Over It….

oversized sweaters - Vince and Eileen Fisher

I think I’ve hit my saturation point with the All-Oversized-Everywhere, boxy look.

Above: left | right

Maybe it’s just that I’m tired of trying to find sweaters that I’m not absolutely swimming in, or maybe my style pendulum is swinging back in a more Gamine direction. But I really wish we’d see actual shaping again. Not “bodycon,” just maybe cuts that are a little more fitted, and more options with set-in sleeves. (Though I know this is the hardest part for clothing manufacturers to get right.)

My suspicion is that voluminous, boxy cuts have hung on for a couple of reasons: a) they’re less expensive to produce and b) easier to sell because they fit (using the term loosely, ha!) a wide range of body sizes and shapes. And if they’re made in lower-quality fabrics (not the case for either piece shown above) they’re more forgiving than fitted cuts.

“Shaped” doesn’t have to mean tight or uncomfortable. As I’m putting together my travel wardrobe for Paris, I’m focusing on those sweaters that aren’t too bulky to slide easily under a jacket or outerwear, like this favorite cardigan…

navy cashmere cardigan

which looks as good buttoned up as open.

And my ancient cashmere zipped hoodie, similar to this one

zipped cashmere hoodie

When knitwear is more fitted, it helps to have fabric with good body, but that’s not too stiff. Here’s a lace inset sweater that’s nicely fitted through the shoulders but not too snug on the body. And it’s wool-free! (I tried this one on but didn’t buy as it was too similar to something I already have. But it was tempting!)

lace inset cotton blend sweater

I love the soft peplum and nice open neckline on this ribbed cashmere sweater…

ribbed cashmere sweater

Great color for the holidays or just to brighten up your neutrals.

How do you feel about oversized sweaters? Do you wear them, or do you search out more fitted styles?

Edited to add: Apologies, I’d somehow left off the link to the red sweater. I’ve added it.

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64 Comments

  1. rukshanaafia
    December 1, 2016 / 3:13 am

    I wear oversized sweaters for warmth so they : 1 Have wool in ; 2 Are thick so don’t hang or drape ; 3 Will be going over at least two other layers and under a coat outside . I wouldn’t describe your examples as boxy exactly – which makes me think of my favourite jackets ! I’d call them sacklike – do you remember the beatnik baggy sweaters and sack dresses which had a brief run as ‘alternative clothing’ in the early 60s ?

  2. Lisa Sheehan
    December 1, 2016 / 3:36 am

    I am with you on the oversized sweaters! I am a short woman with curvy proportions and the boxy sweaters make me feel and look dumpy.

  3. E E Faris
    December 1, 2016 / 3:48 am

    Absolutely, I agree about the boxy, oversized sweaters being tiresome. They are incredibly unflattering if one is not stick straight, up and down. The lack of craftsmanship is terrible too.

    • December 4, 2016 / 1:23 pm

      They don’t even look good on those slim models. But honestly, I’ve never seen many people wearing them – I’m more likely to see people wearing things that are too tight.

  4. Krystyna
    December 1, 2016 / 3:53 am

    I could’nt agree more. I have a petite thinnish pear shape with short legs. I’m totally overwhelmed by boxy and there doesn’t seem to be much choice irrespective of season.

  5. December 1, 2016 / 4:01 am

    As a short person, oversized tends to be unflattering on me. But I kind of admire women who pull off the minimalist, flowing Eileen Fisher/Maude/Endora look. Maybe Endora wasn’t all that minimalist, but anyway.
    That said, sweater dresses are my thing! Not boxy, just straight. With tights or leggings, depending on how cold it is, and knee-high boots. Very comfortable yet chic.

    • Thea
      December 1, 2016 / 11:30 am

      I still enjoy a “loose-fit” sweater…I always wear with a skinny jean and cute shoes/boots…never a voluminous bottom as in the grey outfits…I recently purchase some foam shoulder pads from Amazon, a la 1993…they give my narrow shoulders some heft and make my ample bust appear less so, and I might add, SLIMMER! I’m 5’3 and busty…

  6. December 1, 2016 / 4:08 am

    I am so ready for fitted clothing! I am top heavy, so anything boxy makes me look huge. A little nipped waistline would be welcome.

  7. Kathi Brown
    December 1, 2016 / 4:16 am

    The boxy style is due to die a quiet death. I’m 5’3″, slender and in my late 50s. I much prefer tailored or semi-tailored clothing proportioned to fit my height and width! Even when I find nicely-made “loose fit” items in Petite, I still look like I’m drowning in fabric!

