Fashion Friday, Pattern Release: Nantasket

It feels appropriate to end this week with a more hopeful, onward-looking message than I began it. So for this Fashion Friday, I’m offering up a new pattern: Nantasket.

nantasket-final-8 nantasket-tank-portrait-1

(Models and photo credit both go to a combination of Jackie and myself. Pattern: Nantasket. For the impatient? Go ahead and buy now for US$7.)

Nantasket is the result of some designer start-itis. It was the first string of incredibly hot days this summer, and I started thinking about summertime wardrobe essentials. The things you pull out of the closet and throw on every day, on your way to the beach or the office. Or on your way to the beach from the office:


I was sick of the wool on my needles, sick of the weather, and sick of the one little summer cardigan in my closet. I thought about what makes a summer tank a daily wardrobe choice, played around with the delicious Classic Elite Firefly, and Nantasket was born. I’ll save all of the nitty-gritty details for the pattern page, and focus on the fashion in this post:

  • The fabric is exceptional. The Firefly produces something soft and fluid. It goes perfectly with crisp shorts, faded denim, breezy (woven) linen, and would pair well with suiting too, if you’re corporately-inclined:
  • nantasket-final-7

  • Let’s be honest: This is an extremely simple, minimum-fuss tank that isn’t likely to prompt very many “Did you knit that?” queries. The detailing is simple and streamlined. It’s a subtle but great showcase for your knitting skill, because it’ll fit seamlessly into your daily life.
  • nantasket-final-15

  • It’s a great layering piece. Whether over a crisp button-down, like above, or over another tank, Nantasket is going to look great blended with/under/on top of your other favorites.
  • nantasket-final-3

We styled Nantasket two ways: With my favorite button-down shirt and a jeans skirt, and with a fabulous summer shorts/tank outfit. (Not pictured: Jackie’s amazing mile-high espadrilles, because who really wants to wear those on the beach?) I love the way the pullover version made my button-down/skirt outfit look more pulled together without adding any bulk. The fabric moved with my clothing, and I felt elegant rather than blanketed. I also really liked that the cardigan version looked great when layered over long sleeves, but equally good over another tank. It unified Jackie’s bright tank top and crisp shorts, without looking awkward.

I hope you love the sweater, and can imagine ways it might fit into your wardrobe. If you’re willing, I’d love if you’d share with us: How would you wear Nantasket? What makes something a summer wardrobe staple, for you?

FF: Why you (probably) don’t need short rows

(I realized that I hadn’t set an end time to the little contest I’m running. All comments entered before 9am on Sunday, July 14, will be considered and the winning yarn chosen then.)

Hi, all! This week on Fashion Friday, we’re talking about the bust line. And why the chances are good that you don’t actually need short row darts. First, an illustration of what happens when a busty woman puts on a sweater sized properly for her shoulders:


When you stretch knit fabric width-wise, it shrinks lengthwise. And when someone busty wears a sweater properly sized for her shoulders, there isn’t quite enough fabric to fully cover the bust (sometimes by a long shot). That’s okaaaaay, kind of, because knit fabric stretches beautifully. But stretching the fabric width-wise (over the bust) shrinks it length-wise.

Producing the lovely little rounded scoop over your stomach, here:


Super awesome, right? (NOT.)

The standard bust dart solution is to use short rows just under the apex of the bust to create an even hem on the bottom.

In most cases, I think this is the wrong choice. Let me explain.

Short rows are, fundamentally, a length solution: They add length to one part of a sweater.
But busts are typically width problems: The bust is wider than the rest of the woman.

Short rows will cause the hem to lay even, but the bust is still stretching the sweater all out of whack in the bust. If you’re using fabric with some drape to it, you’ll see through the fabric of the sweater because it’s stretching so much. (You can kind of see it in the blue sweater, above.)

A width solution, matching the width problem, is to add extra stitches to the front of the sweater, from the waist leading up to the bust, until the sweater’s front has sufficient width to cover the wearer’s bust. I call these vertical darts.

