I have been obsessed with Lagerfeld’s re-invention of the polo shirt ever since I saw this green beauty in the Chanel Ready to Wear Spring/Summer fashion show for 2014/2015. You may recall that the theme of that show was a fashion strike:
This “manif”, as they call a strike in France, featured not only picketing models with humorous signs, but a rebellious version of the polo shirt, elevating that stodgy garment to flamboyant color art! The skill with which Lagerfeld contrasts his colors and the textual interest added by the novelty yarns in the sleeves and collar obsessed me until I had to create my own interpretation of a knitted polo.
To knit my polo shirt, I used Jennie Atkinson's Antibes pattern as my base:
I have always loved the color of pale apricot and so I used this Zen Garden Serenity Silk in alabaster as my base.
The yarn is light fingering, made of 75% merino, 15% cashmere and 10% silk, so it is soft as a feather against the skin. I knitted it on size 2 needles, so the polo shirt took me about three months to complete.
For the striped sleeves in novelty yarn, I used Noro Silk Garden color 84, Rowan Frost, and a variety of colors of the discontinued ribbon yarn, Tapestry, by Trendsetter. The ribbon yarn has a gold halo of long frizzy strands, adding that touch of crazy that tied all the stripes together:
Here is what the Trendsetter Tapestry yarn looks like when it is used solo to create a garment:
So, as you see, I had to use it judiciously! I only ever knitted two to four rows in the tapestry yarn and enclosed it on both sides with firm wool-based yarns such as the Noro silk garden or Rowan frost, in moss stitch. But there is still a ton of gold frizz that sticks out and creates an uneven look which I thought conveyed the "rebellious" energy of the fashion strike polo.
The buttons in Lagerfeld’s polos are oversized and made of glass, which creates a lot of issues when trying to knit a polo with a simple closure. I agonized a bit over my buttons and looked at some antique Czeck glass, but luckily I had a fabulous lot of amber glass buttons in my stash, which I had purchased from Linda at Unbuttons—more about her fabulous vintage buttons in an upcoming post. So I was able to use those and I'm very happy with them:
In my opinion, the oversized buttons are one of the key details that gives the Lagerfeld polo its revolutionary feel. Because the large buttons and the striped sleeves were so bold, I decided not to knit a big collar in novelty yarn. I felt it would just be too much, and the polo would be wearing me instead of the other way around. Whenever I am creating fashion-inspired garments I have to keep reminding myself that I am eight to ten inches shorter and many pounds heavier than the models who wear couture. As beautiful as couture models are, their bodies are not the norm, and by virtue of their incredible height and thinness they can carry off outrageous shapes and elements that might overwhelm the rest of us.
Speaking of extra poundage… I recently had to take a medication that led to a very sudden ten pound weight gain so I’m trying to come to terms with my extra “fluffiness” at the moment. Therefore I kept putting off photographing my polo shirt for weeks until I decided on the compromise of a hanger photo for now. Either I’ll get used to this new look or I’ll lose the weight through a new nutrition and fitness program but I promise photos of me wearing my knits soon…Anyway, here it is, my finished polo:
I am lucky enough to have an amazing mother-in-law who sewed me a gorgeous pencil skirt last year with some woven woolen fabric I purchased at Britex. What a fabulous gift! And as it turns out, the skirt matches my new polo perfectly:
Just the thought of this wonderful outfit waiting for me has me resolved to workout and drink a protein shake for lunch so that I can wear them soon. In the meantime, I have another project on my needles now inspired by Chanel’s latest cruise collection in Korea, so stay tuned for more…