My summer of crochet obsession started when my friend Jo shared a photo of a Lilliez crochet tank on her Instagram. I was in awe of the detailing in Lilliez designer Halima’s work, especially that of her fruit embroidered tanks. Because I visit her Instagram account so often to see what she was selling off her page, I started getting targeted ads, and my Instagram feed became one crochet brand after the next.
I love handmade crochet because, like the upcycling brands we featured last week, it can be knitted to your specific measurements, with each stitch made specifically for you, especially when you’re shopping small and get the pleasure to discuss your piece with the artist themself. I also find that crochet is extremely versatile, looking good with the same outfits you’d wear with any of your basics. When I swap a plain white tee out for a crochet one, my outfit is instantly elevated. Or, instead of wearing my usual athletic shorts, wearing a pair of crochet ones instead looks far more thoughtful. And throwing on a crochet dress is one of the greatest easy summer dressing styling hacks there is. Because of the intricacy of the craftsmanship, crochet makes you look well-dressed because, well, you are!
I asked aforementioned Lilliez designer Halima Mbwana and crochet fan Sydney Ziems, owner and designer of jewelry and accessories brand Serendipitous Project, to help me showcase three different crochet items with suggestions on how to wear them, illustrated below!
Crochet Shorts with me (Elizabeth Tamkin), Crochet Enthusiast
When I was in art school, I took apart a blanket my great-grandmother crocheted and used the strands of yarn to re-make it as a top. Unraveling that blanket showed me how complicated it had been to make it—and gave me such an appreciation for the art. I very much regret having taken that blanket apart (I still have the second half of it).
That said, taking it apart was sort of magical—initially, I’d wanted to do it to uncover my great-grandmother’s path to me through the blanket. I revisited every stitch she’d made. Crochet is a hand-made art form and whoever crochets the piece — whether that be a blanket or a pair of shorts — is inherently in that final product. I love that.
Instagram has led me to a vast number of incredible crochet artists, like Art of Aura who made these shorts. Here I’m wearing my cherry tassel crochet shorts by Art of Aura–which is sold with a top as a set–with a vintage short sleeve blouse from Thrilling and a pair of mule sandals. The crochet is a tight-enough weave that it doesn’t have holes, so the shorts are completely wearable in public. Once you put them on, they fit really well to your body, stretching and molding to your curves. I often wear these shorts as alternatives to denim. They feel more styled, thoughtful, fun, and certainly more lounge-friendly. I also love that they are one-of-a-kind because no two handmade crochet items are completely alike!
Crochet T-shirt with Halima Mbwana, Crochet Artist
I have been crocheting since I was in elementary school. My mom taught me. I’ve always been interested in making things to wear. My room used to be filled with tiny clothes for my Barbies. The first wearable crochet piece I made was a neon green off-the-shoulder fishnet poncho. I wore it with a zebra print circle skirt that I also made. Making one piece can take between 2 to 15 hours–the items that take the longest to complete are skirts and sweaters and the ones that I can pop out in my sleep are bralette and tank styles.
I look for longevity and uniqueness in my own work. I want customers to see my pieces as art and investments! I buy a lot of handmade knitwear from other designers, and I usually go for things that make me feel like a 6-foot-tall toddler. Wearing pieces I make myself gives me a lot of pride. I love knowing that no one else has a top or skirt or jacket that I am wearing. I also love being wrapped in soft yarn.
When I wear crochet items, I usually keep everything else pretty simple. I like to let the crochet pieces speak for themselves. Here, I paired a crochet top with an everyday pair of jeans, fun wooden-heeled sandals, and a tiny box bag. – Halima
Crochet Dress with Sydney Ziems, Crochet Shopper
I got this dress from Eloquii. I had been searching for a crochet dress, but I was having a hard time finding something flattering for my curves that didn’t scream “beach coverup.” When I saw this dress I was really excited because of the bold vertical stripes. I am always looking for pieces that create the illusion of length. I also love the fringe detail on the dress because it’s fun and playful!
A couple of favorite crochet brands of mine are MooMoo Crochet and Fancy Nancy Crochet. They both have dreamy patterns and designs that are fun and free-spirited. I like dresses that are a little see-through. It still has a flirty effect but I don’t have to worry about wearing a slip dress underneath. I really like 3D designs too, like crochet flower embellishments! Crochet is breathable and has a cozy feel to it, and I know with smaller independent brands it is made with love which I really appreciate.
I appreciate taking a more minimal approach when it comes to styling “louder” items of clothing like this dress. I decided to pair it with these vibrant blue abalone shell earrings and hair clips from my accessories brand Serendipitous Project. I love how the blue gives a little pop, complements the black and white, and adds personality to the outfit. Since, I am obsessed with creating height I paired it with some chunky black Simon Miller flatform sandals that go well with everything! – Sydney