wear and how I perceive my style. Despite being short and rather too overweight I too am moving towards a relaxed, comfortable fit. Quite contrary to advice I have been given about what shapes and styles suit me! I can no no longer wear ‘fashion’ shoes or shoes with anything more than a minimal heel and I feel happy in sandals and lace ups.

    I am looking for ways to achieve this level of comfort without ‘hiding in my clothes’ and still looking stylish in my own way. Without looking like my mother or grandmother! I haven’t knitted any of your garments yet but the photos of your style have been a real influence.

    For a long time I was always waiting to lose weight before I got a ‘nice’ wardrobe. Now I am thinking that I am what I am and if the weight gets lost that will be good but in the meantime I am going to stop ‘hiding in my clothes’.

    Now I am retired I have the freedom to wear what I want!

    Liked by 3 people

  66. I have found it really liberating to age, for my body to change and soften as I struggled with a spinal deformity and now as I am more able, to begin to lighten and tighten as I begin to walk more easily. I now walk daily and can manage a few miles, if nor every day at that length, which allows me to examine the new landscape and environment of my new home. I too sew and have allowed myself to experiment with shape and proportion and even just sheer comfort. I can’t draw for toffee but am looking at scale and have done some simple study to enable me to design shapes which I can then drape and which allow me to move easily and also feel artistic in my endeavours. Leggings are a bonus too! It’s a time of creativity and real pleasure, maybe it will expand into something very small scale commercially as my work has done in the past but for now the authenticity of hand-made is joyous. I’m so glad you are enjoying your creative process , and am slightly in awe with the swimming by the way. I have really found that as I accept my body’s limitations but explore what I can do, my whole creativity has awakened. This authentic journey moves me so deeply and nourishes me. Maybe a lengthy and a bit woo woo post perhaps but it’s given with pleasure at your journey too.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. I have always admired and often coveted the clothes that you wear, ever since I first began following your blog … years and years ago. Recently, however, I find that you are designing, making and wearing clothes that I am – often – also already hooked on.
    Like you I am a former academic (Eng Lit) [after an initial detour as a Biology teacher – don’t ask … my miner dad wanted me to be a Medic!]. Yet all along I just wanted to be a writer and fashion designer. From about age 15, I made most of my own clothes (and my Mum’s), but later, with the pressures of work, the production rate dropped. Thankfully, now that I am ‘free’ my designing and sewing has grown to fill my life … alongside the writing and research.
    Further, thanks to you and your amazing design inspiration, in the past 2 years I have even begun to knit. So, after years of thinking I was incapable of holding needles, I am now the proud owner of a pair of home-made socks, and am part way through my first fair isle.
    However, my greatest joy was, and now increasingly is, fabric manipulation and playing with patterns and shapes, and thus making all my own clothes – to my own designs (as well as masses of upcycling and fabric reclamation). I already loved baggy tops and trousers and floating freeform dresses and skirts – despite friends who constantly urged me towards ‘nice, sensible, fitted’ clothes – so now I make or customise almost everything that I wear. I love doing it, and it makes me deliriously happy. Thus, with my continued academic-ish work, I have this wonderful 3-track life (the 3rd strand being walking and climbing).
    So, I love your clothes. Sometimes I’m already there, and think ‘snap’ (my stash-bust jumper from last autumn and winter was a baggier, freeform cousin to Strathendrick), but more often – such as with some of your skirts and dresses – I take inspiration and then spiral on and out. So thanks, your clothes are wonderful – and not just the knits, so please keep up all the creating and free-thinking: woolly, fabric and intellectual.

    Liked by 3 people

  68. Dear Kate,

    March 2017 I had a kidney transplant. Being underweight and extremely thin before my transplant, always eating against loosing weight, my body and metabolism changed instantly after the transplant. Suddenly I gained 6 kilo’s of weight of which most decided to sit below my belly. Why?!
    Due to the menopause the volume of my breast are growing. Why? Aren’t they big enough already?!
    I was angry, upset, this was not MY body. I fought against it for over a year.
    2 months ago I decided it was time to stop fighting and accept the fact that all those lovely dresses were not for me anymore. So I cleared my closet, opened another closet filled with fabrics and started to look for patterns to sew new dresses. In stead of pencil dresses I have to look for A-line-dresses. A new start. A new chapter in life.
    For the next couple of months I’m planning dresses and skirts fitting my new body. And knitting cardigans to accomplish the outfit.
    The most important thing is we feel comfortable in our body and clothes.
    Your designs are lovely. Please continue what YOU like and YOU feel comfortable with.
    Take good care of yourself!
    Love, Margot

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Margot – a kindred spirit! My kidney transplant has also changed my body shape. Reading Kate’s blog has kept me going and I treasure all her books. Take care Carol