  • They’re easier to work than short rows: If you’re already working waist shaping on princess seam lines, you simply work additional increase rows on the front fo the sweater.
  • They’re less visible than short rows: For most people anyway, increases are naturally more discreet than wraps, and more importantly their placement is less eye-catching since it is further away from the fullest point of the bust.
  • They produce a more natural look: The fabric of the sweater is suddenly shaped like your body. Full stop. End of story. Rather than “Okay, well, you’re going to stretch it out, but that’s okay, because I’m going to add length so that when you stretch it out the bottom of the sweater is fine.” For a width problem, short rows are basically a kluge!

The extra stitches at the bust must be removed closer to the top of the shoulder. In most cases I prefer removing them in the neckline, but I know many women who have had success removing them the same way they added–decreases going up to the shoulder line. It’s your choice.

This kind of bust dart is beautiful. It completely eliminates the stretching problem:



It does produce something of a blocking challenge–you’re blocking 3-d fabric, so you’ll need to put some paper towels under there to hold up the fabric! But the results are well worth it. A sweater that fits, because the fabric is shaped like you.

Nothin’ better.


(Oh, and J. says “hi” too!)

Now, the title of this past was why you “probably” didn’t need short rows. For some women, there actually is a length issue. I find that knitwear can easily cover a 2” difference in length with no modification. But if your front length (distance from shoulder to hem) is more than 2” different than your back length, you might consider a short row dart. I do occasionally see this body in class, but nowhere near as frequently as I see a straight-up busty figure. (For reference, I have no length difference, because my bum and my bust cancel each other out, length-wise.)

Happy Friday! And I’ll see you on Sunday for the results of the contest–and maybe a new design!

FF: Why Bottom-Up

I hope that everyone who celebrates had a fabulous 4th of July. (I sure did!)

For this Fashion Friday, I wanted to talk a little bit about why the first release of CustomFit. I’ve gotten a few comments already about top-down raglans and whether CustomFit will produce them:

I knit top-down raglans. Will CustomFit work for me?
CustomFit works for everyone. But although we plan to change this in the future, it currently produces bottom-up patterns. You can choose between a pieced or (mostly) seamless construction. (Mostly seamless means the sweater is knit in the round to the armholes, then back-and-forth to the shoulders. The tops of the shoulders are seamed, and sleeves are worked top-down in the round. This produces a set-in-sleeve fit with only a few inches of simple seaming.)

Since I get a round of groans in every class when I suggest knitting a “pieced” sweater (whether you sew in the sleeves or pick them up and work top-down), I am absolutely, positively aware of how unpopular this garment construction is. A whole new generation of garment knitters have been brought into the sweater knitting fold with top-down raglans, and are loathe to switch.

Why that is, I don’t know exactly? But I think it probably has to do with the set-in construction seeming… daunting. There’s the seaming, maybe. Or short row sleeve caps, which are not exactly a simple-seeming alternative. There’s the apparent unpredictability of all of it: You don’t see whether your sweater works out until it’s finished. And emotionally, I think set-in-sleeves just feel so fussy and fashiony. What could be more attractive than the exact opposite of that?

I suspect that to anyone who was not brought to knitting specifically as a way to make clothing, it just seems… hard. Pointlessly hard.

…well, hard is relative, but it’s certainly not pointless. There are actually reasons for this fussy madness, and they relate directly to what CustomFit is trying to do. So let’s talk about the reason that trumps all others. I’ll start by talking about pieced sweaters, and revisit my “mostly seamless” option at the end.

A pieced, set-in-sleeve construction is the easiest to modify across all body types.

The importance of this cannot be overstated. If I want to produce software that will result in a perfectly-fitting garment for all women who come to use it, I must (must) start with a pieced construction. Here’s why. A well-fitting sweater will fit the wearer in the bust, cross-chest/shoulders, and sleeves. In a pieced construction, you have many degrees of freedom to achieve a good fit in those 3 areas fairly independently. I’ve marked them in green, here:


  1. Fitting the bust can be done by measuring it and multiplying it by your stitch gauge.
  2. Fitting the cross-chest can be easily achieved no matter how widely different the shoulders and bust are, because you can bind off many stitches if necessary.
  3. The bicep may be calculated independently of the shoulders and/or bust.

