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Anyone Else Thinking Sweater Dresses For Fall?

See those motorcycle boot? Those Fiorentini and Baker “Elis,” to be precise? I own a pair. Surprised? Me too. They were a generous and creative present. Unfortunately, I’ve owned them for nigh on a year and haven’t worn them once.


Here’s the story. They don’t work under bootcut cords or jeans. Too clompy. So I tried on skinny jeans. Let me say this once and for all.

I. Can’t. Wear. Skinny. Jeans. Or cords, for that matter.

It’s not about my weight, or the brand of jeans. Trust me. It’s about my shape. The widest part of my body is my upper thighs, and since I’m long-waisted, this wide part occurs pretty close to my knees, producing a silhouette that isn’t my favorite.  In order to wear skinny jeans happily, I’d need a top long enough to cover my upper thighs, and at that point I might as well wear a dress, and at that point why not just wear warm tights?

But I refuse to give up on the boots. Moto-anything makes Sturdy Gals feel cool and tough. Which we quite like. Being prone to toughness whether we like it or not, we’d love to add a little cool whenever possible. Enter my new strategy – sweater dress and tights. Not terribly inventive, but a new to me.

I doubt Aunt Priscilla ever wore a dress with boots.

Of course, this strategy is still theoretical, i.e. in the “troll Internet-land for appropriate images” kind of way. All I’ve ascertained to date is that I think I need the heft of a sweater, vs. any other sort of dress, to balance the boot’s weight.

Behold a few candidates. Feel free to weigh in. We can try the name designers. I give Theyskens a big plus for the turtleneck,  a minus on the mini. I like ice skating about as much as I like to put my feet into ice water and hit them with a large iron hammer, so I don’t care to dress like a skater, thank you very much.

We can see what the French have to offer. Bompard makes this cashmere v-neck in several colors.

We can hie after Scottish aristocracy with Johnstons of Elgin, via Tabitha. Big plus for silk and cashmere, but perhaps both too long and too flared. I’m trying to de-proper, rather than re-proper myself.

We can try the mid-market. Zara gets a big plus for cable knit, as said texture distracts from chocolate induced belly bits, but a caveat on the fabric. Acrylic, seriously? What was wrong with cotton and rayon, for example?

And finally, we can source the mass market. Old Navy gets a big plus for styling, along with concerns for how long this might last. I prefer to own my clothing for more than one season.

I do believe if Bompard made theirs in a cable knit, I’d be finished the search, and on to tearing up the streets of San Francisco. As only old ladies in moto boots can.

Theyskens Theory
Eric Bompard
Johnstons of Elgin
Old Navy

58 Responses

  1. I wear my black moto boots the most with a black sort of asymmetrical skirt, black tights, and then vary the tops.

    Of the sweater dresses, I do like the Bompard the most – what color would you get?

    1. Love Kathy’s idea of the asymetrical skirt and tights with ??? top. Like the flirty way that the skrts contrasts with the boots. I do not see you as a “biker Babe.” I do see you as stylish as all get out. I think I remember seeing Kate Middleton’s mom in a pair of boots that had a biker aesthetic to them and was surprised.

    2. I’m thinking gray. I have a vision in which the boots are artsy, iconoclastic, but not quite “biker.” I could be wrong.

  2. *gasp* I WANT those boots. They will be perfect for our snowy, cold, slushy winters, and you’re right – they are cool. And hip.

    As for a sweater dress, I don’t know about those, but I think you’ve convinced me to see how I’d do in a very long sweater and some thick, warm leggings. What have you done to me??

  3. Synchronicity! I’m just debating wearing a sweater dress and boots today, trying to figure out where the institutional thermostats are at with the transitional weather . . . Enjoy your search! Those boots deserve to be worn.

  4. I think that boot cut pants need medium to clompy shoes/boots. Narrow or delicate shoes look terrible with them. I also think that sweater dresses (or knit dresses of any kind) are not flattering on most people, including people with even a hint of hips. But, if you can wear them, you should.

    1. I can do medium with boot cuts, but this clompy and the low heel don’t work for me. See, I think cowboy boots, unsurprisingly, are perfect with boot cut jeans:).

  5. I just can’t embrace chunky ankle boots with dresses. I know it is all the rage, but I’m not on board with this. Stovepipe Naked and Famous jeans stacked nicely on those boots would be lovely though. Schlumpy. In a good way.

