What Kind of Sweater to Wear Over a Sleeveless Dress?

Patricial Clarkson knows how to put a sweet sweater with a form-fitting sleeveless number.

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The idea to wear a sweater with your sleeveless dress is inspired and you'll get more bang for your wardrobe buck when cool weather comes calling. But, just what sweater you pair with what dress depends on your personal sense of style and a few rules of the game, of course.

It's a Cardigan Thing

There are a lot of different sweaters to pick from. But when it comes to your sleeveless dress, your best bet is to wear a cardigan. Pullover sweaters can add weird, bulky lumps to your frame, depending on your dress. They can also destroy a waistline, making you look bigger. Nobody wants that. Cardigans are a lot more versatile and give you the option of covering up your arms, but not your dress, or adding waist definition to a dress that doesn't already have it.


If you're wearing a sheath to the office, then a cardigan is a must-have, not just for fashion but to combat cool office AC or fall temps. The sheath dress can be worn with just about any cardigan you've got, from cropped and short sleeved, to long sleeved and tunic style. It's not so much the type of cardigan with the sheath that matters, but doing your color combinations right. If you're wearing a pattern, go for a neutral, solid-colored sweater. If you've got on a black dress, try a cardigan in a soft color such as lavender or pale blue.

Fitted Pencil Dress

This type of dress can be sexy, but demured down with the addition of a cardigan. If you're going to wear a cardigan, you have two options: wear a long, tunic cardigan and belt it at the waist to create some definition. Or wear an open style that's the same length as your dress, to create a long lean line that lengthens your body. Open cardigans don't have any closures such as buttons or zippers, just in case you weren't sure.

Fitted Bodice

Some dresses have a fitted bodice that is tight to your midsection. They also tend to have a skirt that flares out a little to balance that snug middle. It's important you don't go too long when you're picking out a cardigan for this type of dress. Try a shorter style that hits right at the end of the waistline on the dress. Or go for a shrug sweater. Think of a shrug like a little baby cardigan; it's meant to just cover up your arms and stay open. Your final option is a hip-length cardigan that's belted at the waist. At any rate, you want to keep the waist of the dress visible.

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