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Manolo Blahnik leopard print pony hair boots, Hermes collier de chien bangle (all own)

Knit dresses are perennial trend and among winter style favorites in cold climate regions. Unfortunately, they are tricky to wear with natural menopausal body changes. This guide covers multiple ideas and tips on how to wear knit dresses over 40, what to look for in a knit dress as well as what to avoid when jumping the bandwagon on this trend.



Updated: 12/2022

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Knit Dresses Are Having a Moment

When you are a regular reader, you may have seen how I wear my knit dress over 50. Are you in love with that knit dress in the window for 60% off and torn whether or not to get it? Your little angel tells you “knit dresses are a classic, go for it, beauty.” However, the little devil in your head tells you “a knit dress can be tricky even when you are slim.” Your angel reminds you that your criterion to buy is to come up with three looks with the knit dress. The little devil may go on and on. Like not every trend is for everybody. Or that 50% off is not a good deal.


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What to Look for When Buying a Knit-Dress

To find the perfect knit dress make sure to keep the following tips in mind before you hand over your credit card.


  1. It is very important that the knit dress has enough ease to not look like a sausage on two legs. You should be able to gather half an inch (1.3 cm) of fabric without that the knit stretches. Since the fabric is doubled when you do this, it means you need at least an inch of ease. The ease allows the knit dress to flow over your body. This means it hugs your body rather than being body-conscious. Any more would look bulky, and you would look heavier than you actually are.
  2. The length should be long enough that it is clear that you did not forget to put your jeans on. It should be short enough to not look like an Old Lady. This means the hem should hit anywhere above or around the knee, but not higher than two hands wide above your knee. The one in the photo is the absolute shortest I would go. As you see it is 2 inches (5 cm) longer than the tip of my hands.
  3. Go for a classic slightly tailored at the waist cut.
  4. Buy the highest quality you can afford. Merino wool, cashmere or blends with these yarns look polished and sophisticated.
  5. When you go for a knit (read not fine jersey), a solid color is a Must except for a weekend piece.


fashion blogger in white dress with brown accessories

stilist in winterwhite rib kinit midi dress with beret
Gucci G belt, GNW tights, Fendi booties, smoky quartz pendent necklace, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Söfft shearling buckle booties, LeatherCoatsEtc beret, and rib dress c/o Femme Luxe


Shapewear Is a Must

Now the bad news. When the dress is body conscious, wearing at least a shapewear slip is inevitable. A loose version like the teal dress can work without. My arsenal of shapewear has grown over the last decade or so. And I love the feeling of pressure and being in control. However, I know, many women just plain hate that feeling. If so, go for a more relaxed style. Nevertheless, to avoid clinching wear a slip underneath. More on slips.


Best Tips How to Style a Knit Dress

To look stylish and polished try the following:


  1. Go for a vertical ribbed pattern to create a slimming effect. Vertical lines lead the eyes up-and-down giving the illusion of height.
  2. Try a monochromatic outfit for looking taller than you are.
  3. The dark colors of your palette have a slimming effect. Therefore, avoid pastels, light colors or red when you can’t afford the illusion of extra weight these colors add.
  4. Yes, there are underwear issues to consider. No VPL (visible panty line). Wear laser-cut briefs with gel line instead of rubber bands.
  5. Wear the right shapewear underneath. Go for a shapewear slip with gel on the hem. They do not ride up. A shapewear slip has the advantage that you avoid awkward lines where shapewear separates would meet. The ones with built-in cups are best. When you can’t get a shapewear slip with built-in bra, go for a bra with wide band and straps to avoid cut-in.


influencer in teal dress with pendant belt
Judith Leiber gemstone pendant belt, DIP teal sweater dress, GNW leopard print tights, Fendi booties



Accessories and Matching with Other Attire

  1. Accessorize wisely. A little heel is fine, too high heels enter Pretty Woman territory, too flat heels come across too young/girly (read sweet little 16). Add professional looking jewelry like, for instance, pearls. This means stay away from glam, flashy, and too sparkly. Try accessorizing with a belt for shape.
    Kieselstein Cord belt and Collier de Chien bracelet
    Barbour cable knit dress accessorized with a Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Hermes collier de chien leather band bracelet and bangle and Festina watch