All of this is possible because the sleeve cap is where they all come together, and it can be solved for (largely) independently. The length of the bit marked in red must be the same length as the total armhole length (front and back) on the body. But while there are a few restrictions on how to shape the cap, as a designer (or a piece of software) you have lots of opportunity to make that length long or short, to match the body. And as long as they are the same length, the armhole and the sleeve cap can be done entirely differently.

Let’s contrast that with a typical top-down raglan construction:


It’s not that these sweaters are bad. They’re not. In fact, for those bodies they fit well, they’re pretty fantastic! The problem is that the red line here represents your opportunity, as a designer, to change the bust, cross-chest, and bicep–and you can’t fiddle with one without affecting the others.

There are a few things you can do. If you need a deeper armhole, you can increase every 3rd row instead of every other row. You could make the rate of body increase (the inside of the red line) slightly different than the rate of the sleeve increase (the outside of the red line)… but only slightly different. Try to get too fancy, and your fabric is going to pucker. Fundamentally, the way you make the bust larger is to make the sleeves larger and the armhole deeper. Period.

So if top-down raglans work for you, that’s completely and utterly awesome. But know that they don’t work (can’t work, even) for a large class of bodies. CustomFit has to work for every body. So it will start with a set-in sleeve construction, to give me the freedom I need to fit any woman’s shoulders, bust, and arms perfectly.

Thanks for sticking with me this far! A couple of more points.

  • A sweater that’s worn is always better than a sweater that sits in a basket awaiting seaming. This is why I’m offering the mostly seamless construction option. The math is fundamentally the same, and I have the same amount of freedom between those three crucial body points. But when you’re done with the sweater, you’re done! No seaming required except in the middle, and then only for the shoulders.
  • If you’re reluctant to knit a sweater this way because there is no security blanket of trying on the sweater as you go, fear not. CustomFit largely eliminates the need for that fear. It takes your body, and your gauge, and does all of the math for you. This results in a perfect fit without a single try-on.

I know that last one is hard to believe, because we’ve all gotten it so very wrong on at least one occasion. (Me too, by the way!). But I offer up the following as evidence:


This is a version of The Flutter Pullover, from the bookbut with a different neckline to better accommodate my body’s needs. It fits pretty well, right?



Here’s the cool thing about this sweater: I didn’t knit it. I had a few samples of book sweaters worked up to wear to classes and events, and this was one of them. Essentially, I gave my awesome sample knitter my measurements and gauge, and off she went. No try-ons, no eyeballing as I went.

It can work, I promise. And I hope that even if up until now you’ve been a die-hard top-down-raglan knitter, you’ll give another construction style a try.

FF: A perfect fit

Knit to Flatteris all about steering you through the process of creating sweaters you love to wear. I recommend starting by choosing a size to fit your shoulders, and then modifying the rest of the sweater.

There are several reasons for this, all aimed at making life easier for the knitter:

  • If the sweater doesn’t fit in the shoulders, it looks ill-fitting. Period.
  • Sleeve cap math (or math for the shoulders generally) is the hardest to modify of all the maths you might change up.
  • Modifications to the front of the sweater (or the back of the sweater) don’t necessarily have to affect any other piece–often, you can knit 3 out of 4 pieces as written in the pattern or with minor changes like length. Then, tackle the last piece once you’re comfortable with everything else.
  • Wouldn’t most of us rather divide once than deal with the Pythagorean Theorem several times?

For most knitters, choosing a sweater size based on your upper torso (the total circumference of your torso above the bust, instead of at the fullest point) is the only thing required to get a great fit in the shoulders. But of course, like everything else considered across all of humanity, there are exceptions.

Jackie (who you’ll be seeing a lot of around here since she’s now helping me run AHD behind the scenes) just so happens to be one of those outliers: Her shoulders are broad, and her torso is much smaller. Choosing a size based on her upper torso instead of her bust results in a much better fit than she’d gotten before…

…but hanging around me rubs off, apparently, because “a much better fit” doesn’t seem so great once you’ve seen perfect. You know? Case in point: Minx.


Overall this tank is great on Jackie–she modeled it when I was sending snapshots to my editor–but the cross-chest (width of the sweater after all armhole decreases are complete) is juuuust a bit too narrow. The picture above shows the way the tank looks after an hour or so of wearing it.

