Sweater weather is officially here, and it’s time to build your sweater wardrobe. These versatile essentials are the comfort food of our wardrobes. There are the casual V-necks we curl up in at home to eat popcorn and binge watch Gilmore Girls. There are sweater coats we wear to work when we just can’t face that boring black blazer any more. And then there are sequined cardigans we wear to cocktail parties. There is a sweater for every occasion. Here are a few ways to put sweaters on the fashion menu this fall:
Start with the basics. While T-shirts and tank tops may be summer staples, when the weather gets chilly swap them out with lightweight fine-gauge knit pullovers. These versatile classics will become the backbone of your wardrobe and start the layering process that is so important particularly at this time of year when we transition between warm and cool days and nights. Tip: If you wear a lot of leggings or skinny style pants or jeans, make sure you have at least one or more of these pullover sweaters in a longer tunic style length to layer under jackets or other sweaters.
Sip a little style. One of the best sweaters to sample this fall is the classic turtleneck. Some of our favorite style icons—Audrey Hepburn, Katherine, too...and then there was Sharon Stone in the infamous Gap turtleneck at the Oscars—have given us a taste of the ultimate in chic dressing when they made this sweater a symbol of elegance. Tip: Choose a ribbed knit turtleneck top in colorful stripes this fall for even more flavor.
Update the cardigan. The twinset may have been a favorite of our grandmothers, but it still serves up a big dose of scrumptious style. It’s Grandpa’s turn this year when he inspires the old school varsity sweater. Think Mr. Rogers. Tip: Separate the pieces and slip the crewneck over a shift dress to give it a cropped top/skirt effect or layer the buttoned up cardigan under a sleeveless dress to transform it into a jumper. And remember, you can always sling that cardigan around your shoulders to chase away the chills.
Add the appetizers. The classic sweaters may be constants in our wardrobes year after year, but there are plenty of ways to spice up your sweater collection this fall. The long sweater cocoon coat is one of the best ways to add some spicy versatility. Ditto for long, lean sweater dresses that give you instant all-in-one options. Watch for chunky “fisherman-style” sweaters to cuddle up in this winter. Tip: Add a fringe sweater poncho or wrap to top off anything and everything in your wardrobe.
Sample the dessert tray. For upcoming holiday parties, the embellished sweater sprinkled with sparkling sequins and beads will shine all through the season, day and night. The off-the-shoulder sweater is another treat to dress up for festive occasions. Tip: Pair glittering sweaters with velvet midi skirts and high heel ankle boots for yummy glamour.
The biggest tip? Always go for the best quality sweaters you can afford. We may not all be able to buy Scottish cashmere, but we can do a “touch” test on any knit, whether it’s merino wool, silk or cotton. Then try on sweaters before you buy them. There’s nothing worse than a sweater that stretches too tight over all the wrong places...or is so baggy, you get lost in the layers. Just go out to eat...before you try on that new sweater.
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.