9 Sweater Dress Outfits That Aren’t as Basic as They Sound
Here's how to liven up this winter wardrobe staple.
If autumn is the start of sweater weather, by wintertime, we're well into sweater dress season. Think about it: The combination of back-to-back holidays and chilly temperatures call for looks that are comfortable, classic, and warm, right? Well, no ensemble achieves those qualities quite like sweater dress outfits. Plus, this cozy wardrobe staple can be worn season-round, so long as you know some fresh ways ways to style it.
See, sweater dresses are an outfit in and of themselves, and that’s why we love them. A done-in-one article of clothing, these dresses can be worn as-is, and you'll look fabulous with minimal effort. That being said, any effort you put into accessorizing determines the number of looks you can get out of just one dress. To prove it, we scoured Instagram to find a few examples of how influencers are styling this quintessential winter piece. Scroll and learn.
Style an Oversized Tunic as a Sweater Dress
Have any oversized sweaters or tunics that hit just above the knee or lower? Give lampshading a shot. The styling technique (originally coined by TheSkimm) saw a lot of traction between 2015-2017, with celebs like Ariana Grande, Kendall Jenner, Beyonce, J.Lo, and even Katie Holmes embracing the pantless look. Grande is still known to rock the trend, and we think it’s a great way to upcycle an item already sitting in your closet. Simply pair the oversized top with knee-high boots and accessorize how you see fit, but if it’s a little too cold to go bare-legged, a pair of thick tights and booties will do, too.
Opt For Mock Neck Sweater Dress
Aside from adding warmth, there's something about a mock neck that looks so sophisticated and sleek. Embrace the elegance of a high-neck sweater dress by pairing it with a tailored blazer and cunning heels or ankle booties.
Add a Belt
Some sweater dresses are form-fitting, but most are loose and roomy (which is what makes them so comfortable). Clasp a belt around your waist to ensure your figure doesn’t get lost under all that bulk, and be strategic about where you place the accessory. How you wear your belt and what kind of belt you choose can be the difference between a sweet or sexy vibe, so feel free to play around with placement and proportions to ensure you end up with something that suits your style.
Focus On Your Footwear
Pull on a sweater dress and you have an outfit as-is, but if you want to take said outfit to the next level, accessories are what’s going to get you there. Case in point: A pair of statement footwear that command attention and pop against a solid knit. Sweater dresses and boots go together like peanut butter and jelly, and experimenting with color, strappy details, or animal prints will a bit more pizazz to the classic combination.
Try Something Sleeveless
Grandpa-style sweater vests were peppered throughout celebrity wardrobes this year, and while “shests” (vests styled as shirts) saw a resurgence, the sweater vest dress is staying around for winter. To nail the look, layer an oversized sweater vest over a long sleeved button-down or turtleneck (and remember, the longer the vest, the better). Pair with heels or chunky combat boots, then add a belt to accentuate your curves.
Layer With a Leather Jacket
Leather is one of those multifaceted materials you can pretty much pair with anything, but it looks especially good layered over something fuzzy or knit. A leather moto jacket or vintage-style leather blazer over a longer sweater dress will create a kind of street style look, and if your dress is a bit on the shorter side, you can add a pair of leather leggings to your ensemble for added warmth.
Color Coordinate Your Accessories
Instead of matching your accessories to your sweater dress, choose a separate color scheme to add a bit of contrast. Coordinating your footwear to your hair accessories, jewelry, and handbag will keep the finished look from looking too busy, but it won’t be boring, either.
Show a Little Skin
Holes are the new polka-dots, so when it’s not too brisk outside, don’t be shy to show a bit of skin with a slit or cutout. We particularly love sweater dresses like the one photographed above, designed with the slightest hint of a cold shoulder. It’s subtly sensual, and if the wind picks up you can throw on a cozy scarf for warmth.
Grab a Cardigan
Cozy on cozy? Yes, please. Sleeveless sweater dresses are elegant and sophisticated, but they’re more fashionable than they are functional when you’re facing brisk weather conditions. Still, if your heart’s set on wearing a sleeveless sweater dress to an upcoming event, shrug on a cardigan to keep your arms warm. You’ll thank us later.