    1. Well I’ve recruited my Artsy brother to come with me to Self Edge in the Mission. We shall see.

  6. i spend my days with models on go-sees and fittings, and even they look awkward in sweater dresses. a wool shirtdress, if you must. or straight-up wool dresses. sweaters should know what’s good for ’em and end at the torso.

  7. I have been dreaming of a heavy weight grey sweater dress for a few seasons, but can’t find one that flatters my overly broad hips, everything I’ve found has been straight cut. The flared ones look like they’d be much better on me. Definitely with tights, though! Maybe even calf high boots for me, if it doesn’t look too mod when I’m done.

  8. Love the sweater tights and moto boot idea…
    I wear mine with tall boots and feel so ready to seize the day.

    It’s raining cats and dogs here and the wins is a gale…
    wearing boots, tights and tunic top and a vest to keep the chill away.

    Happy shopping!

  9. Have you checked out Peruvian Connection? This, e.g.:

    They have a boutique on Fillmore in SF with very helpful salespeople. And the fabrics are gorgeous. I rarely wear dresses — like you, I’m long-waisted, which rules out most silhouettes — but I’m very happy with the Kasai Dress I discovered at PC.

  10. Lisa,

    Do not care for thos moto boots. I love the idea f the sweater dress ovet the warm leggins and loafers!! Thick sloed loafers… That I thin kis quite cool!


  11. Going against the tide here, but the Johnsons fit and flare dress is perfect for those moto boots. The feminity of the dress balances out the clompiness (in a good way) of the moto boots. I fear in the other dresses, one (anyone) would look shapeless, and perhaps like one was wearing a man’s big sweater and forgot trousers. The moto boots move the Johnson’s dress from proper to witty, edgy, and playful — all of which you clearly are.

    1. I’m with Dorothea and Kathy. The moto boots are gorgeous and will give the dress an edge without making the outfit looking too contrived.

  12. Don´t the sweater dresses stretch in an unpleasant way after wearing, with/ without pants? I´d hate to wear a baggy, stretched thingy on me.
    Therefore, I prefer my knitwear to be of classic length.
    Not liking motorcycle boots at all. They look clumsy.
    Motorcycle boots for those who motorcycle.

  13. I just saw a girl wearing a red cable-knit sweater dress yesterday with tall rubber rain boots (it was pouring here) and she looked great!

    Also: I hear ya on the boots-jeans conundrum. What about straight-leg jeans (somewhere in between the wide and skinny) and tucking them in? That’s actually what I’m doing today with my boots!

  14. The boots are 100% fabulous, and a sweater dress (plain) with coloured tights and such boots is one of my old reliable daily ensembles. I look forward to seeing you in whatever outfit you assemble.

  15. Eileen Fisher makes some nice sweater dresses, not too fussy. No cable knits, though. (Check out both their site and Neiman’s for good selections.) I think you’d rock those boots with a sweater dress…good choice!

  16. Everyone from London to rural parts of the UK are tramping around in biker ‘boys’ boots (my term for them),with dresses,short leather pants,jeans urgggh!

    Sweater dresses look best on slender figures,even then they seem to bag out round the hips.Ida

  17. I wear short boots with rolled up jeans or khakis. I would feel very Peter Pan-ish with short boots and tights.

  18. Nothing brilliant to contribute, just lavishing in the joys of being a silver haired old lady in purples and moto boots. Grand, isn’t it :)

  19. Yes! I have been on a sweater dress hunt for the same reasons you list (long waist, wide at upper thigh- only I have the added frustration of very short legs)so my skinny jeans only get worn with boots and my long cardigan coats. I’m considering wearing the sweater dress as a tunic with skinny jeans. Since most of them are too short for me to feel comfortable in, even in tights, I feel like combining these two trends might work. Two wrongs might make a right?
    Oh- and thanks for the Doc Marten rec. I am smitten, but I don’t know why.

  20. Lucky jeans, Sweet and Straight style. Try on a pair. I tuck mine into Hunters and it all looks good.

    You never know till you try.

    I’m loving those boots. Are they easier on the feet than Fryes?

    xo jane

  21. I want to like sweater dresses. I really do. But every time I try them on I’m disappointed. However I’ve yet to come across a sweater dress with a slightly flared skirt before. I really must look for those!

  22. I like the boots and I like some of the sweater dresses.

    In my experience when I have something I’ve never worn and I start buying other things to go with it’s not a good omen.

