How to Wear Lace Every Day

From yarn choice to styling, adding lace to your wardrobe is a matter of knitter’s choice.

Pat Olski Dec 14, 2023 - 5 min read

How to Wear Lace Every Day Primary Image

A delicate lace shawl paired with a casual jumpsuit gives a sweet lift to a sporty outfit. Photo by Gale Zucker

“Everyday lace” seems like an oxymoron. After all, for centuries lace was so precious it was available only to the men and women of the nobility, the highest echelons of the clergy, and the wealthiest members of society, who draped themselves in it as a lavish display of their wealth.

Fortunately, now, lace is virtually at our fingertips! From beginner to expert, lace knitting patterns abound, and we are no longer restricted to creating fiber magic with the finest of cotton or linen threads. We can craft fabrics with open spaces in our choice of yarn, from the finest metallics to the lushest chunkiest wools, with our choice of needles from delicate wires to sturdy broomsticks. We are no longer restrained to the use of white or ecru; rich colors and overdyed yarns add a modern dimensionality to those traditional stitches.

The projects are no longer confined, either, to simple shapes of fine fabric or tiny pieces such as collars and cuffs. Twenty-first century lace knitting enhances everything from yarn bombings to bikinis to hoodies with equal aplomb.

Estonian shawl, blue jeans, tartan flannel Plaid and denim offer a great backdrop to a sumptuous traditional Estonian lace pattern knitted in an ivory laceweight yarn.

Some knitters (myself included) still revel in knitting the most ethereal of lace, often with a special occasion (such as a wedding) in mind. But this tantalizing craft beckons to most of us, and the more practically minded among us may prefer creating sturdier items for daily wear.

  1. A single row of eyelets, a pretty motif at the wrist, or an openwork border will add a touch of lace to any project without compromising the strength of the fabric.
  2. Lace patterns do not have to be flowery: a clean geometric pattern will enhance even the sportiest of outfits.
  3. Lace doesn’t have to be dainty and for indoor occasions only. A fluffy wool yarn knit up in an openwork pattern will still trap air and retain some insulating properties.
  4. A slightly heftier yarn will make for a less fragile garment, which is nice if you want to knit a traditional pattern but want the garment to be more versatile than ultrafine lace would be.
  5. A decidedly contemporary yarn (such as a handpaint) can create a wonderfully modern fabric when paired with a traditional lace technique such as Estonian lace and nupp knitting.
  6. Your lace piece can be the accent piece. A lacy cowl or gloves can highlight the simplicity of your outfit in a flattering fashion.
  7. Conversely, your lace piece can be your statement piece. A lace sweater worn in tandem with jeans and boots will let you display your knitting more prominently.
  8. Consider your jewelry choices: an intricate piece of lace clothing is better worn with smooth-edged accessories.

green geometric lace, gray flannel, white blouse The timeless combination of gray flannel and a crisp white shirt are enhanced by a simple repetitive lacy motif shawl in a sport weight yarn.

For lovers of delicate lace, even a project such as the legendary Shetland shawl that can fit through a wedding ring can still be worn every day. Indeed, some of the filmiest pieces pack away so compactly that they are ideal to place in a small protective bag to keep in your handbag for a cool moment out.

variegated shawl, maroon puffer, olive jersey Style your puffer with a simple eyelet repeat knit in handpainted fingering-weight yarn.

Whether substantial or airy, wear it proudly—lace is a testament to any knitter’s skill, no matter how simple or extravagant your outfit may be.

Pat Olski is a designer, author, and the editor of PieceWork magazine.