There are few outfit combinations as classically fall as a skirt and sweater. However, unlike other much-loved seasonal pairings, styling a skirt-and-sweater outfit takes some careful consideration. Unless you’re tossing on a matching set, you’ve got proportion, color-matching (or intentional clashing), and fit concerns to contend with, and that’s all before you decide whether or not to throw tights into the mix. Luckily, InStyle tapped fashion designers and experts to break down the art of nailing this fall fashion trend.
What Skirts and Sweaters Go Together
Our experts agree that there are three styles of sweaters that play nicely with skirts:
Cropped sweaters: Cropped silhouettes are a great choice for high-waisted skirts, regardless of hemline. Because there’s no need to tuck in a cropped sweater, they’re also an ideal option for snug-fitting skirts.
Oversized sweaters: Oversized sweaters are another standout when paired with skirts. "I always love the miniskirt with an oversized sweater look — it looks chic and I love the heaviness up top and a lighter balance at the bottom," says Rema Sweis of clothing brand AKIRA.
Cardigans: Last but not least, cardigans, worn loose or tucked in, are a surefire way to elevate any skirt sweater look.
How to Wear Skirts with Sweaters
There are three go-to ways to style sweaters with skirts. If you've got a longer sweater, let it go freely and wear it entirely untucked. For bulkier sweaters as well as those that are, in fact, longer than your skirt, go for a half-tucked, casual look. Finally, for a more streamlined look, fully tuck in your sweater. A full-tuck approach works just as well on cardigans as it does with pullover sweaters, so don't shy away from tucking a button-up into your skirt of choice.
Ahead, we break down the 15 best sweater skirt outfits for fall according to fashion experts, featuring street style stars.
Keep Proportion in Mind
While fashion rules are made to be broken, our experts have a few they swear by in their personal lives. "The most important rule that I generally refer to when putting together a sweater and skirt outfit is that you don't want to have both a tight-fitting sweater and a tight-fitting skirt on at the same time," says Lisa Maree, CEO and Designer of Lisa Maree. Instead, go for a more voluminous sweater with a tighter skirt, or vice versa.
Sync Up Textures
One way to create a stellar skirt-and-sweater outfit is to combine separates that share textures. Sticking to a similar or complementary color scheme, look for pieces that have a unique feel, like a cozy waffle, honeycomb, or fuzzy knit.
Wear It Over Your Shoulders
Cold girlies, unite. "Even if it is as simple as tying around your shoulders, a sweater is always stylish and handy," shares Diana LoMonaco, founder of Classic Six. Instead of putting your sweater on, go for a preppy vibe with a tennis skirt and a sweater knotted over your shoulders, or opt for a '90s feel with a denim miniskirt and a sweater knotted at your waist.
Pair Structured and Soft Separates
Skirts and sweater outfits lend themselves to matching pieces, but you shouldn't sleep on the power of a great fashion remix. A soft, ruffled sweater paired with a structured miniskirt and rugged combat boots creates a high-fashion effect. Worried about your look not "going together?" Don't! "Although it's not 'traditional' styling, the juxtaposition of pieces can be a great look," says Sweis.
Mix in a Denim Maxi Skirt
"The maxi denim skirt is back, and back with a vengeance," says Maree. The coverage offered by a longer denim skirt hemline makes it a great choice for colder temps, but this sweater skirt outfit is equal parts form and function. "Pairing denim with a sweater can create a laid-back edgy look that will keep you both warm and comfy," Maree adds.
Create a Mirrored Silhouette
Mirroring the silhouettes of separate pieces is a great way to create cohesion in your outfit, especially if you love bold style statements. The plume of a full miniskirt mirrors the dramatic shape of an exaggerated turtleneck, making the look feel thoughtful, even if the colors in question aren't necessarily connected.
Center a Bold Print
Stuck on how to build a sweater skirt outfit out of clothes you already have on hand? We recommend using a vibrant printed skirt as your starting point and selecting your sweater, accessories, and footwear from within the print's color palette. A skirt with a lot of movement or texture will do the most when it comes to bringing the whole look together.
Pair Long Sleeves with Short Skirts
"If you are going mini, I love a long sleeve top," says LoMonaco, who also points out you can flip and reverse this approach if you prefer to show more skin on top. Which brings us to...
Show a Slice of Skin
You don't always have to err towards a tucked-in or half-tucked sweater, nor do your sweater and skirt have to meet in the middle. "If you are going longer [with your skirt], showing a little more skin on top is a good proportion play," says LoMonaco.
Add a Single Accent Color
Because skirts and sweaters work so well together, they tend to look exceptionally stylish when worn in a monochromatic color palette, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to solids. A printed sweater worn with a solid skirt and a pop of contrast courtesy of a statement mini-bag and coordinated heels looks put-together without looking too homogenous.
Throw It Back with a Turtleneck
As trends from the '90s and early aughts return to the front and center of fashion trends, the major cultural icons of yesteryear can be a major source of sweater-skirt outfit idea inspo. Case in point? Jennifer Aniston a.k.a. Rachel Green of Friends. Specifically, her iconic plaid skirt and long-sleeve turtleneck top look. "We can agree that it's timeless and the epitome of cool-girl chic," says Sweis.
Add an Edge with Trendy Shoes
"I'm loving a lug loafer or boot at the moment," says LoMonaco, "It adds a trendy pop to a classic sweater-skirt combo." To draw the eye to a loafer or other eye-catching footwear, opt for a long skirt that stops just above the ankle.
Soften a Statement Skirt
If you've got a hard-to-match statement skirt you've been dying to wear, adding a soft sweater is definitely the way to go. Stick to a similar color family or add a neutral sweater and matching accessories to bring the look together.
Find Your Flow
If you prefer loose-fitting clothing, go for a flowy silhouette — rather than anything overly boxy. Try a swishy skirt featuring pleats and an oversized sweater.
Try a Totally '90s Vibe
Plaid skirts look great with sweaters, regardless of your personal style or aesthetic. Go preppy with a cable-knit cardigan or take a walk on the punk-rock side with an abstract fuzzy sweater and edgy accessories.
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