How to wear the fall trends after 40: bulky knitted sweater

by Sylvia

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It’s always fun to incorporate some of the latest trends into your wardrobe and one of the biggest trends this season is knitted sweaters. Especially big, bulky and oversized sweaters.

I’m happy to join in as I’m planning for a short trip to Europe and am currently curating a beautiful winter capsule wardrobe with knits being a major part of it.

How to wear knitted bulky sweaters?

For a balanced and slim silhouette, it’s good to combine your bulky knits with something structured and slim fitting. I’m going to wear my sweaters with a straight skirt as well with (relaxed) fitting skinny pants.

If your knitted top is short enough, you can also wear it with knee-high or longer a-line skirts and wider trousers. Although mine is not short enough for my fitted A-line skirt, I’m able to tuck it in to still get the effect.

Let’s have a look at a few examples of each.

Knitted bulky tops with straight skirts

knitted sweater with straight skirt |

My favorite look of the season.

Especially trendy are the straight skirts with slits and I love some of the asymmetrical options. My skirt has a slit as well and a color block effect.

Straight skirts can work with shorter as well as longer knitted jumpers. They are also great with asymmetrical knitted jumpers. You could even layer them with a shirt popping out underneath.

The shoe of the season is the bootie and that is my shoe of choice with the skirt. (find some great options here). For more warmth, you can also opt for long boots which are also very hip. You can find a list of some knee-high boots here.

Knitted tops with fitted a-line skirts

knitted jumper with fitted aline skirt |

Knitted tops also look good with fitted A-line skirts.  Those skirts that fit tightly around your hips and then flare out. It’s best to keep the top realtively short here. Asymmetrical tops also work really well.

Again I have opted for both booties as well as long boots to wear with it. Booties are comfortable and keep me warm. Then get some good opaque tights that match the color of your skirt and you are good to go.

Wearing a knitted jumper with skinnies

knitted sweater with skinnies |

Creating a juxtaposition between the bulky and roomy versus the tight and fitted often creates a great look.

Skinnies are an obvious choice for your longer tunic sweaters but you can also create great layered looks. Let a longer shirt peek out underneath your shorter jumper.

You can wear all kinds of shoes with this look. Booties are great, but so are loafer, brogues and pumps.

Other options for wearing a sweater

Of course there are many other ways to wear your sweater but the three options above are the ones that I will apply in my winter wardrobe.

There is just so much variety in the kind of knitted tops you can get this season and you can play with many different kinds of silhouettes.

  • Get a long knitted tunic sweater and wear as a dress over leggings
  • Create a long and sleek silhouette with a long fine knitted top worn over a knitted straight skirt
  • Create a relaxed look by wearing them over relaxed pants.
  • Layer with long vests or shirts
  • Wear a really short knitted top over a (printed) shirt

I selected some clothes based on the inspiration above that you can buy online right now.

Show me how you will wear your knitted tops this season!

The sky is the limit really and I would love to see your creativity! How will you wear your knitted tops this season? What is your favorite silhouette?

You can create your own collages at Then share the link in the comments and I will share your creations in this article as well!

I will show you more of my winter wardrobe next week.

Do you like the knitted sweater trend? How will you wear it this season?


Collages from readers




1 Rita

I think it’s funny when a trend comes around that I embrace every year…that happy accident when I’m actually in style! I don’t wear my sweaters/pullovers/jumpers too bulky…I prefer marino wool for it’s fine weave and will wear cashmere, though I don’t think it is as sturdy and can be more expensive. The style I am seeing in the stores right now is the drop shoulder, where the shoulder seam is 1/3 down the arm. I think that looks ok on super tall, super slim ladies, but not on someone average build and short. It’s a dreadful look on me, so I will stick to the more tailored versions.

2 Lorraine

I have found in recent years that I am not wearing my very thick jumpers/sweaters as much as I used to. If I believed in global warming I would blame that. I also prefer fine knits as they don’t add bulk and look chic with a scarf or necklace. I also saw the dropped shoulder style and last week I bought a pink one. It was only £10 from Primark so I knew if I didn’t love it I wouldn’t have spent too much, but in fact I do like it a lot. It’s slightly longer at the back and covers my derriere, the long zip at the back adds interest and it is fitted but not clingy – result!

