Woven Style: Lace, Crochet & Macrame

Written by rebecca ford
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How to wear the cute, Bohemian trend this season

Woven Style: Lace, Crochet & Macrame
Spring and summer are great for sheer and openwork fabrics. (Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Lace is a beautifully luxe and feminine fabric. When done in a light palette, nothing says spring better.

— Celebrity Stylist Kristi Brooks

You may think of lace as the signature look of Madonna's favourite '80s outfit, or crochet and macrame as your grandma's handmade blankets, but openwork fabric is the effortless look gracing the runways of many designers. In their spring 2011 looks, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Dior, Gucci and Emilio Pucci all embraced lace, crochet and macrame -- in which the fabric is knotted together to create the weave. These delicate styles are ideal for spring and summer -- light and airy, flirty and fun.

While the openwork fabrics look great on models, how do you transfer the runway to your everyday without looking like an '80s flashback or a dowdy homemade project? Embracing the look means using it sparingly and pairing it with the right accessories.

Lace is created when a thread is looped, twisted or braided around other threads. In the same way, crochet is made by pulling loops of yarn through other loops. Macrame differs from crochet because the fabric is knotted rather than looped. All three styles create an open pattern, which provides for a light, breathable design that both looks and feels cool in the hot spring and summer months.

"Lace is a beautifully luxe and feminine fabric," said stylist Kristi Brooks, who has been styling actress Sharon Stone for several years. "When done in a light palette, nothing says spring better."

However, when done incorrectly, lace can come off very, very wrong. The fabric is dramatic because it's open yet intricate. But it should be taken in small doses.

"Very heavy, head-to-toe lace is the wrong approach to this look," Brooks said. "You'll end up looking like a doily."

Brooks recommends taking baby steps with your lace looks, one piece at a time. Try a lace camisole or blouse with high-waist jeans, or a lace skirt with a chambray shirt and braided brown leather belt.

You'll see insets of lace and crochet instead of entire outfits made out of the fabric, says Natasha Fussell, stylist for Lonnys, a New York-based retailer with five boutiques.

"I think it's really great as an accent," Fussell said. "It's flirty and it's a way to wear lace without it being an entire lace top, which can come off a little trashy looking."

Wearing a crochet vest, for example, is a way to add texture to your outfit without overwhelming it. Fussell points out that shirts with a crocheted or lace back are also in vogue. Another tasteful choice, she says, are open-weave sweaters, which give off the same look as crochet or macrame. Throw one on over a colourful tank top.

"Lace needs to be broken up with other fabrics, colours and textures to give off a more modern, classic appeal," agreed stylist and commentator Colin T. McDonald, who has worked for prestigious designers, including Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors.

It doesn't have to be a piecemeal approach, though, a simple accessory over closed knits and wovens. It's also possible to wear bigger items. Lace dresses, for example, are favoured frocks for backyard parties and barbecues.

"A long-sleeved lace minidress with gladiator sandals, layered necklaces and a hobo bag is my go-to spring outfit," Brooks said.

When choosing a lace dress, avoid anything that's too short or shows too much cleavage. Because of lace's see-through texture, it already gives off a sexy vibe, so there's no need to go overboard.

No matter if you decide to wear an accent of lace or crochet, or decide to go for the full-on dress, accessories are key to balancing your outfit. Because lace has a pattern and texture to it, it's best to choose solid accessories to pair with it. Solid cuffs, simple medallion necklaces or hoop earrings all work well to round out the look.

Brooks likes to create a bit of juxtaposition with the femininity of lace by pairing layered, chunky necklaces, bold cocktail rings and a neutral colour shoe.

"It's all about a soft colour palette," Brooks explained.

And, for those who are just starting out on the open-weave road, take a baby step by simply accessorising with lace. According to McDonald, a lace shoe, belt or bag is just such a step.

"[It's] a perfect way to spruce up any dull or boring look."

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