    Hopefully you’ll have a better experience. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  23. I have a similar pair of boots (Miu Miu) and am of similar age. I used to wear them under boot cuts but that was 10 years ago as these boots are still going strong. Still would work for casual. One of my most successful outfits with the boots is an Esprit wool, well looks like wool dress. Amazing price point as it is lined. No cling. Cowl neck, small short sleeve and straight cut. I have worn a cropped leather jacket with only a nod to moto over and received compliments from people who I trust on fashion statements. I also wear them with James Jeans which are the only skinnies I have found that they tame my figure issues that sound a little like yours. I usually throw a blazer over this (long one) or a 3/4 length light coat if I am doing errands and don’t have to remove the coat to show my thighs. I hear you on this. Sweater dress would be challenging for sure. Sometimes I look at Net a Porter to see how the boots are styled….
    Look forward to seeing the photos of your looks.

  24. Great boots – hope you get to wear them! I think a looser sweater dress shape is best for this look – it’s more modern, and the nipped-in at the waist styles don’t quite feel right.

  25. Fab boots – I have some similar ones but a little higher (not the heel but the ht of the boot) and I usually wear with skinny jeans but have worn with a dress if I am feeling daring! Been looking at sweater dresses too and I just might indulge. Great post. x

  26. Love the boots, but I can see the difficulty in finding something to wear with them. Do you think a sweater dress will look good after a day at work sitting on it? Have you considered dark tights, dark pencil skirt and something bulky on top to balance the boots? I hear sweater dress and all I can think of is sprung butt! Good luck with this project and please post pictures.

    1. I will post. The boots are just too rough for a pencil skirt. I hope the sitting doesn’t destroy a dress.

  27. I’d order the Bompard to see. The Old Navy is too little-girl, and acrylic is nasty. Love sweater dresses but tend to snag them at the seat or hip, then the whole thing is wrecked. Trashed two that way- c’est assez! Bompard also have a gorgeous cashmere skirt, but it is longer length. Still I think it would look fab with the boots.

  28. Not me — the winters are too warm in Washington DC for the chunky knits, and the thinner knits are too unforgiving on me. But I do like the way they look on other people. I also think that sweater dresses look better on the shorter side (another reason why I won’t wear).

  29. Straight legged jeans work for me. I own something similar. Awesome boots for rainy weather and for comfort. I recent purcahsed a pair of slim cut pants (not quite a legging) pants with a low hip length wrapped shirt to layer over a camisole with a great mid thigh boiled wool jacket, which I think will work well with these boots. The ultimate in comfort and warmth. I also own a pair of wedge booties that are awesome but I think dresses and boots belong to a younger group of women. But everyone should wear what they feel comfortable in. It’s all about individual aesthetics, not “you’re too old for that”. We all have friends, daugthers, and catty co-workers for that. I always ask my 23 year old son and my 17 year old twins sons for mom fashion approval. They usually give me the thumbs up, which means they won’t be embarrassed by my getups and if they say I look cool; then all is right in the world of fashion mom-dom.

  30. oops

    Annette Gortz Flat Knit Dress ag1011
    on the Walkers site, which I didn’t link to correctly.

    Lands End has a knee length merino wool sweater dress with one cable down the center – in red or charcoal. on sale for $50 – can’t get it to link either. It looks too good to be true.

    Women’s Regular Long Sleeve Cable Turtleneck Dress

    Item # 40854-0AE5

    I like the boots. I would prefer them with something not quite so conservative as you are showing. However, that is your look! And your look is great.

  31. The fact that you’ve had the boots so long without wearing says a lot. I actually have a motorcycle license but I wouldn’t wear those boots. I have big feet and think those would make them look even bigger and clunkier. I got Frye’s Melissa Button boots. They make my feet look great, not Herman Munsterish, and they’re comfortable and well made, too.

  32. Hi Lisa,

    I have this exact pair of boots and I’ve found they are awesomest with Boden sweater tunics or sweater dresses and tights/leggings. Please try!

    xo AJ

  33. I second the straight-leg jeans suggestion. They can be a little more forgiving of non toothpick-straight legs!

  34. I just got this sweater dress from Old Navy:

    It does feature a cable knit, if you’re in to cowl necks. It’s super soft and cozy. The ribbed nit at the waist gives it a flattering shape.

    It’s a surprisingly heavy knit, so I haven’t gotten to wear it yet–waiting for the weather to turn colder. Which means I can’t speak to durability at all. But I think there’s something to be said for using cheaper clothing that may not last forever to push one’s personal fashion boundaries. That way, if it turns out after several wearings that I decide it’s not the best trend for me, I’m not out too much and can donate it with a light heart.

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