Ode to the fall sweater

Autumn is on its way, and this season has always been my favourite.

In childhood, it brought the return to school (yes, I was a huge nerd!), the bounty of the fall harvest, and glutting on sugar during Halloween. But, by far, the best part of the season has always been being wrapped in a big, cozy sweater.

As summer’s high temperatures recede, the outdoors becomes a Goldilocks paradise — not too hot and not too cold. Just right for a stroll amidst the turning leaves in a chunky knit.

When looking for that perfect sweater to add to your wardrobe, I always recommend paying extra careful attention to the fabric tag.

Acrylic, polyester and completely synthetic blends may come with a lower price tag, but tend to pill and stretch out quickly. I avoid synthetics unless there is only a minor amount of nylon in the blend to help retain shape and add durability.

Cotton is lightweight and breathable, making it great sweater material for early fall and layering. It can be spun into fine, thin yarn or thick, chunky knits.

When it comes to wool, there are great differences between the types of fibres.

Standard sheep’s wool can be scratchy, prone to pilling and shrinkage, and therefore is often mixed with silk or nylon.

Lambs wool is made from the first shearing of young sheep when they are only month’s old, so it is much finer and softer, and also more expensive.

Merino wool only comes from the special breed of merino sheep whose hair is less course. It has unique temperature-regulating properties so has become a popular fibre to use in activewear and base layers.

Cashmere is considered the Rolls Royce of wool, produced from cashmere goats. While it is softer and finer than traditional wool, it is also stronger and more durable. 

Cared for properly, a fine cashmere or wool-blend sweater can last a lifetime.

Spying through local boutiques and online shops, I’ve noticed that the trend for this fall seems to be sticking with classic shapes and neutral colours. I saw very few ultra-bright or patterned sweaters.

This is a good sign that consumers want to invest in high-quality timeless pieces rather than the gaudy acrylic sweaters of yesteryear, with the exception of the ugly sweater tradition at Christmas.

Some of the most beautiful knits that caught my eye were:

Everything from Everlane.com — This online ethical retailer makes gorgeous sweaters in cotton, wool blends, and classic cashmere pieces for only $100 US. They even make cashmere sweatpants if you want to feel extra-cozy.

Long and lean knits — Many designers have created duster cardigans and vests that skim the knees. These look equally great draped over a casual outfit or belted with a dressy ensemble.

Flared sleeves — For a polished office sweater, check out many of the new styles that feature ballon, blouson and flutter sleeves.

Silhouettes typically done in other fabrics — This fall, designers have embraced creating sweaters in the shapes of other popular top styles such as polos, blazers and hoodies.

Subtle embellishments — Rather than plastering a sweater with tacky decorations, this season’s knits feature simple adornments such as pearl buttons or ribbon side ties.

The new neutrals — Move over black. The most popular sweater colours tend to be much lighter than in previous years. Camel, cream, heather grey and blush pink are everywhere and go with everything. 

With a luscious new knit, I hope you enjoy sweater weather as much as I do.


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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