Ease. We throw this term around quite a bit. We know it
means the amount of extra space between you and your sweater—or the lack
thereof. We talk about fit and flattering your shape and on and on, but ease is
more than just a matter of practical preference. Ease affects style.
Look at the Williamsburg Cardigan from the Fall issue of
Interweave Knits. The sample garment measures 42.5” at the bust, modeled on a woman
with a 34” actual bust. That makes for 8.5” of positive ease. The look is
dramatic, oversized—but so elegant, so Katharine Hepburn in its long square
silhouette hanging from the shoulder. The nod to menswear, via toggle buttons
and a left-front buttonhole band (conventional in men’s clothing), is really accentuated
by the generous ease.
This design illustrates the point I’m slowly getting to—body-conscious
fit may be figure-flattering, but it does not always adhere to one’s sense of
style. We can cram dressing rules down your throat, al a Stacey and Clinton,
but what about individuality? If you want drape and drama, go for lots of ease.
In the opposite direction, negative ease can work stylistically for plus sizes, too. I am working on the Olivier Pullover from Interweave Knits Weekend—with quite a few mods—but I am loving the super-elastic body ribbing. I would never have considered working a cropped hemline with a 7” + deep ribbed band. I have no waist, what am I thinking? But the dramatic blousing of the top of the sweater, in contrast to that ribbing, really is flattering on me.
And the ribbing is generous enough, in its lateral stretch, that it doesn’t
buckle at the side seams or look strained. It just hugs in. But more than
anything, this sweater has style. The vintage form, worked here in a chunky
yarn, fits my dressy but androgynous approach to dressing. It is feminine, but not girly. It fits me, and
it fits me.
Think about ease when choosing a size, but also think about
ease as part of design. What does the fit of your sweater say about you?