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The Fashion Memo

Why a new-era knitted dress is the perfect piece for now

Despite knitwear’s cozy connotations, a thoughtfully designed dress in wool or mohair can hold its own after dark, too, says FEDORA ABU

Emili Sindlev (purple, black and white striped dress), Pooja Mor (black dress), Diletta Bonaiuti (beige dress) and Molly Chiang

Although knitted dresses possibly used to be among the more underrated items in our closets, a whole new generation is now making a play for our attention. Combining the feminine polish of a frock with the snug coziness of a sweater, these pieces can be dressed down or dialed up – and require little to no effort with layering.

Traditionally, knitwear might not be the first port of call for an evening affair, but a series of experimental cuts and unexpected details have encouraged us to reconsider. This season, Australian designer Christopher Esber has crafted a midriff-baring maxi dress with a thigh-high side slit that wouldn’t look out of a place at a rooftop party. In a silk or satin, this piece would veer into the overtly glamorous, but the blend of wool and cashmere – along with the muted army green – lends it an instant ease. Likewise, Simon Porte Jacquemus has parlayed his signature sex appeal into a figure-hugging, off-the-shoulder mini, refashioning mohair as a most alluring fabric.

The new-era knit dress can be surprisingly elegant, too. Take, for example, Nanushka’s ‘Noa’ – a minimal camel midi that’s cut for a close fit and can be worn sleeveless on balmier nights, then teamed with the accompanying shrug (which creates a cut-out effect) as it gets cooler. And, if you still needed convincing, look no further than Gabriela Hearst’s sleeveless Meier dress – a ribbed ivory number with a floaty hem that perfectly encapsulates the designer’s brand of New York sophistication – and pairs especially well with a squashy Bottega Veneta bag.

To make the most of the knitted dress’s casual glamour, though, it’s best to keep all other elements relatively spare. For summer, try teaming yours with fine gold accents and an understated sandal. Then, as the winter months draw near, channel Italian stylist Diletta Bonaiuti and add a statement-making knee-high boot. Who knew knits had a hidden edge?


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