In Jackie’s case, sweaters that fit her upper torso, bicep, and bust result in a cross-chest that’s just a little too narrow. Reworking the armhole decreases (literally, just doing fewer of them) result in a much nicer fit. Here’s Jackie’s own Minx:


See how the armholes are just ever so slightly more where they should be? Perfection. (Photo credit Caro Sheridan.) Though Jackie has reported no problems in the sweaters she’s altered in this way, doing so is slightly risky. Here’s a short list of all of the changes to a sweater that will affect the sleeve cap calculations:

  • Bicep changes
  • Cross-chest changes (e.g. by altering the number of armhole decreases)
  • Armhole depth changes
  • Major row gauge changes vs. the pattern’s

Essentially, when you change one of these sweater elements you’re changing the length of either the armhole side or the sleeve cap side of where some complicated connecting needs to happen.

I’ll be doing a fuller post on sleeve cap mods (and their ins and outs) soon, but in the short run: What do I recommend as a short cut to perfect sweaters for those knitters who require these mods? Well, I think your best bet is to use this fabulous armscye calculator. Here’s how it can be used: Put in all of the information as written in the pattern except what you’re changing, where you should put the new info. (For example, if you’re enlarging the bicep, put in everything as written except the max stitch count. Substitute your own stitch count there.) The calculator will give you a number of decreases over a number of rows in the “curved” portion of the sleeve cap.

You can then either fudge it, draw it out on knitter’s graph paper, or some combination of the two, to figure out how often to decrease when you’re knitting the cap.

Is it as easy as recalculating waist shaping? No… but it’s not that much harder, either. And isn’t sweater perfection worth it?

FF: “Floppy” upper arms

I don’t really mind my upper arms, but they’re definitely what you’d call… …floppy. I have great shoulders, and I’m super-strong, but when I raise my arm and wave? Well, there’s some motion there, is what I’m saying.

For more summers than I’d like to admit, I sweated it out in elbow-length sleeves and flutter sleeves and anything with fabric to cover this area up. I was totally self-conscious about them from about the time I was 17 onward. And I still don’t like the way I look in a typical short-sleeved shirt.


Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing the matter with how I look and people definitely aren’t going to run away screaming or anything. But I’m uncomfortable, and don’t feel quite as awesome as I’d like to. And if I’ve learned anything from the past five years, it’s to think about why I might not like something.

For me, and short-sleeved shirts, it harkens back to my first rule of visual principles in clothing:

If you want to broaden the appearance of some part of your body, paint a horizontal line over it.

And that’s the key, for me and short sleeves. They draw a line across a part I’m less fond of, broadening and calling attention to it (and often denting in that very soft skin/flesh there, which is doubly noticeable).

Putting that rule together with short sleeves was an “aha!” moment for me. Because it meant that I didn’t have to cover them up anymore. I just needed to draw the eye elsewhere. Like, say, my rocking shoulders.


As you can definitely see from the side, it’s not that my arms are actually any smaller or more toned. But the eye is drawn elsewhere, to parts I’m more fond of. Particularly from the front, I feel like my arms play definite second fiddle to my shoulders, collarbone, and face–all parts I adore.


So there you have it. As the temperatures here in New England climb and we’re all looking for ways to cool off?

Instead of trying to cover up the parts you don’t like, try drawing the eye to those you do love, instead.

Fashion “Friday”: Reunion weekend

Hi all! Fashion Friday got away from me this week, since I’m in my hometown celebrating my 20th high school reunion. (Eep!)

So I thought I’d take this “Friday”‘s post to go through the dress I chose for the occasion (and why)–and show some other dresses that I loved, but discarded because I knew they wouldn’t work for me.

