How to Style a Basic Sweater That's Not Just Wearing It With Jeans or Leggings

We can all relate to experience of falling into a style rut about halfway through December. It’s around this time that we often find ourselves wearing the same warm sweaters on repeat every week, and getting sick of our entire wardrobe in the process.

When all we want to wear is something that keeps our ankles from freezing, our bodies from shivering, and our legs from getting frostbite, there’s usually only one uniform that checks all of those boxes: the classic combination of jeans, a chunky sweater and pair of boots. Sometimes it’s too cold to even think about wearing anything other than a giant sweater, a pair of leggings and fuzzy socks, but when that happens, we end up feeling like we’re wearing the same exact outfit every day. Which we kind of are.

But what if there was a way to wear a basic sweater that’s more interesting than just pairing it with jeans, so that our winter sartorial options could expand far beyond the foolproof look of jeans and a sweater? That’s why we rounded up some of the best winter outfit inspo that, of course, includes cozy sweaters, but doesn’t skimp on the style. Without forgoing fashion for warmth or comfort, these styling ideas will keep you bundled up while pulling you out of that inevitable mid-winter outfit slump.

1. Pair it with a long skirt

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

🍂🐭🍂 #ootd

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You might be thinking, “Why would I wear a shirt when it’s cold?” But, the keyword here is long. Your legs are completely covered, and if you wear it with the right shoes, some warm socks and maybe some tights, you’ll be toasty from when you leave for class in the morning until you come back at night.

Pairing your favorite knit sweater with a long skirt, no matter if it’s pleated, polka dotted, striped or plain, is one of the best ways to elevate your simple sweater like an expert.

2. Throw on winter-white pants

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pink on pink on pink. 💕 • wearing @bashparis sweater + pants

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We know it’s after Labor Day, but that historic rule of not wearing white after the holiday is outdated. Winter whites are a thing ladies, and you’re not committing a fashion sin by joining in on the trend.

Whether they’re white denim, a pair of corduroy flares or pleated trousers, any type of white pant will instantly take your most well-loved winter wardrobe staple to something any Instagram influencer would be happy to wear. And you’ll be matching the snow!

Just make sure not to spill any hot chocolate on them.

Related: 3 Cozy Winter Essentials You'll Need for When It's F*cking Freezing

3. Add a denim jacket

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Squawking about my angles to @extraextrastyle 😂🤣

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Oversized denim is a staple for spring and summer. It’s the perfect weight to wear over a dress or tee shirt on a cool summer night or crisp early spring day. But when the bitter cold hits, it can sometimes feel too light to keep us warm—or so we thought.

Throwing your roomiest jacket on over your coziest sweater adds an extra layer (literally) of visual interest to your outfit. With light and dark washes, rips, embroidery and printing found on denim jackets everywhere, there’s no limit to what you can do with them. Wear them with a pair of fleece-lined leggings for extra warmth, or even break up a denim-on-denim Canadian tuxedo with a brightly colored sweater.

4. Go monochrome

You don’t necessarily have to execute this look with an extreme yellow shade, but wearing all one tone transformes your ensemble from an outfit to a look (and that goes for all seasons, not just winter). Try a white sweater and white pants, a blue pullover with denim, or a black cardigan with black trousers and you’ll surely be turning heads wherever you go.

Bonus points if you do try this in a bright, unexpected color.

5. Double up

Two sweaters at once means double the warmth, so you’d be crazy not to try it.

Layer your favorite ribbed sweater with an oversized cardigan, a cozy turtleneck under an open-knit pullover, or (our personal favorite) a fuzzy, hooded open cardigan with another fuzzy sweater underneath. You can’t get any more comfortable than that!

6. Tuck it into patterned trousers

Patterns are the easiest way to take the boring out an outfit. It can even be argued that jeans feel boring simply because they’re only one color—no matter what shade, hue or wash they may be.

But, no matter the pattern, a graphic pair of pants will, without fail, add visual interest to a boring sweater. Florals are always a great choice, but try plaid in neutral tones or deep reds and oranges to really get into the cozy fall/winter spirit. Or, do the complete opposite and go for a bright, colorful floral or stripe to keep the winter blues at bay.

7. Make a blazer more casual

Worn by everyone from influencers to celebrities, blazers were a huge trend this fall. They’re no longer relegated to the confines of the business power suit, worn only by those who work in corporate settings. Now they’re acceptable with leggings, sneakers, and of course, sweaters, and can be worn anywhere from class to brunch.

But if you still feel a bit of imposter syndrome every time you wear a blazer, or try to wear one, you can tone it down from “business” to “casual” but wearing it over your coziest sweater. (Gucci belt not necessary).

So, if you’re stick in a winter outfit rut, there are ways to make your wardrobe feel entirely new. These styling tips don’t sacrifice warmth for style, you can still wear your favorite sweaters—you’ll just be much more excited to wear them.