Wear Your Knits: the Rule of Thirds

In a couple of recent posts (here and here) I shared examples of how I create outfits with my handknit garments. In this post I want to share a tip I often use when putting together outfits with handknits: the rule of thirds. This rule of thumb is based in a concept called the golden ratio.

The golden ratio, is a concept that is used frequently in art, architecture, design, and photography. Here is an illustration, using what is known as a golden rectangle. The golden ratio occurs when the ratio of side a to side b equals the ratio of the total length a+b to side a. (In case you’re interested, the golden ratio is also closely related to the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, which converges toward the golden ratio.)

Numerically, the ratio is equal to approximately 1.618. So proportions of 1/3 to 2/3 are close to this ideal ratio, but so are proportions of 2/5 to 3/5. This means you can also break an outfit into fifths (even though we call it the rule of thirds). Any proportion that is near the golden ratio will appear harmonious to the eye, and the asymmetry creates more movement for the eye than an outfit that is divided in halves.

Using the Rule of Thirds in Outfits

Here is an example of how I use the rule of thirds in my outfits, using the Suora tee. The top is about 1/3 the total length, and the pants about 2/3.

The rule of thirds doesn’t have to apply to every garment in an outfit. If I were to add a cardigan or jacket to this outfit, which I frequently do on cooler mornings, it could be longer than the top and your eye would still register the underlying top-to-pants proportion. You can play with this proportion by tucking in your top, or wearing a cropped sweater over a longer layer underneath. If you’d like to see some other outfit examples, check out this post.

I also use the rule of thirds in designing garments. Below is a photo of my Campus Cardigan sample. As the arrows show, the length of the lower dark gray section of the body is approximately 2/3 the length of the upper medium gray section, or 2/5 of the overall length. The sleeves are the reverse – the dark gray section is approximately 2/3 the length of the sleeve. (The medium gray section is the same length as the medium gray section from the armhole to the top of the stripe on the body, so that the stripes line up when the sweater is worn. But I digress.)

The rule of thirds applied to sweater design. The lower dark gray section of the sweater body is approximately 2/3 the length of the upper medium gray section.

It goes without saying there are no hard and fast rules. Wear whatever looks good to you. But if your knits are stuck in your closet because you can’t figure out how to pair them up with your other garments, the rule of thirds can be a handy trick to help you create outfits you’ll be confident wearing.


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Wear Your Knits – the Suora Tee

This is the second post in my series on how I style my handknit garments. In the first post I wrote about styling my Composure Cardigan. Today, I’ll show you how I wear my Suora tee.

Suora is knit in 100% linen yarn, and makes a versatile T-shirt type wardrobe piece. It can also be worn with a variety of ease, depending on your preference. In the photos I am wearing the sample size (98 cm / 39 inches), which is about 4 inches of ease in my upper chest and 0 inches of ease in the full bust. One of these days I plan to knit myself a larger version to wear more oversized.

How I Wear the Suora Tee

My favorite way to wear Suora is with wide-leg linen or linen-blend pants.

Another favorite outfit is Suora with a midi-length skirt.

Choosing Colors

If you’ve been following this series you may have noticed that I have a lot of denim and chambray in my wardrobe. They make a perfect neutral to wear with many different pieces. I tend to prefer wearing neutrals with a single piece in a bright or rich color or print. One trick I use is to keep a pretty consistent color palette, so that I can easily mix and match pieces. I have just a few pieces in other statement colors to make it interesting.

Stay tuned next week for some tips on how to put together an outfit using your handknits. I hope to continue adding to this series in the future. In the meantime, I’ve started a Pinterest board with handknit outfit ideas.

Purchase Suora Pattern


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Wear Your Handknits: The Composure Cardigan

A friend recently suggested I do a post on how I style my knits. Since I talk a lot about designing and making projects that really fit into your wardrobe, I thought such a post was was long overdue!

We’ve had a lot of back and forth this spring between warm and cool weather, and open cardigans like the Composure Cardigan are a go-to layer for me when it turns chilly again. It’s perfect as a casual layer with jeans and a tee or buttondown:

I also like to wear it over a dress, for a bit more elegance. I throw on a cowl if it’s particularly chilly or windy in the morning, which I can easily remove as the day warms up.

Buy the Pattern

I’m already planning another post on styling warmer-weather knits. What patterns would you like to see me wear?


Would you like to be the first to hear about new patterns and updates? Subscribe to my Monthly Musings newsletter below. As a subscriber, you’ll also receive my free Diagonal Rib Cowl pattern.