  8. Adele Miller
    December 1, 2016 / 4:34 am

    Still loving them…….I am most comfortable when I can move easily and fitted styles just make me feel hemmed in. But I do look for drapey styles that suggest a figure underneath, nothing too heavy or square-boxy looking.

  9. Marty
    December 1, 2016 / 4:52 am

    I agree. I hate the boxy look on me. The main thing I have going for me is a waistline, but I have wide shoulders, so if I wear something boxy, I just look like Jabba the Hutt. Not a good look.

  10. Sue K.
    December 1, 2016 / 4:53 am

    Yes, I am also SO over the boxy, unstructured, unflattering look of baggy clothes! I refuse to buy these items, and I guess I’ll just sit out this fashion season, because I cannot find much to purchase now. I will stick with my fitted, tailored tops that actually flatter my waistline! Hello, waistline – do fashion designers and manufacturers remember what a waistline is? Mine is still here. Thanks for letting me vent.

  11. Beth Wappler
    December 1, 2016 / 4:55 am

    Boxy sweaters and clothing only make me look like I am wearing a flour sack, even if it is an expensive article of clothing. I don’t want clothes to stick to me but a more fitted, styled look is much more flattering on just about everyone.

  12. Cathy C
    December 1, 2016 / 5:08 am

    I agree. I’m 5’3″ and busty, boxy tops look horrible on me. Where can I buy the red peplum sweater?

  13. Laurel
    December 1, 2016 / 5:31 am

    Yes! I’m so over these. They are not flattering on me, and although I have a couple, I rarely wear them. They drape over the curved parts of my body and make me look larger…no one wants that! I can see their advantage from the manufacturer’s standpoint, but there is only one body (long, tall, thin, no boobs) that looks decent in them and it’s not me. 🙂

  14. December 1, 2016 / 5:45 am

    I’d be happy if they’d just start putting the shoulder seams back where they belong! The ubiquitous dropped shoulder is flattering on exactly nobody.

    • Robyn
      December 2, 2016 / 2:11 am

      I agree. I have not purchased so many things because of the dropped shoulders!

  15. Kathryn
    December 1, 2016 / 6:33 am

    Merci beaucoup Susan!
    I am glad you have spoken!
    As a short woman with a bust and a shapely bum, I have to be careful when it comes to boxy sweaters and tops.
    I ask myself if I am buying an item because I love it and it looks great or because it makes me feel “safe”. I wonder how many times we woman will buy a big, drapery sweater that we think camouflages all of our “flaws” but really hides our lovely shapes, our curves, and even, I suspect, our personalities.
    Often I have to put a top back on the rack or risk drowning in swathes of fabric!
    Perhaps our rallying cry should be: “Vive la forme feminine!”

    • lisa
      December 6, 2016 / 7:53 am

      Feeling “safe”. You hit the nail on the head Kathryn. I end up buying these loose-fit longer length sweaters because I feel covered and don’t have to worry about my less-than-flat midsection showing . But are they flattering, polished, sophisticated, sexy? No. I feel at a loss for alternatives though …

  16. December 1, 2016 / 6:57 am

    Merci bien! I’ve never been a fan of boxy, loose sweaters. I’m, as my mother would say, rather well-endowed which means that this type of sweater looks awful on me because it–how to describe this–drapes from my bust line which means it sits far out from the rest of my body making me look larger than I am. Not a good look. Like Kathryn, I frequently risk drowning in swaths of fabric.

  17. Margaret
    December 1, 2016 / 7:13 am

    Susan, you are spot on! I enjoyed this look when I was 25 years younger and as many pounds lighter. Now, not so much. Many of us also recall wearing these oversized tops for maternity wear. Cute then…now just frumpy.

  18. Sally
    December 1, 2016 / 7:33 am

    Hi Susan! Great question. I’ve noticed that since I’ve gone past 65 years old my body is starting to look less and less svelte. I started buying lots of oversized EF sweaters to hide my little middle aged waist and belly but now it’s getting ridiculous. I don”t like body con clothes anymore b/c they don’t flatter me–maybe I could wear them if I was Linda Rodin! Anyway what I should be doing is jogging every other day and doing lots and lots of weights. Do you have a good work out program or do you do yoga or pilates every day? My main problem seems to be my little belly!!!

