Who doesn't love the hug of a sweater on a chilly holiday day or night? But here's the thing: This season sweaters have gone through the trend mill with flattering updates like dropped shoulders, side vents, new proportions, and appealing textures. Don't even think about wearing your plain old cardigan. Here are the top fresh looks to celebrate.
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PHOTO BY: Mango, Banana Republic, Target
1. Bold, colorful stripes. Skip the sweaters with themes of reindeer, Christmas trees and snowmen. Wide horizontal stripes and chunky color blocking like the Mango Color Block Sweater ($60, shop.mango.com), Banana Republic Super Soft Cotton Hi-Low Hem Sweater ($80, bananarepublic.com) and Who What Wear Striped Long Sleeve Fuzzy Cardigan ($37, target.com) are the way to go. They look cheery and aren't kitschy. Just add jeans and booties for a dress casual outfit that'll stand out in any crowd — in a good way.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy, Modcloth, Target, Mango
2. The giant turtleneck/cowl. This is the I-don't-want-to-get-out-of-bed alternative to curling up under the duvet. Relaxed sweaters with a snuggly turtle or cowl like the Mango Turtleneck Oversized Sweater ($60, shop.mango.com), Old Navy Slouchy Turtleneck Sweater for Women ($50, oldnavy.gap.com), Prologue Plus-Size 3/4 Sleeve Turtleneck Pullover Sweater ($35, target.com) and Modcloth On the Warm Side Cowl Neck Sweater ($59, modcloth.com) pair well with leggings or your softest jeans. Note: This is not the same as wearing your significant other's five-times-larger sweater or a baggy, shapeless oldie from back of your closet. Proportions are everything.
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PHOTO BY: Eloquii , Old Navy, Target, Gap
3. The knee-length cardigan. Whether you call it a “duster,” a “boyfriend” cardigan or “cardi-coat,” an elongated no-buttons style like the A New Day Women's Long Sleeve Open Front Duster Sweater ($37, target.com), Eloquii Boyfriend Cardigan ($90, eloquii.com), Gap Ribbed Coat Cardigan Sweater ($89, gap.com) or Old Navy Plus-Size Super-Long Open-Front Sweater ($53, oldnavy.gap.com) is your holiday BFF. It frames your body from shoulder to knees to optically shave away extra inches at the hips and thighs. Look for styles that provide enough coverage at the bust so you're not tugging, and enjoy the extra confidence of knowing your rear view is covered. Wear it as a chill chaser over a dress or with a toned-to-match T-shirt for a new take on the twinset.
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PHOTO BY: Target, Modcloth, Zara
4. Sparkly sweaters. Pull on a twinkling sweater studded with pearls, sequins or beads like the Zara Sequin Chenille Sweater in Black ($50, zara.com/us) or A New Day Long Sleeve Crewneck Embellished Pullover Sweater ($35, target.com), and you're ready to party. It will keep you toasty on evenings when the temperature drops. Buy it in a neutral color for maximum versatility and a dressier look. The extra gift? You don't even need jewelry. You'll look fancy enough.
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PHOTO BY: Eloquii, Gap, Eloquii
5. The hide-and-peek sweater. Sorry, but we're not going sleeveless or baring our legs in winter, and a cleavage show is tacky. When you want to look glam or subtly sexy, choose a long sleeve sweater that reveals strategic slices of skin. Shoulder barers like the Eloquii Cold Shoulder Sweater ($70, eloquii.com) and Gap Off-Shoulder Sweater ($70, gap.com) or a necklace style like the Eloquii Cutout Necklace Sweater ($70, eloquii.com) layer easily under winter coats and keep you comfortably sizzling on snowy nights. Wear it now — and then again for New Year's Eve.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3), Eloquii
6. Puffy sleeves. Sweaters with sleeves that billow like the Eloquii Puff Sleeve Peplum Sweater ($70, eloquii.com) make a real fashion statement but are also pretty practical. A dramatic balloon sleeve like the Prologue Plus-Size Long Sleeve V-neck Wrap Pullover Sweater ($30, target.com) can stylishly camouflage soft, saggy upper arms. Shoulder puffs like the Who What Wear Women's Puff Long Sleeve Cardigan ($33, target.com) play up the shoulder line (the way shoulder pads used to do) and payoff by balancing any extra width below the waist. Puffs at the wrists like Ava & Viv Plus-Size Turtleneck Pullover Sweater ($35, target.com) call attention straight to your bracelets, rings and perfect manicure. Who couldn't use all three?