3 Rita

The dropped shoulder style you found sounds like it has some nice features. Those I’ve seen are very baggy and nondescript…reminding me of something Olivia Newton John might have worn to an aerobics class. I tried a couple on because I liked the fabric or color, and they just gave me a disheveled, round look. :-/

I agree about finer knits looking more chic and not adding bulk. I’ll wear something chunky if, global warming be damned, it’s freezing outside…LOL!!! If I want to look smart, though, I leave the bulkies in the house.

4 Sylvia

Yes I expect many ladies prefer fine knits. Those are certainly easier to wear. I have embraced the dropped shoulder knit that you described though as I like a challenge and creating a different silhouette!

5 Rita

Would love to see a picture of you in a dropped-shoulder top, Sylvia (and Lorraine, too). 🙂 I just can’t figure out how to make them work.

6 Sylvia

Will do so soon Rita!

7 Lorraine

and me!

8 Kay

The term “jumper” being used to describe a sweater is really confusing to those of us who speak American English. To us, a “jumper” is a sleeveless dress, usually worn with a blouse or tee shirt underneath. A knitted sweater is just that — a sweater!

Just wanted to mention that, because it’s been causing me a lot of confusion and frustration when shopping online.

9 Rita Atkins

There are ladies from all over the world that follow 40+. It is not just an American audience. I think it is pretty cool to learn the clothing vernacular in other countries and fun to be able to speak style with an international twist. I have learned, for example, that I should not go out in public in England wearing just pants! I need to put on trousers as well. I would think most online sites have photos that help a person figure out what’s what.

10 Lorraine

Hahahahahahaha Rita! Yes, please don’t go out in your pants when you are in the UK as you will be arrested for indecent exposure!
Re the sweater/jumper debate, yes we do call woolly knits ‘jumpers’ in the UK but the two terms are fairly interchangeable these days. I am not sure we have a terms for sleeveless dresses (shift dresses?) but sleeveless jumpers are ‘tank tops’.

11 Kay

A sleeveless jumper = tank top… I love it! I was simply trying to point out the differences and you did a great job of showing me another one. I think we use the term “trousers” more in menswear than for women’s clothing. Yep, women just go out in their pants! ;-p (That’s another new one for me!)

12 Kay

@ Rita: It only becomes a problem when I am searching for a “black jumper” and can’t find what I’m looking for on eBay, for example. If I input “black sleeveless dress,” I get all kinds of cocktail dresses or black sweaters. The word “pinafore” is used sometimes, but not very often. I do like learning new terms; I just wanted to point out that the term “jumper” means something different in the U.S., or maybe just in California.

13 Rita

Well, a jumper that you describe isn’t something that you see very often, at least on the US east coast. I see young gals wearing sleeveless/spaghetti strap dresses with tees underneath sometimes. Just goes to show that when shopping, it’s handy to know all the terms for the same thing, epecially if you end up on an international website.

14 Sylvia

Jumper was the word I used initially (which is why the images still use that term) until I realised that my largest audience is from the US and I needed to use sweater instead. It can be confusing sometimes these different terms!

15 Elaine

I will be wearing an assortment of sweaters/jumpers this season because I live in a colder climate and need to stay warm. Thanks for the suggestions for styling them with various skirts and pants. Since I’m petite my longer tunic length pieces are finer knits as mentioned by Rita and I will wear them with skinnies so they don’t overpower me. Bulky styles might work if I wear a slim skirt with matching tights and boots or booties. With pants I’ll have to experiment with wide leg versus skinny jeans to see what looks best.

16 Sylvia

It’s all about creating the right balance in your outfit Elaine so I would definitely try out the slim skirt and booties look and experiment with the pants. It’s fun to create a different silhouette.

17 Terry Murphy

I am short, 5’3″, with short legs and a broad face. Although I am fairly slender, I need to be careful wearing these bulky sweater/jumpers, because there’s a good chance I will come off looking overweight. (I wear a size 6 in dresses and tops, and a size 4 in trousers.) I really don’t enjoy having to plan overly hard to make a look “work” for me. I might just opt for looking a bit dated this fall/winter, rather than purchasing unflattering clothing. At any rate, if I can hold out, odds are that more fitted sweaters/jumpers will be the fashion for the 2015/2016 cold weather seasons.

