Knitwear is a general term for wardrobe items made from knitted yarns that stretch when worn. Examples of popular knitwear include fashion leggings, sweater-knit cardigans and jersey-knit dresses. Knit is known for its colorful history and versatility, so it's no wonder that style mavens are calling it the new look for fall.
Knitwear made its debut in popular fashion when iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel introduced her striped cashmere knitwear collection in the early 20th century. From then on, runways of every decade have sported some type of knitwear.
Form-fitting sweaters were popular in the '40s, while the '60s brought the creations of well-known knitwear designers Tai Missoni and Sonia Rykiel. With Missoni's and Rykiel's help, knitwear evolved past a sportswear-only image and entered all lines of clothing, including athletic wear, formal wear, career wear, and even lingerie and accessories.
Popular fashion knits include jersey, Ponte and sweater knits. Jersey is a lightweight knit and stretches about 25 percent. It's usually made from cotton or a synthetic blend, and you'll see jersey knit used in casual wear like T-shirts. Matte jersey is usually a polyester blend and is popular in career wear because it retains its color, travels well and is wrinkle-resistant.
Ponte knits are a type of double-knit fabric, usually made from a blend of polyester, rayon and elastane (aka Spandex). Considered a stable knit because of their minimal stretching capacity, Ponte knits have excellent shape retention and a flattering drape.
Sweater knits are usually made from wool, cashmere or cotton. Their thicker yarns make them ideal for cooler weather.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of knitwear is its comfort factor. Loungewear and lingerie are often made of knits because they are soft and feel good next to the skin.
Because jersey or Ponte knitwear is also wrinkle-resistant, it's often the choice for frequent travelers. Its easy drape ensures an instant pulled-together look when time matters the most.
Because it made its debut in sportswear, people often consider knitwear to be more casual. However, keep in mind that progress in the textile industry took knitwear to a completely new level. To make sure your knitwear is office-worthy, look for polyester blends that will help it retain its color and shape. Thicker knits ensure your knitwear is substantial enough for a professional look with a flattering drape.
According to knittingbrain.com, knitwear requires special care to protect it from the well-known moth and lesser-known carpet beetles. Always wash your knitwear before storing. Use cold water and a gentle fabric wash to hand-wash knitwear, or use your washing machine if it has a cycle specifically designated for knits.
You can toss your casual knits in the dryer on the low setting, but lay career knitwear flat to dry. Because hangers can distort the shape of knitwear, fold your knitwear when not wearing it or when putting it away for storage. Consider using plastic boxes and bags to keep moths and carpet beetles away.
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