Boden is a go-to place for me when I want something a little nicer and less corporate than my usual work fare, so that’s where I started. I found several dresses I loved that I thought would work for the formality of the event and what I hoped to achieve, style-wise:

boden-dress-5 boden-dress-4 boden-dress-3 boden-dress-1

These would all be lovely dresses for the event, which is “nicer than jeans” but not super-formal. They’re beautiful prints, they’re summery and perfect for my coastal town without being too casual. All of them would be terrible for my figure, though! Here’s why:

  • Structured waists. These dresses look great on curvy-waisted mannequins, but they make my own very straight waist painfully obvious. Painting a horizontal line around my actual waist as a style element just highlights the fact that it’s the same apparent width as my hips and bust. (I say “apparent” because my waist circumference is quite a bit smaller, but when viewed from the front I’m straight as a board.)
  • Cap sleeves or wide tanks. I have thicker upper arms, which is a topic for a future FF, and this makes cap sleeves, short sleeves, and thick tanks a less comfortable choice for me. All of those sleeve lengths paint a line around or draw attention to the upper arms–and make me less comfortable.
  • Higher necklines. I love the look of a higher neckline, but paired with cap sleeves and/or the portrait collar of the tank dress, they’ll push my bust visually down toward my waist.

All in all, any one of these dresses is going to make me look thick around the middle and arms, and like my bust has dropped several inches from my high school days. I love them, and wish I were comfortable wearing them? But I’m not.

So what did I choose?


This dress is pretty much the opposite, visual-feature-wise, than the dresses above.

  • Deep neckline, elbow sleeves. Particularly when combined with the stripe pattern, these elements firmly associate my bust with my head/neck rather than my waist/hips, and the eye is drawn up to my head.
  • Less structure. The knit fabric skims over my straighter waist, rather than focusing attention and structure on it.
  • Faux hourglass. In contrast to the plainer-fabriced dresses above, which highlight someone with a natural hourglass waist, the stripes on this dress create one for me: My shoulders are broadened by the V-stripes on the bodice, and the extra vertical strips starting at the hip broaden my hips and tush, both of which make my waist appear smaller.

I know it’s probably not quite as compelling as actually seeing me in the less-flattering choices, but hopefully hearing my process of deconstructing the visual elements in a garment before I buy it was helpful too!

I’m having a blast at the reunion festivities so far, and can’t wait to share more knitting progress when I get back home, too. Have you been to a reunion in the past few years? How was your shopping process? What did you wind up with, and did you love it?

FF: Beating the heat

The Fashion Friday goal that I struggle hardest to achieve is to make it something different than “Hey, look at this cute outfit!” I think one of the most poisonous aspects of most fashion advice out there is that most of the advice looks something like this:

Just take these three easy steps/hide this thing/be thinner/be curvier/etc. and find effortless beauty!

I hate this. (And I don’t use the word ‘hate’ lightly.) There’s so much wrong with these messages. They imply that (1) there’s something inherently wrong with the way you are, and (2) it’s the only thing standing between you and a perfect appearance.

Bullsh*t. The truth?

  • There’s not a single thing wrong with the way you are, and
  • No figure looks great in everything.

And I don’t mean that in a sit-around-the-campfire-singing-songs kind of way. I mean literally, there is no figure that is flattered by everything. Every single one of us, including both you and that woman you think is “perfect”, can look great or less-so depending on how we frame our figures.

So with a mini-heat-wave in my neck of the woods, and my friend Jackie over for lunch, we decided to do a “beat the heat” FF edition–with awesome and less-great choices for both of us.

This is harder than it looks, not because it’s tough to find clothes that are unflattering on our shapes (it’s not at ALL hard), but because we both tend to be very brutal about eliminating such things from our wardrobes.

So! Here’s me, in two “beat the heat” outfit choices:

ff-heat-4 ff-heat-2

They’re both super temperature-friendly, both very comfortable, and yet one is something I’d never wear, and one is in fact what I’m wearing today. Let’s think about the differences between them.

  • On the left, my skirt length hits me mid-calf, which is not only the widest point of my leg, but is also precisely where my leg gets super-short. (My thighs are on the short side but not tremendously so; I feel like my calves were squished up somehow when I was developing. They’re very wide around and very very short.) Vs. the right, where my skirt ends at my leg’s narrowest point.
  • On the right, the snugger tank top helps differentiate between my bust and my waist–this distinction is lost on the left, where the baggier top makes my bust look smaller and my waist larger.
  • I carry some of my weight in my upper arms; this isn’t super noticeable in the tank because the eye isn’t really drawn to the arm (rather, I’m drawing the attention mostly to my shirt and face). In the tee shirt, however, the lines of the neck and sleeve draw the eye to my arms.