      Liked by 1 person

  69. I struggled for a long time to find something both comfortable and flattering in the shops. Everything, especially trousers, was just impossible! I didn’t understand at all what was happening and how everyone managed to wear this stuff nicely. Only later when I took a sewing class I learned I had an extremely big difference between waist and hip circumference, rather unusual even in the curvy, “Slavic-shaped” population (which is already quite uncared-for by normal fashion). So I started wearing skirts, sewn by myself. So liberating! But the biggest change in what I wore was, of course, related to pregnancy. I’ve lost most of the new weight now but what remains has stuck around the waist. So I had to adjust my skirts a bit but I can also wear shop fashion for the first time :)

    Liked by 3 people

  70. After the second operation on my head (I fell down stairs, suffered from 2 bleeds on the brain, plates were put in and a subsequent infection meant part of my skull was removed therefore part of brain was covered only by my scalp) I had to take great care in choosing clothes that did not go over my head. I have always enjoyed knitting shawls but only wore occasionally. I had knitted Houlland by Donna Smith (from your inspiring book on Haps!) in Rowan Felted Tweed – it had turned out big (of course!) and was put aside…but after that op I wrapped (hap-ped) myself in Houlland while recovering and it truly helped the process. Enough that I want to knit it again. A third operation placed a titanium mesh over the soft spot and I can pull jumpers over my head but still tend to step into dresses and skirts….Your post has given me a subject to ponder….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Me too! I used to be very precise and careful about what I wore, leaning towards style rather than function. Now I care much more about comfort. As we age I think we gravitate towards clothes that allow us to be all that we want to be, rather than clothes that make us look as we want to be perceived by others. This is a big difference. My body is nearly the same as it was twenty years ago, at least in dimensions, and fortunately I haven’t yet experienced significant physical limitations, but how I present it and use it is quite different.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “clothes that allow us to be all that we want to be, rather than clothes that make us look as we want to be perceived by others” – this resonates with me. I’m in my early 30s and more contented in myself than I have ever been before, and I do notice that my style decisions now have more of the ‘who cares what other people think; it works for me’ about them. And a lot more of ‘I don’t care how cute it looks; if it’s not comfortable I’m not wearing it’!

        Liked by 2 people

  71. The recent heatwave we are experiencing has forced me to reconsider my daily choice of garment and I have turned to Merchant and Mills patterns to quickly run up some loose flowing garments made of linens and Indian cottons. I really enjoy wearing the new shapes and am wondering how I can continue to use them as the temperature returns to normal. I am always fascinated by a new Kate Davies knitting pattern but find myself equally interested in what you are wearing with the new design especially like the blue baggy trousers worn with ‘ Traigh’ and the dungarees with ‘ Polkagris ‘ Thank you for continuing to inspire 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  72. Hi Kate – this really resonated with me as having hit the menopause ten years ago (in my 40s) and having gone from size 10 to size 16, I’ve had to really rethink my wardrobe. All the “experts” say if you’re big then don’t wear balloon pants or baggy jumpers, but I have to say I’ve completely ignored this advice. My wardrobe is now similar to yours with lots of baggy trousers, big swing tops and over-sized jumpers and I often pair these with brightly coloured scarves, kerchiefs and turbans to create a very ethnic and individual look that I love. Lots of people compliment me on being so individual, but my clothes make me feel good and surely that’s really what fashion is all about? If you feel good, you look good, end of. Thanks for a great post and Strathendrick is next in my Ravelry project queue! Best wishes. Laura x

    Liked by 2 people

  73. Firstly can I say, I love your style Kate!!
    If one’s style and what you feel comfortable wearing has to be adapted due to physical changes (and I believe you can always be stylish) that is one thing but my bugbear is being expected to wear certain clothes because of your age!! I will not be doing that! ;)
    Looking forward to your new designs!

    Liked by 1 person

  74. Such an interesting post, as ever.
    I have had a conversation with my mother for about thirty years now, where she says short people like myself shouldn’t wear wide trousers or long skirts, and I reply that I not only love wearing them but think I look great in them. I think it all comes down to not only how you style your outfit, but how you feel when wearing it.
    A lot of my trouser and skirt choices have been determined by manufacturer sizing as if it fits over my hips it is usually huge around the waist so I tend to wear leggings or garments that stop at the hip, or ones that have drawstring fastenings. I love wide, elasticated waist bands too.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. For me style has shifted with age. I worked for many years in the fashion industry Chanel, Prada and Loro Piana.
    Tailored suits are not the most comfortable items to wear. Now that I am no longer a representative of those companies I have the freedom to wear what I like. That is priceless. Especially with regards to footwear. I love teaming your fitted yokes with wide palazzo pants or Carbeth with high waisted wide jeans. I yearn for comfort and that is how I like dressing. You always look amazing and your clothes are who you are in this moment in time.

    Liked by 4 people

leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.