Want to feel cosy, comfortable and a little bit French? Try a sweater dress - The Guardian

1 month ago 31

Every time I wear a sweater dress I wonder why I ever wear anything else. There is actually no better autumn outfit. The judge’s decision is final and she will be taking no further questions at this time. In a sweater dress I feel slightly mysterious, possibly a little bit French. Which is miraculous, since I have absolutely zero mystique and am not remotely French. Nonetheless, in a sweater dress I somehow feel as if I might be on my way to eat a chic solo dinner while reading a novel in a neighbourhood bistro, before strolling home, probably shoulder-robing a trench coat, under softly glowing streetlights. I fancy myself the kind of person who makes occasional pithy contributions to conversation, rather than the witterer-on that I really am. The type of woman who has excellent posture and a collection of interesting ceramics.

But most of all, I feel really comfy. As comfy as I do in a tracksuit – more, in fact. Is it too soon to speak ill of the tracksuit – the nun’s habit of lockdown? It’s beginning to feel like a hangover from too much time at home. Stockholm syndrome, the fashion edition.

It still feels vaguely blasphemous to raise the point that loungewear is not exactly an aesthetic delight, except perhaps on Hailey Bieber, but perhaps it is time to gently break free. To think for ourselves again even, rather than wearing the same thing as everyone else on your Zoom screen. Comfort is paramount, yes, but it isn’t just about an elasticated waist. I’d hazard a guess that I am not alone among grown women in that I feel more confident – and as a result more relaxed – in a sweater dress than in a tracksuit.

If there is a catch to the sweater dress, it is the danger of overheating. Those super-luxe, extra-thick, roll-neck styles should be resisted. The kind of sweater dresses that star in movies and glossy magazines tend to be the exaggerated, indulgently fluffy ones which frame your face with their supersize funnel necklines and radiate glamorous après-ski vibes until your cheeks go red and your hair starts to cling damply to your scalp. Cosy is good – especially now, when outdoor terraces and open windows are part of the social landscape – but feeling as if you’ve been sewn into a blanket isn’t. Better to go lightweight, and layer up the thermals when temperatures drop.

My favourite knit dress is one I bought from a Jil Sander Uniqlo collection. (Every piece I have from those collections is a treasure, FYI.) In lightweight merino wool, it is ribbed – ribbed knit being bodycon for those of us who feel their Lycra days are behind them – and easy to dress up or down. Blazer and chunky biker boots for daytime; a tangle of gold chains and a sandal for dinner. It pings satisfyingly back into shape with a 30C machine wash, but were I in the market for a new purchase this season, I’d be off to Cos or & Other Stories.

But really, you should take my word for it. Because a woman in a sweater dress is always worth listening to.

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