Be fashion forward in a smart spring knit

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Be fashion forward in a smart spring knit

  • Shane Watson shares advice on how to style and wear knitwear for spring
  • UK-based fashion expert says sleeveless sweaters add a layer of Annie Hall-style
  • She says that there’s always room for a long-sleeved sweater in a sorbet shade

For those of us who are interested in fashion, but not the silly stuff — you won’t be reading about the tiny bag that’s too small to fit a phone here — there are certain fashion terms that arouse suspicions. 

A sleeveless coat is one. Carrotshaped trousers another, and one which is cropping up a lot at the moment — spring knits. 

What’s the problem with spring knits? Maybe it’s the fact they sound slightly pointless. It may also be the suggestion of Easter bonnet pastels, prim cardigans, short sleeves — none of which sounds appealing. But perhaps we should give spring knits a chance. 

Kendall Jenner (pictured) in a crop knit top in New York. Shane Watson says that she recommends the sleeveless sweater or tank

First of all, we live in a country where even when the weather warms up you’ll usually need more than shirtsleeves under a jacket. For this reason, I heartily recommend (not for the first time) the sleeveless sweater or tank because they are so useful and will stay useful into the winter. 

If you haven’t already got a couple, I’m betting that’s because you think they’ll make you look fat. They won’t, and if you’re big on top just get one with a deep V, like Cos’s long line crochet knit V-neck (£69, cosstores.com). 

Jade Thirlwall (pictured) in London opting for a knitted vest paired with large blue shirt. Shane describes this look as perfect for summer cocktails

In fact, a loose sleeveless sweater can be extremely flattering, and if you have toned arms they’ll look elegant peeking out of the capped shoulders of a deep V-neck cashmere vest (£125, cosstores.com). That plus swooshy wide-leg trousers is your early summer cocktails look sorted.

Sleeveless sweaters add a layer of Annie Hall-style preppy insouciance, especially in cricket-whites cream (£59, crewclothing.co. uk); and a striped tank (£16, weekday.com) under a trouser suit jacket makes it feel more youthful. I like to wear a navy cotton V-neck tank (£125, meandem.com) with a crisp blue Nrby shirt to smarten up dark jeans, and a plain coloured tank warms up a summer dress while giving it a 2022 upgrade (£55, arket.com). 

The second category of spring knit is the 1970s shortsleeved top, which also looks a lot like something a land girl would have worn on a special Sunday out (pretty but also plain). I bought one last year in textured navy and white with three – quarter pouf sleeves from Me+Em and wore it more than anything else. The new version comes in an orange and cream stripe or a cream chevron stitch (£125 and £135, menandem.com). 

I’ll wear the stripe for work with high-waisted navy trousers, under a trouser suit, with a denim midi skirt or khaki trousers. 

I’ll wear it in the evening, too, with silky trousers, maybe in a blue and white print. For me, the volume in the sleeve, and the extra length, makes it much more flattering than a regular short-sleeved knit, but if your arms can take it, there are some smart T-shirt styles around, including Cos’s Breton-inspired stripe (£39). 

KNITS: THE 2022 RULES

  • Look for texture and contrasting trims   
  • Pouf sleeves flatter more than plain 
  • Wear a bright knit to break up all white 
  • Clash a striped knit with a print

This one has a block navy top, a beige collar and a band of navy on cream stripes that finishes just below the ribs and looks chic enough to wear with a Chanel suit. 

Almost as useful is the new clash cardigan. An old print dress looks instantly modern if you throw another print into the mix, and the easiest way to do that is with a bright striped cardigan. 

New Look’s candy pink and scarlet style (£19.99, newlook. com) is not only a nod to the hot colour combination of the season, but a nifty way of refreshing all kinds of prints. To clash successfully, you just want to match the tone and boldly go for it. 

Finally, there’s always room in your wardrobe for a simple long-sleeved sweater in a sorbet shade that you can sling around your neck for a bolt of colour. (If the prospect of wearing all white or cream seems daunting, this is your safety-net item.) 

Cos has a yellow or green cashmere crew neck (£135), Marks & Spencer’s ice pink crew neck will nicely set off reds or blues (£19.50, marksandspencer.com) and Nrby’s roomy coral sweater (£99, nrbyclothing.com) hits the spot.

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