Boots and coats are must-haves come cold weather, but when you’re craving a cozy ensemble, a sweater is the foundation of a quintessential fall look. And if you’re just starting to build a corral of staples, a cashmere crewneck, ribbed turtleneck, or oversize cable-knit are timeless options worth investing in first. Their versatility means that you can create a myriad of sweater outfits with any of the three. Think with jeans or leggings for casual moments, trousers for work, or for an elegant take, with a skirt or layered over a slip dress.
“A classic, high-quality sweater is the best staple in a wardrobe to dress up or down when it is styled right,” says Sanaz Gera, founder of the sustainable knitwear label, Oyun. “Our classic rib styles are made of a viscose material that has a smooth, matte finish that looks polished yet has the feel of cashmere that feels so cozy.” The label has also created matching knit bottoms that coordinate with their ribbed sweaters — an easy alternative to a sweatsuit, and ideal for mixing and matching. “Basics never go out of style,” Gera adds. “[They] have a variety of functions in a wardrobe for a busy person with a demanding social life who wants to look chic without having to make an effort.”
But, not all knitwear has to be basic. “Come fall, a statement sweater is an unlikely hero piece,” stylist Dione Davis tells TZR. “My closet is full of wardrobe staples, so interesting knits are key. A client of mine inspired me to come up with the term Kramer Bradshaw as a new aspirational personal style that pairs the AARP [American Association of Retired Persons] uniform of Seinfeld’s second most stylish character with the daring sexiness of Carrie Bradshaw.” In other words, don’t be afraid to get quirky with your look. Think of multicolored, printed, or embellished knits as a playful antidote to otherwise simple styles, as witnessed in Loewe, Victor Glemaud, and Gucci’s fall collections. Not only do these sweaters make a sartorial impact, but they fully speak to those with a maximalist sensibility.
Whether timeless or bold, knits also apply to those in warmer climates. You’ll get tons of wardrobe mileage out of a vibrant or simple style in weather that doesn’t quite warrant a coat. So, no matter where you live, you’ll benefit from the nine sweater outfits ideas ahead. Get inspired by each one with tips from the experts, complete with an edit to shop.
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Cooler In A Cardigan
Cardigans can easily skew snoozy, but when thinking outside the box with bolder colors and unexpected layers, they’re far from it. “A pairing I’ve been toying with is a sheer slip dress over trousers with a chunky angora cardigan or sweater vest on top with sleek kitten heels,” Davis says.
Say Yes To The Vest
The ultimate knit piece for leaning into Davis’s coined Kramer Bradshaw aesthetic is undoubtedly the sweater vest. With trousers, the look is perfect at work. But for more tension, mix in unexpected extras like boldly printed, athletic, or cargo-style pants with a button-down and a fun shoe to finish.
The Updated Denim Default
When dressing in a pinch, the sweater and jeans combo is a default. However, to refresh the formula, Almina Concept founder Angela Gahng tells TZR, “We love white wide-leg denim [or] long, light straight-leg jeans.” On crisp fall days, top this outfit off with an eye-catching jacket and colorful accessories.
Ribbed For The Win
Ribbed knit sets guarantee stand-out style with minimal effort — nothing better. To wit, they’re oh-so-comfy with a loungy feel that reads polished outside the house but is deliciously cozy when staying in. “Our acai color variegated rib crew and leggings can be worn [as a set] at home, apres ski, or [broken up] with your favorite skirt to be dressed up with heels,” Gera says.
Head-to-toe color always equates to instant style. This season, play with proportions by teaming an oversize turtleneck with slouchy trousers in beige. Then, mix in a sleek tan bag and white sneakers for contrast.
Graphic & Bright
There’s no denying the way color and print uplift your mood, not to mention showcase carefree confidence. Try combing a printed knit with a brightly colored style draped over your shoulders or tied around your waist for a spirited effect. Leather pants ground this look flawlessly for a city-sleek finish with attitude.
Double The Knits, Double The Warmth
“A statement sweater over a classic turtleneck and trousers is not only chic but incredibly warm,” Davis tells TZR. To maintain a fresh yet seasonally appropriate feel throughout, the stylist says, “Add a statement shoe like a lucite heel with a thin sock to elevate further.”
For Coat Optional Weather
For not-too-cold climates or that transitional pre-fall weather, Davis suggests “pairing a statement sweater with long leather shorts and tall boots for a cozy coat optional look.” To keep things streamlined, seek out pieces with clean lines, whether you opt for a brightly colored sweater or jaunty print.
Sweet On Sets
Since Katie Holmes’s viral moment donning Khaite’s knit bralette and cardigan, the look has become universally beloved. A matching sweater set like this is the epitome of effortlessness, whether you team yours with a skirt, jeans, or slouchy trousers. A timeless wool coat, dark-rinse jeans, and suede boots make for a polished, evening-ready finish.