In Defense Of The Over-The-Top Sweater

Gloomy winter style? I don’t know her.

Christian Vierig/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Tamu McPherson

A printed sweater embodies just about everything personal style needs right about now — expressiveness, energy, and a pinch of excitement. Knitwear is necessary when temperatures take a plunge, but that doesn’t have to equate to a sea of slick cashmere neutrals. In fact, designers have proven that bright patterns translate rather well to a cozy sweater. And with the coldest months of the year still ahead, it’s time to take matters into your own hands with an overview of the best graphic sweater trends of the moment, according to experts.

Tapping industry names from some of the most creative emerging retailers across the country, the roundup of ideas below serve as a finger on the pulse — an overview of the different ways knitwear is entering the style conversation with know-how from buyers, founders, and more. Taking you beyond a classic plaid print, these experts speak to taking the industry’s rising trends and make sure your knitwear checks all the boxes. From fresh spins on the tried-and-true options to modern riffs on nostalgic prints of the past, the five ideas below will no doubt infuse your wardrobe with just the right amount of liveliness to make it through the year’s chilliest days. The best part? They’ll be just as relevant for the years to come, which means finding a sweater print you love will be akin to a sustainable investment for your personal style.

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Block Print

For a bigger, brighter take on the checkerboard print trend, Lisa Buhler of Lisa Says Gah points to block prints. “It’s my favorite trend right now,” she says. “It gives me ‘80s office vibes and I love a chunky block sweater paired with a mini skirt and heels.” Look for options in contrasting bright colors for a look you can carry all the way into spring.

Fair Isle Print

Fair Isle prints are a perennial favorite come colder months, and for Pilot and Powell Co-owner Kathryn Bullock, they present a creative opportunity for strong winter style. “I love the classicism of a Fair Isle knit, but reimagined with a modern twist for this season as a sweater vest,” she says. “Pair it with a short sleeve tee and slouchy, pleated trousers for day or over an evening dress for something more unexpected.” To modernize this long-loved print, keep an eye out for silhouettes that feel easy to incorporate into your wardrobe.

Colorful Print

Owner and buyer at New York’s t.a., Telsha Anderson-Boone wards off winter blues with a joyous splash of color. “Colorful ribbed-knit sweaters are one of my favorite trends for fall and winter,” she says. “There's something about the texture and warmth that's unmatched and I'm looking forward to throwing mine on as the temperature drops and the holiday season picks up.” Pair with jeans or neutral trousers for a classic look, or try a bold sweater with printed pants for a distinctive pairing.

Psychedelic Graphic Print

Psychedelic artwork has always intersected fashion, and for James Veloria co-owner Brandon Veloria, it’s manifesting on some of his favorite knits for the season. “If I'm gonna be freezing in NYC I might as well be wearing something fun and colorful, and I’m really excited about all of the psychedelic and graphic prints happening on sweaters this season,” Veloria says. "ERL's swirly psychedelic-printed sweaters are some of my favs not to mention the outerwear — something to take you out of winter and onto Venice beach.”

Whimsical Craftcore Print

Riding the wave of the craftcore trend, a new knitwear style has emerged, Le Point owner Pauline Montupet observes. “We saw a lot of craftcore avant basic styles become popular over the summer, which had lots of color and print and just overall fun. Moving into winter, we are seeing this trend come through with whimsical intarsia knits,” she says. “I love how playful they are and you can use them to add a bit of fun and color to your winter wardrobe.” Her current pick from Ganni features retro style fonts layered with paisley. “It reminds me of my notebooks in middle school where I would doodle names and little drawings all around the borders. How can you not smile while thinking about that?”