  19. December 1, 2016 / 7:36 am

    I’m almost 5’10” and don’t like this oversized look either. Although I have a waist, I’m busty and this look makes me look huge. And while we’re all ranting, I’m sick of all the high necklines, too! I complained in a boutique and the sales rep said that women over 50 want to hide their neck and chest, not reveal it. Not me! High necklines make my bust look huge! Why can’t there be something for everyone?

    • Susan B
      December 1, 2016 / 7:58 am

      Andrea, I’m with you on the high necklines…enough! A wide boat neck I can do, but not all of these crewnecks.

  20. Sheri
    December 1, 2016 / 7:43 am

    Susan, where is the lovely peplum red sweater from? I’d love to order one like it!

  21. Michelle
    December 1, 2016 / 7:54 am

    I’ve written to my favorite company (EF) that they should remember that even older and just plain old women still want to look feminine and sexy. The young models in the photos you posted at the top of this post just look drab. Boxy hip-length tops are very flattering on me, but not these severe almost funereal outfits.

  22. December 1, 2016 / 8:50 am

    Oversized is definitely easier for them to manufacture but less flattering on me. I have large shoulders so if a sweater has no shaping it makes me appear larger. Sadly, one of the biggest offenders is a favorite brand, Eileen Fisher.

  23. Pam
    December 1, 2016 / 8:52 am

    Finally!! Soooo glad you wrote this. I’ve felt this way about boxy and shapeless trends. EF or other designer “shaped” pieces are infinitely more flattering on me since I’m no longer the size of a skinny stick.

  24. Bronwyn Shaffer
    December 1, 2016 / 9:04 am

    Oh I so agree. I put on a sweater that I had stored away for a number of years. The shoulder seams were where my shoulders actually are, it just skimmed my middle, and it nicely ended just at my hips and I felt so much more pulled together. That’s fashion for you.

  25. December 1, 2016 / 9:11 am

    Hi Susan, I enjoy your blog. I still love oversized sweaters because they are so cozy and comfortable, plus I think they balance out the skinny pants that we’re so attached to right now. I can see how certain body types would not feel comfortable with the oversize look. I’m posting a blog myself later today on oversized sweaters at aboveandbeblonde.com I hope you have a chance to take a look.
    Regards
    Karen

  26. Cathy D.
    December 1, 2016 / 9:15 am

    I agree! Wearing clothing that is oversized just makes me look fat. But I don’t like body con either. I like clothing with some ease, just not too much.

    I do happen to like crew neck tops. They seem to flatter my face and are a great base for jewelry. The jewelry creates a v neckline, and I don’t have to try to find the right camisole or tank to cover a too exposed chest. I hate those very deep v necklines.

  27. December 1, 2016 / 9:20 am

    Yep. Over it. I am getting a lot of mileage out of the high-low hems, as well as bell sleeves and other hem lines. I hit TJMaxx at the beginning of the season and was able to grab several cashmere sweaters that I don’t seem to be able to NOT wear. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing what you take to Paris.

  28. Roxann
    December 1, 2016 / 10:05 am

    Agreed! Boxy styles, especially in fabrics that don’t drape beautifully, flatter few of us. Sometimes a shorter boxy piece worn over longer layers works for me. In general, I’m paying more attention to the shape and proportion of pieces–still favor soft over quite tailored and structured pieces.

  29. Sisty
    December 1, 2016 / 10:28 am

    It’s really all about the fabric, I think. The picture on the right is of a cashmere/alpaca sweater, which in my opinion can look good oversized, but in this case it’s too long and just looks droopy because the fabric has very little body. Compare that with another Eileen Fisher sweater I just saw today which is made out of merino wool, is the same length, but holds its shape much better (although this one does have set-in sleeves).

    http://www.eileenfisher.com/exclusive-scoop-neck-jersey-tunic-in-sleek-heathered-wool-jersey-r6siv-t2323/?&size-range=1786&color=2267

    Put me in the anti-turtleneck camp, too — on me, it’s like a giant neon arrow pointing at the place where the fabric meets my neck. I think that unless I am going to cover my chin with the turtleneck it’s best to go for a lower neckline — like the scoopneck in the link. That way, my wattles just blend in (or so I delude myself).

  30. Ann
    December 1, 2016 / 10:31 am

    I like both sweater styles — (a) big floppy ones to snuggle under around the house and to layer with a trench coat in windy weather and (b) more fitted ones that fit nicely under a structured jacket. Vive la difference!

