On a recent episode of the Love To Sew podcast, Caroline from Blackbird Fabrics mentioned that she sometimes feels underdressed or frumpy when she wears all-knit outfits. All-knit outfits are my fashion comfort zone, so that got me thinking: What makes an outfit “secret pyjamas”, and not just pyjamas?
I’ve got a few ideas, and I hope you’ll contribute your own in the comments! I’m specifically thinking about cold-weather outfits, because it’s easy enough to throw on a knit dress in summer and be stylish, but layering is more of a challenge.
1. A Mix of Textures
I think this might be the most important strategy, and it’s one I’ve been working on incorporating this year. If I’m wearing a polyester ITY dress, I wear rayon leggings; if I’m wearing a textured knit like the far right dress, then I can get away with ITY leggings. I also have a few pairs of leggings in sweater knit that add a cosy look. I wouldn’t, for example, wear a rayon dress with rayon leggings and a rayon cardigan, because then the drape and movement is the same for every item. I like to mix it up!
I also look specifically for fabrics with texture, like the slubbed ITY the far left wrap dress is made from, rib knits, crepe knits, and so on. Texture often means the fabric has a matte finish, and I think that is generally more flattering and elegant!
2. Adding Accessories
Another way to add texture is with accessories! I like bright colours or shiny metals that add a reflective contrast colour to my outfit. Whether subtle or bold, I think jewellery says “I’m dressed for the day” instead of “I haven’t showered yet”!
As you can tell from all my outfit photos, I also love scarves, cardigans, hats, earrings and bracelets! A more adventurous dresser could shake it up with shoes and coats, but I tend to be pretty basic there.
3. Highlight A Feature
To me, baggy shirt and baggy pants reads as loungewear. But if at least one body part is highlighted or defined, then it reads more as clothes! I enjoy a lower neckline in summer, but in winter I usually show off my legs or waist. This is personal preference though – you might like the oversized look, or prefer slim tailoring everywhere!
4. Use a Stable Knit
When in doubt, a stable knit is your friend! A ponte, double knit, scuba or Liverpool crepe knit gives some structure to the garment, and usually some texture as well. I even like jegging fabric for this purpose – it’s stretchy but stable enough that it gives a smoother look than just a normal jersey!
5. Use a “Fancy” Knit
One of the reasons I almost never sew cotton knits is that they get fuzzy fast and look very casual to me. On the other hand, a knit lace, velvet, or metallic is comfortable but looks fancy! All three of the dresses above are made with my everyday TNT patterns combined with a special fabric to make a party-worthy outfit!
6. Mix In a Stretch Woven
Just because I love knits doesn’t mean wovens are bad – they have their place! I wear stretch jeans on any day I’m not wearing a dress and leggings, and I find them equally comfortable. I’ve got a few jackets in stretch denim and twill, and they are great too.
Of course, if you love the feel of a woven, shine on and wear what you love. Ditto if you want to embrace wearing pyjamas or home clothes, and you don’t care about dressing up. Personally, non-stretch bottoms give me indigestion and restrictive tops give me a tension headache, so I love my stretchy wardrobe for work and play!
Do you wear a lot of knits? What are your strategies when you want to look pulled-together and chic in your secret pyjamas?