And here’s Jackie, in her two outfit choices:

ff-heat-1 ff-heat-3

You can see the same differential here (perhaps slightly less drastically, because we were at my house and hence had more Amy-options and fewer Jackie-options). More differences:

  • On the left, the wide neckline draws the eye up to Jackie’s broader shoulders and neck, widening them further. On the right, the eye is drawn in a vertical line down the front of the sweater.
  • On the right, the full skirt broadens Jackie’s hips to match her shoulders. On the left, the skirt is slimmer and does not balance her shoulders. Note how this longer length looks fantastic on Jackie, whose long, more slender calves can handle the horizontal line of the skirt.
  • On the left, Jackie’s bust, waist, and hip all look equally wide due to the line of the dress and its allover pattern. On the right, Jackie looks more curvaceous thanks to the hourglass impression given by snugger top and wider skirt. The vertical lines of the tank play up the curve in Jackie’s bust.

I will say that I think the outfit on the right is less Jackie’s typical style than the one on the left. Usually, when I see Jackie on hot days, she’s wearing a great pair of shorts (she looks fantastic in them) and a breezy tank top with a similar shape to Minx, the sweater she’s wearing on the right here. Same visual impression, and a style slightly closer to the tank dress on the left. Oh, for infinite wardrobe choices with these FF posts!

Finally, and most importantly, note how Jackie and I are both lovely women, capable of looking gorgeous and not, depending on our clothing. I really want to emphasize this. The world (sometimes) tells me:

You’re definitely on the athletic-frame-with-padding side, and so to look great you need to slim down.

The world (sometimes) tells Jackie:

Since you’re naturally slim with long legs, you’ll look great no matter what you do.

I’ve got the curly hair and cheeky smile, so I’m going to look great. She’s got a more athletic neck than a swan-like one, so should try to cover it up. These kinds of messages are toxic, pervasive, and I think the only antidote is to step back, and take a reality check.

In reality, what works for each of us is as unique as we are. And there are no flaws to be found.

Fashion Friday: Top-heavy sweaters

I believe our bodies are perfect just as they are. My goal in Fit to Flatter, and Fashion Fridays, and really everything I do, is to help you understand how to choose clothing you love to wear, and wear clothing that makes your body shine.

I was thinking about this as I went through the gray shirt outfits from last week’s post, and then I thought: But wait. How helpful can these posts really be, if you’re only ever seeing my straight, proportional, long-torsoed form? What about other body types?

So I talked to my good friend Jackie, and she agreed to let me use a few of her pictures for this week’s FF. We’ll come back to the gray shirt next week.

Jackie is a broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped (or top-heavy) shape. Of all body shapes, I actually think small-busted, top-heavy shapes can have the toughest time getting sweaters that fit properly. Much of the common internet advice (go negative ease in the bust!) steers them horribly, horribly wrong–a small-busted top heavy shape needs extra room in the shoulders, almost always requiring some positive ease in the bust. So I’ve seen a number of women through my classes with this shape who complain about their sweaters being constricting and uncomfortable.

Being a helpless victim around for a lot of my musings, we’ve figured out some great strategies for Jackie. Here are a few sweaters that fit her well and make the most of her lovely figure.


Snowmates is such a fantastic choice. The super plain top narrows her shoulders and doesn’t distract the eye from the real star of this sweater, the graphic color work on the bottom. That color work, the longer sweater length, and the 3/4 sleeves broaden Jackie’s hips and make her appear perfectly proportional (with a tiny waist, too!).


The same effect (drawing the eye down, narrowing the top) is achieved in the following sweater too, the lovely Metro. The difference here is that the addition of a narrow, deep neckline narrows Jackie’s entire torso. Doesn’t she look great? (Also! Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all of our sweaters made us feel this way?)


Finally, the same lines (again) in my favorite sweater Jackie has knit, a modified version of my New Towne cardigan. Over the original, Jackie added length and shortened the sleeves to create that same narrow-top-and-broader-bottom look.