  2. A long cardigan, tailored leather motorcycle jacket, denim jacket or blazer and/or belt are nice grownup stylish additions too (see photos).
  3. Add a brooch or statement belt instead of a necklace. More on accessorizing with brooches.
  4. Wear shorter than 4 inches (10 cm) above the knee knit dresses with leggings on the weekend (see striped dress).
  5. Try a straight skirt underneath for a sophisticated work look (see photo with the pink sweater dress, burgundy skirt). The dress-over-skirt look is a chic layering trick to create cold wet weather outfits, while staying comfortable when you wait for a bus.


fashion blogger in below the knee sweater, gemstone belt, leopard print boots, black tights
Rebecca Collins gemstone belt, DIP sweater dress, HIPSTK opaque tights, Manolo Blahnik leopard print pony hair boots, Hermes collier de chien bangle



Knit-Dress Outfit Ideas

Below are some inspirations how an over 40 years old can wear the trend without looking like trying too hard or not trying at all. Full disclosure, I am 60 years old. When I can do it, you can do it too.


Nicole of High Latitude Style featuring Femme Luxe's Penelope sweater midi knit dress
GNW purple tights, Söfft shearling buckle booties, unbranded belt, Heide Ara buckle, amethyst earrings, and Penelope sweater dress c/o Femme Luxe


fashion blogger demonstrating how to wear knit dress over a sheath
Vince Camuto suede tall boots with golden chains, GNW tights, GNW scarf knotted in a European loop, gemstone statement necklace, Calvin Klein sheath, Hermes collier de chien bangle, DIY bangle with quartz crystal, and garment c/o Femme Luxe (review of this knit dress)



How to Wear a Knit Dress in Frigid Cold Weather

The outfit below shows what I wore when it was -49F (-45oC) at night! To stay warm I wore underwear (bra, cami, long sleeve T-shirt, slip, undies), two pairs of tights, and socks in the boots. The boots have an insulation insole. More on how to avoid cold feet at frigid temperatures.


stylist in in ribbed knit dress outfit inspiration
Silk neckerchief, suede statement belt, Modalo Pippa bag, Vince Camuto boots, tight c/o No nonsense, and gray ribbed knit dress c/o AMICLUBWEAR


Insulation Is Key

The ribs of this gray sweater dress nicely hold air. Thin air layers or air pockets are a great insulation. Together the layering of clothes and the thin air pockets of the ribbed dress provide good insulation. This insulation permitted us taking the outfit photos without me catching a cold or feeling uncomfortable. More on how to look great in the bitter cold of Alaska in the January lookbook.


Fun fact about taking the above photo: My photographer wore thermo-pants over jeans (invisible) and a down coat over several layers of shirts. He got cold fingers holding the camera. He also tried to finish the shoots in short time. I was outside in this outfit for less than three minutes. Taking outfit photos challenging in the Arctic in the deepest of winter for various reasons.


While you can create (invisible) insulation by multiple pieces of underwear, you also can create great winter style layering looks as well.



How to Get more Wear out of a Knit Dress

Today’s post belongs to the series on how to get more wear from your wardrobe. It addresses how to wear a dress multiple ways. To get their price worth of wear from any wardrobe additions, think about which new outfits the “potential” piece will bring to your wardrobe.

Think of them as a potential top or bottom. It’s so yesterdecade to wear your dress just one way and only as a dress. In this post, I illustrate the concept for you and hopefully inspire you to embrace the idea.


Who does want to repeat the same look again and again?

Here three tips of more possibilities how to switch things up with a knit dress.


Wear It as a Long, Oversized Sweater

The following idea shows an example of styling the knit sweater-dress as an oversized long sweater over a mesh dress and leggings. Any see-thru skirt or dress may work. Just make sure the leggings pick up the color of the see-thru piece to not look shorter than you actually are. Add a belt that works for your body type for shape. See which belt is best for your body shape.


details of labradorite and pearls belt, mesh slip, sweater dress
Details of the mesh skirt and belt from the look described below



style book author in casual leggings sweater pink and black look
Labradorite and pearls belt, unbranded mesh slip, GNW tights, Salamander shearling booties and sweater dress c/o Femme Luxe



Style It as a Maxi Dress

The following look is inspired by the drop-waist style of last century’s Roaring Twenties. Try a tulle or lace skirt underneath your knit dress. Stay with the color theme for best results. Avoid a too large contrast.

over 50 years old fashion blogger in knit dress over tulle skirt with tall boots
Back view of 1920s style inspired outfit described below.


