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I’ve decided to write about some bits and pieces to do with clothing, seeing as this is my first love and still holds a place in my dreams for the future. There were a few ideas that I had written down a year or so ago, one of them was to discuss what makes for a good fit in a good knit. After seeing some spectacles along the main street today, I thought it best to address this idea before the others.

What i mean by a knit is a garment made from fabric with threads that are looped together in a way that allows the fabric to stretch, usually allowing one to put on the garment with no closures necessary. As opposed to woven fabric which does not stretch and such garments require a zip, buttons or something of the like as a closure.

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First things first – don’t let the size tag rule your decision! That you can squeeze in to a size 4/6/8/etc. doesn’t mean a thing if what you are wearing is unflattering and does not sit right. As we all know, sizes and fit varies from store to store so let’s take a look at some of the real deciding factors involved.

What you want to look at for starters is the care label. Each garment that is sold under a registered business or label must have one of these by law (unless of course the garment is custom made). There are two possible placements for the care label: either approximately 10cm up on the left side seam inside the garment, or is at the top center-back along with the sizing tag. This has a few very useful things on it.

First of all it has the composition – what the fabric is made up of. What I usually look for is natural fibers – cotton, wool, rayon/viscose, merino, bamboo, silk, etc. They are softer on the skin, let your skin breathe, and have more effective insulative properties due to the porous nature of natural fibers. Some blends with small amounts of polyester or acrylic can be ok – poly/cotton is a very common mix – however synthetic fibers do tend to be more susceptible to holding smells and odours more prominently, and for longer, which is not desirable. Synthetic fibers can also make you sweat more as they don’t have breathability or a porous nature like natural fibers do. So, always try to look for a high natural fiber content, if not 100%.

-Note: If you are looking at chain stores, do not be deceived when going into stores with names like ‘Cotton On’. You may find the composition of their winter knits and cardigans are mostly acrylic. Also, check the label of those advertised merino knits and thermal wear – they are not always 100%. You have been warned!

Secondly, the care label states the shrinkage that this garment will have once you wash it. Usually it’s around 5%. When you find the right size in store that you try on, I would always encourage going up a size (e.g. if a size 10 fits you when trying it on in the store, buy a size 12), if it’s a 5 – 10% shrinkage rate. If the shrinkage rate is more than 10% – which is quite uncommon – I recommend either solely dry-cleaning your garment, or alternatively you may consider going up a couple of sizes. I find garments with a higher shrinkage rate can warp and become unflattering very quickly so I would be wary of any you may come across that have a higher shrinkage rate.

Third, the care label of course has care instructions for your garment. I will confess I do not always religiously follow these myself, but this part of the care label gives you specific instructions on how best to care for your garment. You will find many with the same basic instructions: Warm machine wash… Do not tumble dry… Cool press with iron…  If your wardrobe has any garments that need to be hand washed, go out and invest in a laundry bag. They cost next to nothing and you will see your delicate items in your wardrobe thanking you for it. Not to mention far less trouble with being able to put them through a machine wash once put in these laundry bags.

Now there are a few things to look for when checking that the size is right for you. Check for bunches – there should be little to none and the garment should sit relatively loose around your body – including the largest part, and for most of us, that’s the hips. In no way should a knit feel restrictive, so this should sit nicely over your hips without too much tension or stretch, and/or your bust if you’re a little bustier than the average woman. Ensure it won’t ride up after walking and moving around a while – you don’t want to always pulling down your tops/dresses/what have you.

Most items tend to shrink ^up^ as well as >in< so make sure you’re happy with the finished length of the garment, and be prepared for it to end up a couple of centimeters shorter after a good wash.

There are sometimes ideal measurements given on size labels as well which can be helpful. If you are not familiar with using a tape measure I recommend getting someone to help you take the measurements. Your bust measurement is taken at the widest part of your chest area. Your waist is the smallest part of your torso and should be approximately around where your belly button is, if not a little higher. Lastly, your hip measurement should be taken approximately 20cm down from where your waist measurement is taken and will be a measurement of the widest part of your hip area. Of course we are not all the same proportions so not all measurements may fall into one standard size. In this case I recommend if you are at all in doubt, go for the larger size that your measurements fall under. As they say, hopefully ‘it’ll all come out in the wash’ shrinkage wise and you’ll find the fit more pleasing.

That’s all I have for now, so good luck and happy shopping!

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