18 Karen Ratzlaff

I know the feeling Terry! I’m 5’2″ and large chested…bulky sweaters make me look heavy and dumpy…but I love wearing super long cardigans with skinny jeans and boots.

19 Sylvia

There are not only bulky knits in the store Terry. All kinds of knits are available. Perhaps you may want to try a longer fitted tunic type sweater and wear over skinnies? Or layer a very short fitted knit over a blouse with either straight skirt or skinnies.

20 Mat

Like for you, being “fashionable” is not an aim in itself for me. If I nevertheless try to understand the trends, its because I know, by experience, that my taste and judgement will be influenced by them. So I will soon “love” certain clothes and do no more like others. But the overall purpose is still to express my personality, be interesting and agreeable for others to look at, share my creative “inventions” a.s.o. That’s why I would never wear clothes that do not flatter me, just because they are trendy. And I would not recommend that to anybody.
On the other hand, I don’t think that “looking slim” should be the main and only purpose of dressing either. Dressing according to your body-type is the basis – but not a style guide. It would be a pity and very boring to see all us ladies in the perfect slim looking look … and exclude so many options or arty dressing.

21 Mat

Let me just share some experience as an inverted triangle (E-cup!) and short torso type.
1) In general I would say, the longer the “sweater”, the easier the styling. I actually wear mainly mini-dresses with leggings or skinny trousers. Asymetric forms as shown above are ideal, as they make the torso look longer. I still have one or two short sweaters which are real short and very wide, but not very bulky. I wear them as shown above with skirts – wearing them with jeans would feel to “young” to me (I am 57), and it would make my boobs look still bigger.
2) The form can go from real bulky and large sweaters to almost tailored models. My waist being not of the hour glass type ;-), I stay clear of belts. For me, the “hipclinging” sweater style is ideal: wide down to the waist, batwings, and clinging around the hips and tighs.
3) You see more and more sweaters with fronts shorter than the backs. I feel they are not for me, as they can give the impression the “shortness” of the front would come from my figure … this style doesn’t flatter big breasted ladies.
4) I almost always wear (round and not too bulky) shoulder pads with my sweaters and dresses, what might seem kind of counterintuitive … But as a matter of fact, shoulder pads seem to minimize large torsos and even create the illusion of a smaller waist. It might be worth a try …
5) The main point not to look “overwhelmed” by long and large tops, is to show as much defined leg as possible … what means to avoid any kind of large trousers or skirts. (For short large tops, some defined hip can be enough). As I am not specially petite (1m70), I can still wear flats with that, but I imagine smaller ladies could prefer higher heels …

22 Sylvia

Thank you for sharing your excellent tips and personal experience Mat!

23 Greetje Kamminga

Big long sweaters and skinnies…. got that down to a tee. But with skirts… I am hopeless. Presumably because I often think it doesn’t look nice. As I am tall and hardly have any hips I am trying to create a waist or the illusion of one underneath the big sweater.
So far my efforts have been without result. When you are here, you will have to help me (be prepared to hear a lot of whining and rejection).
I have a pretty charcoal A-line skirt which I never use as I cannot style it.
Also, these big sweaters are difficult with big boobs as Mat already explained. I bought a few dangerous ones…. Fortunately nobody is going to believe I am pregnant at my age hahaha.

24 Sylvia

That sounds like a fun challenge. I could bring some of my sweaters too and we can play! I’d love to see you in a straight skirt with booties and a knit possibly layered with a shirt underneath!

25 Mat

Thank you, Sylvia, for the idea of layering. I’ve just been struggling with a neither real short nor real long sweater (that I fell in love with for the colors and the pattern, even though I knew it would be challenging). Reading your reply, I have tried it over a black “mini-dress” (which in fact is no more than a over the knee long t-shirt) – and it works perfect. I will be able to wear it this way with any legging or skinny pant. Great!

26 Mat

pulled something together to give an idea …

27 Sylvia

Thanks Mat. I have added it to the page!

28 Ellen Christian

I love the options you’ve shown with leggings. I need to pick up a few more pair before the really cold weather arrives.

29 Sylvia

Have fun shopping Ellen!

30 Lisa

I love the idea, but I find that I lose my waist with bulky sweaters, and consequently look about 20 pounds heavier. I live in the northern U.S. so I keep some around because sometimes warmth trumps fashion, but I can’t say that I wear them with any idea of looking good!

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