  31. susan randolph
    December 1, 2016 / 11:26 am

    I’m going to use the H word. I really hate the boxy style, and always want to belt it or take it off. The truth is, is that we have to dress for our body types, and dress proportionately. I have an hourglass shape, and look best in fitted clothes. For those of us like me with a little tummy, there are lots of fitted styles that hide it. As for turtlenecks, I love them. So it all depends on the individual. Excited the check out Equipment!

  32. Mary
    December 1, 2016 / 12:55 pm

    I’m short and actually like boxy tops over pencil skirts and skinny pants but like a commenter above mentioned, I think a pair of small shoulder pads makes all the difference.

    What I wish would go away are pants that don’t come up to your waist.

    • Tracy
      December 1, 2016 / 6:47 pm

      Jeans that sit at the waist are back in fashion among teen girls! The stores catering to teens call them “mom jeans.”

  33. inkyboy
    December 1, 2016 / 1:12 pm

    “Boxy” is very efficient from a production perspective. Less waste; fewer steps in construction. So the boxy look is probably more profitable.

    You can potentially work with boxy by strategic pinning and wrapping a la kimonos. This is a skill I wish I had.

  34. December 1, 2016 / 2:10 pm

    I like oversized and loose…I am incredibly busty. If I get a sweater that fits my shoulders, it’s splitting apart at the bustline, or so stretched that is appears to be a different color across my chest. If I fit the bust, then the shoulder seams are hitting my elbows. The overall loose and boxy look, especially in a lighter knit works for me.

  35. December 1, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    As a rule I’m not usually a fan of oversized anything. It just adds weight to my frame. Like the reader above stated for an hourglass it is just all wrong.

    I feel when I get dressed I want to make sure people know where my body ends and the fabric begins. That said, I have bought that sweater dress recently and kind of love it and it quite loose.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  36. December 1, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    Oh! OHHHH! I’m so in heaven over this post. I’ve always been a fan of the fitted. I’ll even downsize to get the proper fit on top. But–there is a line between fitted and “OMGTHATISSOTIGHTWHATISSHETHINKING” Oversized, for me, is incredibly unflattering because I can appear squat and heavier. Loose fitting sweaters are fine–but that oversized, no!
    You made me do a happy dance! Enjoy your trip!

  37. Karen
    December 1, 2016 / 5:27 pm

    I couldn’t agee more! It’s nigh impossible to find shirts or sweaters with set in sleeves anymore. I have chubby upper arms and the drop sleeve does no favors. The sweaters I wear the most right now include a J Crew from 1988!!! And an ancient cashmere hoodie just like yours. Other than that, cardigans I can wear open for a more slimming look.

  38. December 1, 2016 / 6:53 pm

    Clearly, you have struck a chord here! So many of your commenters are ready for more fitted clothing. I like baggy, boxy, drapey, slouchy clothes, but I always have, especially men’s clothes. I also like things which are more fitted.

    I hope everyone here gets their wish. It’s frustrating when you can’t find the clothes that make your heart sing. The trend swing the other way can’t be too far off now.

  39. jo
    December 1, 2016 / 6:59 pm

    I am surprised no one has mentioned my personal fashion NOWAY-NOHOW: the ankle bootie. As a 58 yo, 5’1″ shortie, the booties make my legs look like they are a 12 inch long cankle! I had high hopes for your Paul Green booties, and they were exquisite, but they were much too high up the leg to look flattering. Boo to the Eileen Fisher look, too! I’m a solid shapely size 8, and curve skimming V-neck tops are what I’m wearing!

  40. Linda (BlueHorse...)
    December 1, 2016 / 11:47 pm

    I still like tunics (to be blunt, in my 60s I like the non-self-consciousness of having my butt covered) but absolutely hate the “box tops” that Will. Not. Die. (Eileen Fisher, I’m talking to you.) Their short length (as in your left hand photo above) just looks stupid unless you do a more elaborate layering thing. That’s ok but I don’t feel like doing it every day. The name says a lot–a little bit of looking like a *box* goes a long way. Over it.

  41. Ariss
    December 1, 2016 / 11:55 pm

    I love them because I layer my clothes/sweaters and remove them when it is too hot or humid. I also love them for travelling.

