summer knits for the endowed

Thanks for the comments, everyone! (And boy, some of the summer weather reports from y'all are making me very grateful to live in the cool and rainy Pacific NW!)

I think I need to fold this conversation into another, larger one around Knitting for the Endowed... because the warmer weather presents interesting challenges for those of us with girls to support. Spaghetti straps? Halter tops? or (dare I say it) strapless tops and dresses? Forgeddabouddit.

When the temperature climbs, our inclination to wear things that cover and support just plummets, but if you've got a Marilyn Monroe-esque figure, there are a lot of things that just plain don't work: 

  • tiny straps of any kind (ever gone overboard at a farmer's market and put too much produce in a string carrier bag? just sayin'.
  • breezy, diaphanous tops (they always cling to the wrong places. But only always.)
  • short shorts are just mean for anyone who weighs over 100 lbs, or anyone over the age of 19.
  • even skirt silhouettes can be challenging, because you need something to balance out the top half without making your bottom half look big. 

Sartorial challenges abound ... good thing those drinks with the umbrellas in 'em are there to take the edge off!

But it can't just be all about what we *can't* wear: I want to hear about what works! And what we can knit to make our fabulous fashion statements between spring and fall.

Let's start by talking about sleeves, shall we?


Okay, so if the string-bag look is right out, and halter tops are going to send you straight to the chiropractor, what sleeve styles really work on the busty? 

The trick is to balance out the bust, either by drawing the eye up and away, or by making sure that you avoid drawing a horizontal line straight across your widest parts.

A good tank top is always nice, but we like to make sure to strike a balance between straps that are not too skinny:

"Army of Knitters: Erquy"

… and shoulders that are so wide they make your top half look like one big square: 

"Kollage Yarns: Jenny Trio"

Same goes for short sleeves, alas… Because if you're wide across the bust, the last thing you need to do is extend the width of that line across your arms!

"Dovetail Designs: Summer Top"Please understand me: these are all fabulous designs, by amazing designers. It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with any of these shapes – but there are bad combinations of bodies put into those shapes! If we want to flatter the bodies we have, we need to understand how to enhance our assets and balance our silhouettes.

So what does work?

1. A great, curved armhole that leaves a wide-enough shoulder detail. Wide enough to cover the bra strap, and wide enough to visually balance out the weight of the rackage:

"Hemp for Knitting: Kathy's Knot Garden Tank"[I am SO knitting this.]

And because you're knitting it yourself, you can make *@^# sure that that lovely under-bust detail actually sits under your actual bust… instead of where some designer thinks your bust should still be.

2. Cap sleeves!
You might say: "But Karen - I thought we were supposed to not add width to the upper carriage?!?" True, but the cool thing about the diagonal line of a cap sleeve is that it makes your shoulders look larger than your bust, by default making the bust look smaller.

"Gardiner Yarn Works: Valencia"[I am SO knitting this one, too. And I would, even had it not been designed by my wonderful friend and colleague, Chrissy Gardiner. She's done the knitting world a favor by grading this pattern for a large range of sizes, so all of us gals can look fab in this top!]

3. Three-quarter sleeves!
For the same reason that the short sleeves don't work on us, a three-quarter-sleeve will. If there' s a "no-fly zone" for sleeves to end through the bust, you have to make them shorter or longer… and perhaps a safe place to let them land is in your waist zone. (Provided you're wearing something that shows off your waist, or gives you the illusion of one.)

"Glenna C: Royale"

And, if you're not particularly hippy (or hourglassy), long sleeves are fair game, too … especially if you have narrow hips and a larger bust. The long sleeves can add balance to the bottom of your figure in a very good way:

"Louet: Alex Anne"

As Tim Gunn would say, it's all about "Silhouette, Proportion, and Fit!"

And remember: if you find yourself with the opposite problem, and want to enhance your bustline, just flip all this around! Go for those short sleeves, spaghetti straps, and straighter armholes, and you'll be looking busty in no time!

Thanks to Patternfish for all the great images and links. Their browsable and searchable fleet of nearly 6,000 patterns means you can flip through and find just what you're looking for.

I'll post tomorrow with the results of what I've found there to knit for (next) summer's knitwear.