I love these sweaters for lots of reasons–they’re hand knit, they’re superbly knit, they obviously make Jackie feel great–but even more than those, I love them because they’re a great example of how the lines of the clothing are so much more important than the style. The first sweater is totally mod and bold; the second, a very preppy look (perfect for the country weekend she was enjoying); the third, a more polished version of a kid-friendly day-to-day routine.

CSrhinebeck12-3516 6254640168_22670161e8_b jackie-newtowne

Different styles, same great effect on the figure.

I hope you enjoy seeing someone else’s shape on the blog! (If you’d like to participate in Fashion Fridays, please let me know.) Do you have lines and wardrobe elements you come back to again and again, regardless of “style”?

Fashion Friday: Day off

The silver lining to a grueling, 9-hours-of-sleep-in-two-days kind of business trip is the ability to take Friday off from my day job, and spend a morning puttering around and making my house my own again.

I’ve really been enjoying the day, and am now super-ready for an afternoon with the boys and a dear dear friend, preparing a birthday celebration for the husband. (Who didn’t even give me any grief about me being away on a business trip on his birthday. He’s really quite the guy.)

Weekend plans include a book signing at Hub Mills, lots of seaming and blocking and cuddles and knitting and great company, food, and rest. Oh, and enjoying the gorgeous late-spring weather–this is one of my favorite times of year. And not an airplane to be found.

Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?


I’m starting off the weekend with comfort as pretty much my only guide. Slouchy, lightweight top? Check. Super-comfy jean skirt? Check. Kick-em-on-and-off sandals? Check check check. (Adorable necklace the boys got me for mother’s day? Check.)

I’m not necessarily going for any particular figure-flattery with this outfit, though my love of dolmans on my long-torsoed figure is absolutely present. Instead, I’m letting my figure’s natural shape come through, in a style that makes me feel utterly at home in my skin. Despite this flaunting of “the rules”, it works. I don’t look bombshell, but that matters so much less than my own comfort and confidence.

(But, for those wondering: If my main goal were to narrow my waist, I’d pair this broad-shouldered top with a structured A-line skirt. If I wanted to lengthen my legs, I’d match the shirt with my floor-length-with-heels gray knit maxi skirt and perhaps add a belt worn a bit high on my waist. If I wanted a look a bit more practical for the office, I’d likely group this with very long earrings, a cuff, black boot-cut jeans, and heeled boots.)

Hm. Maybe for next week, we’ll step through these variations? What do you think?

FF: Sleeves (the basics)

(I’m super-excited about the response to make. wear. love. so far. We have only around 10 spots left in the retreat as of this evening, so if you’d like in on this wonderful weekend please let me know soon! I’m really looking forward to summer and wouldn’t wish it away, of course… but now I’m really looking forward to the fall, too.)

This week in Fashion Friday, we’re going to take a quick look at sleeve length and how it changes an outfit. To illustrate the difference between the 4 basic sleeve lengths, I’ve chosen a pretty plain outfit–cardigan, over tank top and jeans. These were all taken seconds apart, with no retouching or tricks or anything.

The basic principle is this: In the average case, the eye will be drawn to the part of the body where the sleeve cuff ends. That part of the body will gain more prominence, visually speaking.

Let’s start with long sleeves first: They draw the eye down, to the legs.


Now, 3/4-length sleeves. They tend to end in-line with the hem of a top, and so paint a visual line around both the arms and the mid-hip.


Elbow sleeves draw the eye to the waist (real or manufactured with clever use of clothing).


Gold star to anyone who can predict where short sleeves draw the eye. (grin)


That’s right! Short sleeves are probably the most visually bust-enhancing thing going on.

There are lots of other things to keep in mind about sleeves, too–but we’ll save that for another week. For this week, just think: Where are your sleeves drawing the eye? Where would you like the eye drawn?

ff-sleeves-basic-1 ff-sleeves-basic-2 ff-sleeves-basic-3 ff-sleeves-basic-4

My personal favorite sleeve length is a tie–I love both 3/4 and elbow-length sleeves, and wear them both frequently. Do you have a favorite?