  42. Wendy
    December 2, 2016 / 12:55 am

    The way you feel about boxy sweaters is how I’ve been feeling for a decade about skinny jeans. They look bad on me. For years and years there was nothing else in the stores. Now I’m trying to deal with ankle length pants. I’m tall, with wide hips, narrow shoulders and a modest bust for my frame. Ankle length pants hit me in the worst place and make my ankles appear huge, I look good in boxy tops and bootleg jeans that touch my shoes. I prefer crew neck T-shirts, too.

  43. Gladys
    December 2, 2016 / 4:22 am

    This drowning in clothes look is not flattering any any body type or age. Even the model looks unhappy to be dressed like this. How this “look” is suppose to encourage us to buy fails me.

  44. Cinzia
    December 2, 2016 / 7:55 am

    I think color has a lot to do with the pics above as well. The unrelieved gray together with the oversized clothing (and the long, straight hair) has a very draggy, dreary effect.

    Having a less-than-ideal body shape, I am not a fan of clothes that are either too boxy OR too shape-conscious. I’ve learned over the years that, as much as I may admire the latest trend, it’s best to stick with what works and just adapt slightly to “what’s in”. Any time I’m tempted to go off in a radical new direction, I stop and think — is that really going to look good on me, and will I feel good wearing it for more than the coming season? If not — it stays in the store!

  45. Linda (BlueHorse...)
    December 2, 2016 / 11:35 am

    I absolutely agree with you, Cinzia (and also have the “less-than-ideal body shape”); the best styles for me are neither too boxy nor too bodycon. The problem is that once the trends are determined, it can become almost impossible to find anything BUT “what’s in.”

  46. bellsonme
    December 2, 2016 / 3:17 pm

    Those first grey sweaters make me think of the”Lagen look.” I have friends who can pull it off, but I’d look like a piece of draped furniture if I tried to go that direction.

    • Susan B
      December 2, 2016 / 4:21 pm

      Hi bellsonme, in a way, yes. The thing about lagenlook though is that the clothing often has interesting shapes and draping effects, and isn’t just square/straight.

  47. Shreddie
    December 2, 2016 / 4:12 pm

    I still like my boxes, and I’m not going to apologize for it. LOL.

  48. Jill Ann
    December 2, 2016 / 7:17 pm

    Don’t we all wish clothing manufacturers would make what we want! I am tallish (5’7″) and have a good sized bust, smallish hips, and a belly. So…I like something that fits me in the shoulders and bust, and skims over my belly. I just bought a pair of plaid skinny pants, because I don’t have much of a butt so I’m fine with wearing plaid bottoms! But what I’m really tired of is ankle pants, especially for winter wear. The plaid pants I just got, I ordered in a Tall size, so they end up being normal length on me. Wish full length pants would come back in style!

  49. Kim
    December 3, 2016 / 7:00 am

    My closet is now filled with the pant silhouette that complements the boxy sweater, coats that go over loose-fitting clothes, and the shoes that balance everything out. I don’t have the money or the strength to start over!

  50. Judy
    December 3, 2016 / 10:13 am

    I too like boxes.

  51. December 4, 2016 / 1:32 am

    Feeling guilty for my love of the boxies. As someone with strong shoulders and NO waist I suffered years with “cinched in” styles everywhere and even worse little belts I had to remove from everything. Ladies you had years of waists being a big thing. Also I’ve got great ankles and calves so I’ve really enjoyed the whole ankle boot period we have been in for a while now and looked awful in ballet flats. Rest assured it will all change again before long and some of us will be happy because what suits us is easily purchased and a different group will be moaning!

    • Susan B
      December 4, 2016 / 6:17 am

      Hi Maureen, I really don’t want to make anyone feel bad about their style choices or what they like. I’m just yearning for more variety. We all have different shapes and different silhouettes that we prefer, and that’s a good thing. (And I’m with you on the ankle boots…LOVE them!!)

  52. Valerie
    January 19, 2017 / 7:30 am

    I’m having a hard time seeing the appeal of the Eileen Fisher clothing. Just looked at the site, it’s all baggy clothes is very blah colours. Also very expensive for such dull items.

    • Susan B
      January 19, 2017 / 8:35 am

      Hi Valerie, I’ve worn a lot of EF over the years and it hasn’t always been this oversized. They do have some great basic pieces like the stretch crepe and ponte knit pants, the silk shells and tees that are great for travel and wear like iron. I’ve also had good luck with some of their denim jeans. The quality is usually good, and they are committed to sustainable manufacturing. That said, I understand that these styles aren’t to everyone’s taste.

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