AW21 trend: 9 Cosy-chic ways to wear knits for local weather

AW21 trend: 9 Cosy-chic ways to wear knits for local weather

Comfort first

Text: Kelly Lim

Image: Jacquemus
Image: Instagram via @dualipa,

Image: Getty Images

The Malaysian climate will never be an ideal stomping ground to go all-out in winter fashion, but that shouldn't stop you from dressing up in knits

Knitwear. Not exactly groundbreaking for the fall season but thanks to its soft and casual wearability, knits have been a key wardrobe component for the past year or so. If the AW21 runaways have shown anything, it’s that the trend can be comfortable, chic and elegant all at the same time. Designers from Fendi and The Row to Proenza Schouler showcased head-to-toe, tight-knit types in the form of feminine dresses and matching separates, while ponchos, capes and shawls made a return in myriad ways at the likes of Missoni, Gabriela Hearst and Chloé. In addition to that, a handful of the season’s sharpest silhouettes, including polo dresses and off-the-shoulder tops to cropped vests and wide-leg trousers, have arrived in scrumptiously soft knits that feel like your cosiest loungewear. Colour palettes range from soft tonal shades to bold bright pops, and craftwork techniques presented new patterns, fringing, embellishments and beautiful appliqués that will feel like you’re wearing a piece of art.

But onto the burning question: How do we get behind this timeless trend beyond our adorable sweater-and-shorts combos and in ways that will fold seamlessly into our tropical weather wardrobes? From slinky, stretchy second-skin types to lightweight, colourful co-ords, scroll on to find out:

Consider your fit and fabric

First things first, avoid heavyweight garments that come in 100 per cent wool or cashmere and look for crochet, open-knit handiwork or lightweight blends with cotton or linen that are cooler and more breathable. If you are going for a warmer material: the looser, the better. Opt for lighter shades, shorter styles and garments that are loose around both the body and arms for some much-needed breathing space or offset chunkier pieces with summer attire in thin, cooling fabrics like silk, linen or cotton.

Set it up

The next step to elevating your knitwear game is also the most effortless, by way of co-ordinated sets that are the ultimate WFH, loungewear update––perfect for pairing with a cup of hot coffee during lazy mornings and ditching our pyjamas for special Zoom occasions. If you’ve grown comfy living in sweaters and shorts, matching knitted separates are the next best thing that don’t require a second thought. And when you do want to put in a bit more effort, they're flexible enough to mix and match however you want. Go for a slim-fitted cardi and trousers set with platform slides the next time you make a grocery run or a streamlined skirt set in midi, maxi or mini styles.

Throw on a cardigan

The ultimate companion for rainy days, trips to the mall (and cinema back in pre-pandemic times) and any other AC-filled environment, the humble cardigan is the easiest way to work knitwear into local weather outfits. Once described as frumpy, granny fashion, the popular layering staple comes reincarnated in a multitude of fresh, stylish, and even sexy, styles: thin ribbed designs fold easily into minimalist wardrobes, while cropped or hourglass renditions have been a go-to garment of It-girls and influencers across social media. Then there are also floral embroidered versions à la Gucci, those with lace collars or puff sleeves… you get the gist. Add a pop of colour or print by layering a bold knitted cover-up over your everyday get-up or go sans base layer as they did in the ‘90s.

Go sleeveless

Thanks to their unfussy silhouettes and styling potentials, there’s no better way to get behind knitwear than a stylish sleeveless knit. In addition to being a great foundational garment, the covetable style comes in a whole range of versions in various colours, knitwear techniques and necklines to suit every kind of personal style. Whether you prefer 2021’s standout sweater vest, a ribbed tank or Loulou studio’s ultra-comfy bustier, these polished babies can be worn alone, over a basic tee or layered under a light jacket.

READ: The A-Z of sweater vests

Cool it out with cutouts

Another way to wear knits in warmer weather is to do so in the manner of peekaboo fashion. Not only does the slasher style liven up sweater weather, but cutouts give our body the extra aeration we'll need, especially when wearing bulkier fabrics under the sun. It’s the perfect look to embrace when transitioning from the hot outdoors to AC-filled rooms and works well whether you’re dressing for date night or the office (particularly via Zoom). Think elbow notches, keyhole tops, cold-shoulder turtlenecks and knitted hip-baring dresses––the devil is in the (cutout) detail.

READ: How to wear cut-outs––the skin-revealing trend daring us to celebrate our bodies

Bottoms up

Alternatively,  you could also go about knit dressing by upgrading the outfit denominator: the bottoms. Arriving in the form of snug shorts, flared, wide-leg trousers and skirts of every length, soft-knitted bottoms are stretchy, refined staples that are basically like fancy sweatpants. Bid stiff wedgies goodbye, it's time to live out our best cosiest lives. 

Think second-skin

Take some cues from the stretchy, delicate wardrobes of spring 2021’s knits and opt for second-skin garments that stay close to the body in the form of bodysuits (also a major AW21 trend) and sheer mesh styles. Think clingy knits in light, ultra-fine renditions that include slinky minis and ribbed renditions––easy to wear and body-hugging-ly comfortable.

Duvet down

Wearable blankets were all the rage on the AW21 catwalks and who can blame them? We’ve grown accustomed to staying at home and a huge part of that involves the comfort and cosiness of our beds. In the context of cold-weather dressing, cloaks and ponchos can keep our bodies warm in the way that they trap a warm cocoon of air around you––provided that you don’t use your arms. The second you move as you please, you’ll expose yourself to the cold, which is why they’re perfect for transitional dressing and even our local context. Cool and carefree in the right material, the non-classic outerwear is a versatile option that provides the right level of freedom while still feeling cosy, and can be easily thrown on or off whenever you need to. Belt it up for a more fitted look, layer it atop a cute mini dress or slip them over streamlined bottoms––think shorts and a lot of leg, or sleek, tailored trousers.

Accessorise your way in 

If all else fails, accessories have our backs. From terry bucket hats and tie-dye beanies to joy-inducing socks and statement headbands, adding a touch of knit to your outfits is as easy as ABC. Better yet, opt for a chunky knitted tote to accompany you in your outings. 

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