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy, Mango, Gap
7. The wider V-neck sweater. A V-neck is a reliable body booster, so take advantage of the current sweater trend for even wider Vs like the Old Navy Rib-Knit V-Neck Sweater for Women ($37, oldnavy.gap.com), Gap Wrap V-Neck Sweater ($80, gap.com) and Mango V-Neckline Sweater ($60, shop.mango.com). They're pure fashion magic as is, so resist filling in the helpful inverted triangle with an underlayer of tees, scarves or necklaces. The broader — not deeper — V elongates your neck, visually separates your breasts (so they don't take over your middle) and balances hips and thighs in one simple detail. Count on it when you need body confidence at brunch or family get-togethers.
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PHOTO BY: H&M, Mango, Zara, Boden
8. The refined sweater. A semifitted tie sweater — like the Eloquii Tie Neck Sweater ($60, eloquii.com) and Mango Bow Knit Sweater ($50, shop.mango.com) — or a button trimmed crew — like the Zara Ribbed Sweater with Buttons ($36, zara.com/us), H&M Ribbed Sweater ($35, www.2hm.com) and Boden Peggy Sweater ($98, bodenusa.com) — easily stands in for a feminine blouse or blazer. They're perfect to wear with tailored clothes at a holiday business party or work-related events, or any time you want to feel warm but look polished and well-dressed.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy, Mango, Target (2)
9. The winter white sweater. Remember how a crisp white shirt makes you look refreshed and well-rested? A white sweater does the same thing and is a fail-proof solution for the holidays when you really do want to glow. Look for body-flattering side-vented styles like the Lane Bryant Eyelash Pullover Sweater in Cream ($60, lane bryant.com), Prologue Long Sleeve Crewneck Cable-Knit Pullover Sweater in Cream ($38,target.com), Mango Chunky Knit Sweater in Ecru ($50, shop.mango.com) and Old Navy Shaker Stitch Pullover Hoodie for Women in Cream ($50, oldnavy.gap.com) with some texture — from pebbly to fuzzy, ribs to cables — to keep a white sweater looking luxurious and rich. Just watch that red wine!
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PHOTO BY: Gap, Target (2)
10. The sweater tunic. These are really extended sweaters amped up by sleeker lines and a contemporary fit, thanks to those all-important side vents, like the Gap True Soft Textured Crewneck Tunic Sweater ($70, gap.com), Universal Thread Plus-Size Long Sleeve Turtleneck Color block Tunic Sweater ($33, target.com) and Old Navy Rib-Knit Plus-Size V-Neck Tunic ($38, oldnavy.gap.com). Tunic-length sweaters that skim over belly, hips and tops of thighs solve the holiday weight-gain issue and let you enjoy the moment ... and eat.
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PHOTO BY: Target (4)
11. The little black sweater dress. When you're ready to ditch the jeans and ankle pants, nothing is easier than a black sweater dress that truly dresses up or down and keeps you comfy but chic. Now you can find the same style details — like a midi or knee length, puff or 3/4 sleeves, and necklines from turtles to wide Vs to crews. Unlike its predecessors, these are lightweight and relaxed in fit — so Spanx are welcome but not necessary. For a runway-worthy look, try the Prologue Long Sleeve Rib Knit Mock Turtleneck Midi Dress ($40, target.com), the Who What Wear Puff Long Sleeve High Neck Sweater Dress ($40, target.com) or the Ava & Viv Plus-Size Long Sleeve V-neck Sweater Dress ($33, target.com). Slip on some tights and booties or knee-high boots or even some heels, and grab your coat!
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50-plus, check out The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson and Sandy Linter.
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