What is a Sweater Dress?

Sheri Cyprus

A sweater dress is basically a longer version of a pullover knitted sweater. Sweater dresses are sold in different lengths, from thigh length to close to the ankle. Longer sweater dresses aren't as common as the shorter styles, however. The most common sweater style dress ends just at the knee; this versatile length flatters all figure types. The sweater dress is a cold weather winter garment that can be worn in many different ways.

Pantyhose are a fashion essential with sweater dresses.
Pantyhose are a fashion essential with sweater dresses.

Sweater dresses worn over boots are a classic look. The great thing about coordinating boots with a sweater dress is that really, anything goes — these dresses look good with any length of boot. Ankle length boots worn with a shorter sweater style dress and textured tights can look fun and funky. Boots and a sweater-type of dress, both about knee length, can give the wearer an elegant appearance. A sweater dress can also be topped with a shorter or longer coat.

The typical sweater dress looks like a longer version of a pullover sweater.
The typical sweater dress looks like a longer version of a pullover sweater.

The styles of sweater dresses are as varied as those of sweaters. For instance, the neckline of a sweater dress may be V-shaped, square, turtle, cowl, or many other possibilities. Colors, fabrics, and prices also vary. A sweater-style dress may be an inexpensive acrylic with a loose fit, or it may be a slim fitting cashmere designer garment. Sweater dresses may have a rib knitted design, or feature twisted cables, or they may be of a flat textured knit.

Different accessories can change the look of the same sweater-type dress. For example, a black sweater dress that's not too tight can be worn just about anywhere in the winter. For an office work look, it can be paired with a suit jacket, tights, boots, and a long necklace or belt. Women with a narrow waist can add a belt at the waistline of a sweater dress to accentuate that area, while those with trim hips can accent them with a hip belt slung low. Adding glittering jewelry and a sparkling belt, along with nylons and high heeled shoes, can transform the black dress into winter evening wear.

While most sweater dresses are bought ready-made, there are patterns available for knitting them. Some sweater dresses feature hoods and front pockets, and/or a self-tie belt. Many sweater dresses have long sleeves with ribbed cuffs, but a short or three-quarter length sleeve is also popular. Instead of nylons or tights, a sweater dress may also be worn with leggings.

Knitting patterns for sweater dresses can be found online.
Knitting patterns for sweater dresses can be found online.

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Discussion Comments


I like to shop for vintage clothes and I have actually come across really nice vintage sweater dresses. I have a pretty good collection right now and I've realized that each makes me look a little different.

Some of them are tighter and fit me like a glove. I like to wear these with leggings same color as my shoes and a nice hat to go with it.

I only wear boots with sweater dresses that are bit more loose fitting.

Oh and if you buy a sweater dress that is tighter fitting around the shoulders and chest but looser on the waist area, it's a great way to hide any extra pounds you gained during the holiday season. It instantly makes you look thinner.


I love wearing sweater dresses, they look so nice and they are really comfortable. My favorite one is purple and has short sleeves. I wear a long shirt inside and tights that match in color with this shirt, plus long knee-length boots.

It looks so cute! I always prefer to wear dresses because it looks very feminine and defines the body shape more. Sweater dresses are best in winter because they keep warm too.

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