Plain to Polished: How to Liven Up a Boring Sweater

How to Liven Up a Boring Sweater Tips

Does it catch anyone else kinda off guard that as winter passes, we are still not done with sweater weather? I don’t know about you, but I still wear plenty of sweaters (and sweatshirts, let’s be honest, haha!) in the spring since it’s still not usually super warm until much later into the season! So, today I have another Plain to Polished post for you, and we’re going to talk about how to liven up a boring sweater! I want to share four things you can do to take a boring basic sweater and make it more interesting! Let’s shake up your looks and hopefully refresh some of your sweaters!

How to liven up a boring sweater before: black crewneck sweater + blue skinny jeans + black slacks + black ankle booties

The type of sweater I’m thinking of is the very basic crewneck sweater, like the one above. If you have one of these sitting around in your wardrobe, try to give it a little love with one of these tips!

BTW, the one above is very soft, lightweight, and is a medium thickness but isn’t bulky. It has great reviews and comes in XXS to 3X and loads of colors that you can see HERE. It’s a great basic sweater!

But, having great pieces is just one of the three necessary keys to great style. You need to do other things to liven up a boring sweater, so let’s talk through some.

SIZING: I’m 5’6″ and usually S/M or 6 in clothes and 8.5 to 9 in shoes.

 

How to liven up a boring sweater after work business casual outfit: black crewneck sweater + teal tie waist pants + leopard print flats + gold pendant necklace + black tote bag

1. Pair it with bottoms in a different silhouette.
First, let’s start by assessing: what is the default style of bottoms you would typically pair your sweater with? The answer will be different for everyone, so think about what it is for you. Do you typically default to a pair of skinny jeans? Basic black work pants? Bootcut jeans? Straight leg jeans? Identify it, whatever it is.

Now, pair the sweater with bottoms in a different silhouette. If you typically go for skinny jeans, try pairing it with paper bag waist pants instead. Or, go for wide leg pants. Changing up the silhouette of your outfits is one way to keep outfits feeling fresh, and it doesn’t require going outside of your comfort zone in terms of adding bright colors or prints.

The picture above is a work look, and instead of going for standard black pants, I went for pants with a tie waist which switches things up! This pair of pants is no longer available, but there is a SUPER similar pair that’s available in sizes XS to 4X and regular, tall, and petite lengths, HERE.

Shop the Outfit:
Sweater: J.Crew Factory (exact—wearing size S)
Pants: (similar)
Shoes: (similar, similar, similar)
Bag: Nordstrom (exact—pops in and out of stock; similar)
Necklace: Nordstrom (exact)

Here are some options for different types of pants you could wear with a basic sweater for both casual and workwear:

 

How to liven up a boring sweater business casual elevated outfit: black crewneck sweater + maroon slacks + black pumps + gold pendant necklace + black tote bagHow to liven up a boring sweater business casual elevated outfit: black crewneck sweater + maroon slacks + black pumps + gold pendant necklace + black tote bag close up

2. Pair it with bottoms in a different color or print.
Speaking of colors and prints, that is another great way to mix up your outfits, especially when you’re working with a very basic item like today’s sweater. Do you see how this pair of pants is basically the same shape as a pair of standard black slacks, but this outfit looks way more interesting simply because the pants are colored? Easy, right? If you want a more subdued color, try maroon, teal, rust or burnt orange, or olive green. Or, go bold and bright!

Shop the Outfit:
Sweater: J.Crew Factory (exact—wearing size S)
Pants: (similar, similar, similar)
Shoes: (similar, similar)
Bag: Nordstrom (exact—pops in and out of stock; similar)
Necklace: Nordstrom (exact)

There are plenty of colored pants this time of year, and you can shop a few options through the widget below:

 

How to liven up a boring sweater casual outfit: black crewneck sweater + black and white striped long sleeve tee + black vest + medium blue skinny jeans + suede tan knee high boots + cognac tan earrings + gold long pendant necklace + cognac leather toteHow to liven up a boring sweater elevated casual outfit: black crewneck sweater + black and white striped long sleeve tee + black vest + medium blue skinny jeans + suede tan knee high boots + cognac tan earrings + gold long pendant necklace + tan leather tote looking downHow to liven up a boring sweater casual outfit: black crewneck sweater + black and white striped long sleeve top + black quilted vest + medium blue skinny jeans + suede tan tall boots + cognac tan leather earrings + gold pendant necklace + cognac leather tote bag close up

3. Layer something over it or under it.
If you tend to wear sweaters on their own, shake it up by throwing a layer on over it, like a vest. Or, layer a striped tee under it to add visual interest. Or, do both! Not only do layers keep you warmer, they add different dimensions to the outfit.

Shop the Outfit:
Sweater: J.Crew Factory (exact—wearing size S)
Long Sleeve Tee: (
similar, similar)
Vest: (similar, similar)
Jeans: Nordstrom (
exact—wearing size 4; similar)
Boots: (similar, similar)
Bag: Nordstrom (exact in a different colorway; similar)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (similar—I wear size M)
Necklace: c/o Dear Mushka (
exact)

 

How to liven up a boring sweater before and after: black crewneck sweater + blue skinny jeans + black ankle booties + gold pendant necklace

4. Definitely add an accessory!
In the Plain to Polished series, I show the importance of using accessories to pull together outfits. With a necklace, a basic sweater instantly goes from plain to polished. I have frequently shown how adding a prominent statement necklace changes a look, but you don’t have to use a statement necklace. Even a small pendant can pull together an entire look, like in the before and after above!

BTW, this necklace is one of my favorite Nordstrom Anniversary Sale purchases. It’s kind of pricey at its regular price, but there is a dupe on Amazon for only $12, HERE! I ordered that one just to see the difference for you all, and the charm is basically the exact same, though the chain is pretty different. The chain on the Amazon necklace is a lot thicker. You can compare the two yourself on their respective product sites (HERE for Nordstrom and HERE for Amazon). But I think it’s worth ordering the Amazon one just to see if you’re okay with the chain. Some of you might be really picky about that while others of you might not mind at all. And if you’re in the latter group, then you just scored an awesome $12-find that transforms your outfits!

Shop the Outfit:
Sweater: J.Crew Factory (exact—wearing size S)
Jeans: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size 4; similar)
Shoes: Nordstrom (similar)
Necklace: Nordstrom (exact; similar)

 

How to liven up a boring sweater nice casual outfit: black crewneck sweater + olive utility jacket + black skinny jeans + cognac suede ankle boots + cognac leather tote

Another accessory that you can add to liven up a boring sweater is a scarf! A basic sweater is a great backdrop for adding statement pieces, and adding a scarf in a fun color or print will really freshen up your sweater. (BTW, this picture is old, and I’m actually wearing a black t-shirt in it, but a black sweater will work in exactly the same way. 😊)

Shop the Outfit:
Top: (similar, similar, similar)
Jacket: (similar, similar)
Pants: Nordstrom (
exact—wearing size 4; similar)
Shoes: (similar, similar, similar)
Bag: Nordstrom (exact in a different colorway; similar)
Scarf: Nordstrom (similar)

Those are just a few of the many ways you can refresh some of your basic sweaters this season! Will you be trying one of these anytime this season? 😊


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