This Midwestern gal hates the cold. However, I adore the cozy styles that ward it off. Consequently, today’s post – a sweater dress spectacular – emerges from a conversation with a friend. “I love the look of sweater dresses, but they can be kinda hard to pull off,” she said. I hear you girl! While there are certainly sweater dresses for every body type out there, it’s not always easy to find the right style for your particular frame.
That’s why sweater dresses are such a polarizing garment. When they’re “right” – with a perfect fit and quality fabrication – they ooze elegance and sophistication. They keep you warm and comfortable. But… they can also leave you feeling like you’re wearing a blanket or resembling a stuffed sausage (speaking from experience here).
So, how do you get that ideal fit? How do you choose the right sweater dresses for every body type? Before we dive into specifics, I have two crucial pieces of overall advice.
When in doubt, size up
Avoid thin knits
Knit fabrics, by nature, want to cling to your curves. I am all for fitted garments. However, unless you’re a supermodel, clingy is rarely flattering. In contrast, I pay close attention to sizing guides and often size up to get a garment that skims my curves rather than hugging them.
Additionally, avoid buying a sweater dress with a super thin knit. They can be extremely unflattering and are one of the main reasons sweater dresses get a bad rap. Thin knits show every lump and bump – and create trouble areas in places where they don’t exist. People are too quick to blame their body when they don’t like what they see in the mirror. Usually, it’s the garment or fit at fault!
Now, let’s dig into a few options… There are sweater dresses for every body type!
Sweater Dress | Clear Bag (Just $17)
If you have an hourglass figure (symmetrical hips and bustline), you can pull off almost anything. Why not choose a dress that lets you show off your curves? Wrapped styles or this stunning cable knit dress are an excellent choice. The tie waist (pictured above) draws attention to and slims your waistline, while the ruffle adds some fun flair.
It is a thick, heavy knit and as cozy as they come. If you want a dress that really turns heads, give this a whirl! Perfect for winter parties, it is also easy to dress down for the office. The piece is from Chicwish, currently my favorite online retailer (think moderately priced, highly unique, quality pieces – comparable to Zara). For sizing reference, I am just shy of 5′ and wearing the XS. Here is another recent post featuring the brand.
A few notes about ordering from Chicwish: Its pieces usually run slightly smaller/shorter than department store items. However, it has a very detailed sizing guide. If you follow that to the letter, you should have no issues with sizing. Additionally, Chicwish styles sell out quickly. The brand is constantly adding new items, so it carries pieces in limited quantities. If you like something, buy it quickly or your size will sell out. I’m still kicking myself for missing out on a sweater dress I adored (and wanted to share with you on the blog) because I waited too long.
Orange Dress | Bow Pumps | Pearl Hair Clips
When your hips are wider than your upper body, you want to find a sweater dress that balances out those proportions. A fit-and-flare cut in a quality, non-revealing fabric is a great option. This pleated orange number, also from Chicwish, flows ever so gently away from your hips. Meanwhile, it narrows your waist with a bow tie. And how cute are these buttons? This dress is also available in a beautiful cranberry color. The knit is a great quality and much heavier/warmer than I anticipated.
Sweater Dress | Clear Bag | Black Boots
Have a straight up and down figure? Looking to add curves? Find pieces with detailing or ruffles around the neckline, to add to your bust, or seek out styles with bold sleeves. You could also add shape via color, like the blue and red dress below. My dress above from Target (under $40!) will add some shape to your frame with its dramatic puffed sleeves. The midi length feels fresh and modern, while the neutral color allows you to wear this beauty for work or play. If you are tall, you can rock a slim-fit midi like no one else. Since I’m only 4’11 and change, I am not showing this style off to its full advantage. Tall gals, go for this one! You can also nab this dress in black.
Boyish figures can also create curves by swapping out the sweater dress for a sweater/skirt combo. For instance, the detailing on this cropped wrap sweater narrows the waistline, while the high-waisted skirt flows away from the body adding a touch of volume. This creates the hourglass figure you are looking for. Both pieces are from Chicwish. **Important note: The sweater is a cropped style, designed to pair with high-waisted pieces. It will show your midriff with a traditional waistline.**
When the leaves begin to change color and the mornings grow crisp, cozy sweater dresses…
If you’ve landed here, chances are Chicwish has piqued your curiosity. Perhaps a banner…
Maureen | 14th Jan 20
Great tips and these are all beautiful sweater dresses. I love the ruffle hem on the first one. So feminine and fun!
Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com
laveremis | 16th Jan 20
Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, that ruffled dress stole my heart. I wear it ALL the time. Hope you are having a lovely January so far.
Kim | 11th Oct 21
Thank you for saying your tiny too. I’m only 4’8”
I’m A huge hoodie addict and I love these new styles. Do you think being short is kinda wrong for us to where these? I love staying warm but I’m nervous on these dresses. Especially the longer ones. I don’t wanna look like a child.what would you suggest? Also boots or what kind of shoe? My shoe size is a girls 1-1/2 so it’s really hard finding adult looking shoes or high boots and my budget is low. How do you pull off your short stature without having to hem your clothes. I’m 46yrs old. HELP!!!
laveremis | 7th Dec 21
Hi Kim, I’m so sorry I missed your comment! Sweater dresses can be tough for shorties like us, since they are hard to hem. However, when you find one that is an appropriate length, I think they are ideal. I only purchase sweater dresses if I can try them on in a store to assess the length or are shopping an online retailer that lists the length. I have a tape measure, so I can hold it up to my body to see whether the length will work. Chicwish is one of my favorite places to shop because it always has the length listed. I try to stick to lengths that are just above the knee, at the knee or slightly below. Anything longer makes me look really dowdy. Thanks for popping by the blog.
laveremis | 6th Jan 22
My apologies for not responding sooner. I am just seeing your comment now. I typically look for hemlines that are just above or just below the knee. I’m 38, so it feels age-appropriate and is still flattering for a shorter frame. I’ve had good luck as a petite shopping at stores that carry petite sizing, for instance… LOFT is affordable and has a great range of petite sizes. There are some good finds on Amazon too – though the quality is lesser. Chicwish is my go-to for sweater dresses though. I can always order with confidence because they include length measurements. So, I stand in front of a mirror and hold up a measuring tape to see where the hem will hit me before deciding if I’ll buy or not. Dresses that hit me mid-calf look super dowdy. As for shoes, I love a good knee high or ankle boot paired with sweater dresses. I recommend pointed toe over round, as the point elongates a petites leg line. You could also do a pointed toe flat.
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