Nicole of High Latitude Style in dropped waist skirt, top, belt, tall embellished heels boots
Rebecca Collins belt, DIY brooch, Festina watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Taylor’s Gold’n Stone ice cube quartz earrings, upcycled tall boots, tulle skirt c/o Lookbook Store and knit dress c/o Femme Luxe



Give the Illusion of a Mixed Fabrics Attire

Try a slightly longer sheath under the knit-dress in a matching color. Choose a color hat it’s believable that they belong to the same piece. Going for a  monochromatic look is the easiest way to create the illusion of a mixed fabrics piece. Or go with the same color family, one piece in a pastel version of the other like in the example below.



Alaskan blogger in dress over dress outfit with tall boots, tights, scarf
Vince Camuto suede tall boots with chain detail, GNW tights, GNW scarf knotted in a European loop, gemstone statement necklace, Calvin Klein sheath, Hermes collier de chien bangle, DIY bangle, and jumper c/o Femme Luxe



Other Ideas to Wear a Sweater Dress

Try it with skinnies, leggings or as a mini dress with opaque tights for the weekend. More on how to look ageless in knits.


Add a Scarf and Patterned Tights

fashion blogger over 50 in sweater dress with booties dress
Anne Klein scarf, statement belt, polka dot tight (all own), knit dress c/o Amiclubwear and Musse & Cloud booties c/o Coolway


What about Styling a Monochromatic Look?

stylist wearing a blue dress, boots, belt, statement necklace and floral scarf holding MessyWeekend sunglasses
Sunnies c/o MessyWeekend, unbranded silk scarf, Diane von Fürstenberg knit dress, Gucci scarf, statement necklace, topaz earrings, L.K. Bennett tall boots, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Festina watch and Prada bag


Wear a Striped Sleeveless Jumper with Items in the Color of the Stripes

fashion blogger showing how to wear a sleeveless striped knit dress with layering top, tights and pink pumps
Missoni dress, Dagwood flower beaded necklace, DIY cuff, Hermes collier de chien bangle, tights c/o Hipstik Legwear, layering top c/o Cami Confidential, and Ivanka Trump pink suede pumps


Wear a Mini Dress with Leggings

older influencer in black red green white striped dress
Zaful black, red, green, white striped mini dress, leggings, red with white dots Keds, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Notations white and black striped cardigan, Hermes red Constance bag, beaded necklace, and bracelet c/o Lizzy James


Go for a Desaturated Look

stylist illustrating how to wear a knit dress in a blush as a desaturated color look
Pink knit jumper c/o Femme Luxe, silver belt, GNW tight, Max Mara boots, unbranded scarf, DIY bangle with quartz


Layer a T-shirt under a V-Neck Dress

style blogger showing how to wear a knit dress in red layering top
Vince Camuto slouchy suede boots, statement belt, DIY earrings, layering top, J. Peterman dress and tights c/o Hipstik


Stylist’s tip: Try analogous colors or color blocking.



When to Kiss the Knit-dress Trend Off

If you are not willing to commit to the above points, kiss this trend off. This means just don’t buy a knit dress. It will just take up real estate in your closet. You will not get enough wear for your money when you feel uncomfortable in the piece. If you are willing to commit, I bet you will be sad when the trend is over. But then you still can wear it under a skirt or with skinnies. Thus, you will get you money worth in wear even when the trend ins’t a trend anymore next fall. There is a lot of other cozy warm knitwear. See this guide for tips how to look ageless in knits.

Are you temped by the knit-dress trend? In your opinion, are they a Yay or Nay in fashion over 40? When you are in the market for a sweater dress and are worried about the illusion of more weight black could be an option for you. Black namely has a slimming effect. More in my review of a Femme Luxe black jumper dress.


Wrapping Up How to Wear a Knit Dress at Any Age

Knits are tricky to wear in midlife. Looking great in a knit dress over 40 requires good choices on all levels. When you want to save money on and/or slow your fashion consumption down, buy a workhorse. Also have at least three looks in mind before handing over your credit card to the cashier or hitting the buy button.


Photos: G. Kramm

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