If you don't have the budget for new sweaters this season, you can always reinvent your old sweaters by wearing them differently. It's a tried-and-true strategy of any low-budget fashionista. Instead of stepping out in a sweater, jeans, and a few wrist bangles, switch things up and slip the same cozy knit underneath a dress. Or tuck the sweater in to your jeans and add a vibrant scarf.
I admit, this is easier said than done. It's hard to envision new pairings with the same old clothes. That's one of the reasons why you might feel compelled to shop -- because the clothes you already own seem, well, boring. In a way, they've branded themselves to work with certain outfits and so those are the only combinations you see in your closet. It may take a fresh eye to identify outfits you've never considered before. That's especially true with sweaters, because they're usually not trendy or even that interesting.
Here's what you can do. First, get your creative juices flowing with this list of seven fun ways to don a sweater this season. Then, invite a friend over to look in your closet and help you brainstorm new outfit ideas. Soon enough, you'll step out looking like you've been shopping, when you actually haven't spent a dime.
1. Wear a sweater over your shoulders
If you're a child of the '70s or '80s, you might be unavoidably thinking about Carlton Banks of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air right now. Carlton, the poster boy for preppy style, often had a thick, cable-knit sweater resting on his shoulders and tied at his chest. But guess what? Banks' preppy look is back in style. Yes, tying a sweater over your shoulders is definitely on trend in 2021. And it's a remarkable way to repurpose an old sweater, especially the sweater that's have lost its shape or just doesn't fit well.
Try this trend out over any long-sleeved top. You could even double-down on your prep style with pleated pants and loafers, too.
2. Wear a sweater under a dress
Everyone can wear a sweater over a dress, but the true fashion gal layers her sweater under a dress. This look is striking because it's less common. To make it work for you, choose a dress that is heavy enough to retain its own shape. You don't want your knitwear ruining your look with lumps and bumps under the dress. For the same reason, you'll want to reach for your sleeker sweaters. Think tighter fits and lightweight knits. And feel free to add tights if it's too cold for bare legs.
3. Wear a sweater tucked in
Photo source: ASOS.com
A sweater, being naturally voluminous, is not an obvious candidate for tucking in. But the look can work for certain body types. If you're small on top, a tucked-in sweater can add balance and proportion, as long as you go with slimmer pieces on your bottom half. Or, if you are the girl who is tiny all over with a straight frame, you can add curves by tucking in a sweater and topping it with a belt.
You can also try a partial tuck -- just shove the front of your sweater into the top of your jeans. Get it right and the sweater drapes down at your hips in a flattering way. This is an off-duty look that has a chic, but low-maintenance vibe.
4. Wear a sweater under a belt
Statement belts are trending this season, which is practically an invitation to pair a fun belt over an old knit. Whether you're teaming the belt with a tight sweater or a bulky one, this strategy will define your waistline and show off your curves.
If you don't love wearing belts, try experimenting with different belt thicknesses and styles, from solids to patterns. There's a belt to flatter every shape, and it could be that you haven't found the right one for you just yet. Generally speaking, wide belts flatter longer torsos and slim belts flatter short ones. If you prefer a belt that's brightly colored, start with a slim one first. Position it high, at your natural waist. (To find your natural waist, stand up straight, put your arms over your head, and tilt sideways. Look for the spot where your side creases.)
5. Wear a sweater over leggings
Photo source: Macys
A long sweater that hangs straight without an elastic hemline looks amazing over sleek leggings. Add in your favorite tall boots, a scarf, or a belt. For extra warmth, throw on a coat that's just longer than your sweater for a fun layered look. Oh, and grab a coffee from Starbucks (because you'll be ready for one of those Instagram shots featuring you walking down an urban street, laughing, and holding your coffee drink).
6. Wear a sweater as a dress
Your long sweater that you just wore over leggings? Make it a dress instead, worn with or without a belt. You can pair this look with ankle boots and tights. Top with your favorite trench coat for an added layer of warmth.
7. Wear a sweater like a robe
If you have a long cardigan on hand, change up its look with a belt over the top. You can go with a matching belt or, when you're feeling bold, choose a belt that offers contrast. An example would be a red belt instead of the black one shown here. Don't be afraid to pull your belt tight, either. It'll show off your natural waist and also mostly stay put when you sit down.
The long belt is also an option -- you'd tie it and let the long end hand down in front of one leg.
Want to know the best part about reinventing your old clothes with new outfits? Friends, family, and coworkers will notice something's different about your wardrobe and likely attribute it to new clothes. You might even field a few questions about where you're shopping these days. Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me.
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