Lockdown Fashion: Karie’s story

Today’s ‘Lockdown Fashion’ interview is with Karie Westermann. Karie works as a knitwear designer in the handknitting industry and also writes about, teaches, and consults on all things textiles, making and creative. “I’m originally from Denmark but now live in Glasgow, Scotland. I began by making clothes for my dolls when I was 8 and I’ve never stopped being fascinated by clothes and what they say about us. I can be found at kariebookish.net, and on all the socials as @kariebookish.”

1) Can you describe what your personal style was like before lockdown?

Before lockdown, I would have described my style as colourful, intentional, and eclectic. I have a creative job where anything goes, and I enjoyed playing around with what that means. I used to embrace a retro femme look, but this has changed a lot over the last few years with my personal style being more influenced by Bauhaus women and 1970s glam than Hollywood sirens and tea dresses. At the same time I was obsessed with the idea of an everyday wardrobe, so I was also exploring that: what did the everyday look like when I had no dresscode and a thousand different occasions to dress for?

2) How would you describe your style now?

Right now I am wearing an orange-and-black leopard print jumper with red leggings, so it’s fair to say “still colourful” but my devotion to clean lines and intentionality has disappeared somewhat. I am definitely less put together. I trim my own fringe but I have not kept up my hair colouring. I do not wear any makeup. I am not spending much time thinking about outfits. My personal lockdown style is probably the most chaotic it has been (and also littered with biscuit crumbs).

3) Has your approach to fashion and style changed as a result of the current situation?

I am in the strange position of being able to make a lot of my own clothes, and I am finding myself making clothes for the future rather than the here-and-now. I am making quite a few basics and am finding myself quite in love with navy blue (and just made myself a navy blue jumpsuit). I am still playing around with colours and patterns, but I’m really fascinated with the foundations of my wardrobe. I am going to spend time making my own jeans (which I would never have considered before lockdown) because I want to understand the processes behind such a wardrobe staple. Lockdown has given me time to think beyond “oh, this looks cool” and made me consider having a long-term plan for the clothes I wear. I have never been a fast-fashion consumer but I feel like my slow-fashion thing is really slowing down.

I’ve also invested in no-underwire bras and it’s been a revelation.

4) What were the social situations that you routinely found yourself in before the quarantine? And how did you dress for them?

I used to travel around Europe teaching, and I had a specific teaching uniform. It wasn’t different from my usual clothes, but it just made getting ready easy. I needed to be able to bend over without showing cleavage or (back when I wore dresses) bum, and I needed to be able to stand on my feet for ages. And so I’d wear a jumpsuit with a bright knitted garment and quirky converse shoes. Packing was easy. I also knew that clothes were part of why I was teaching and I needed to dress to fit the story of what I was teaching. I could not be teaching a class on vintage Scandinavian knitwear and not show up in knitwear!

5) Is there anything you feel you can wear now that you couldn’t in ‘normal’ times? Why? And is there anything you miss wearing (and why do you not wear it)?

I still change from my somewhat questionable outfits when I have to go out in public! I don’t care if “public” now means “going to Tesco” instead of “going to Hamburg” — I still do not feel comfortable going outside in mismatched clothes and shoes. My outside clothes are probably less elaborate than before as I still don’t wear makeup (hello face masks) and I tend to resort to casual clothes (dungarees and a tee) over anything more complex.

I do miss putting outfits together and I’ve not worn my favourite shirt since lockdown. It is an acidic yellow blouse with a tiny dark print, and I’m saving it for when I get together with my pub quiz pals once more. I have this strange sense of needing to put The Good Outfits into reserve for when I really need a boost or a celebration.

If you’d like to take part in the project yourself, you can find all the information you need in the blog post entitled ‘Lockdown Fashion: an exploration of dressing at home in 2020‘ dated 9th April 2020.

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