Sweater Secrets

Sunday was another beautiful day, so we decided to return to Banner Elk, North Carolina, to have lunch at one of the many restaurants offering outdoor dining. We enjoyed a delightful meal at Sorrento’s Italian Bistro.

I wore white jeans with a dark navy cashmere sweater and a large silk scarf to keep me warm as needed. SweaterJeansLoafersSimilar BagSimilar ScarfSimilar Cuff Bracelet.

Mr. Mickey wore a Ralph Lauren sweater vest over a slim striped shirt and dark wash jeans. I appreciate that his shoes are always polished to a high shine.

We stopped at the Mountain Home VA to take pictures so that we wouldn’t be rumpled after a long drive.

Each time we drive on this road, we are filled with anticipation of another day trip to the mountains. Even though we’ve taken this journey countless times, we never tire of it.

The hostess graciously seated us on the very private (and heated!) back patio. While we waited for our drinks, I wandered around to take a few pictures for you.

We shared a small delicious spinach pie.

This beautiful creek meanders along the way as we approach Banner Elk.


Today, I am sharing why I wear some styles of sweaters and would never wear others.

An endless variety of styles, shapes, fabrics, and colors of sweaters are available. The task of finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. I’ve purchased many sweaters and cardigans over the years without understanding why they didn’t work for me. I gave them all away, even when some of them were never worn. I kept buying them in hopes that I would find my cozy, perfect sweater, or cardigan.

The cashmere dark blue V-neck sweater I wore on Sunday is my all-time favorite. It has been in my collection longer than any other, and I reach for it almost year-round. I’ve worn it over thin cotton shirts and with blazers and an endless variety of scarves.

I bought my cashmere V-neck sweater in the dark navy here. The slim shape, V-neck, fine cashmere fabric, and dark color combine to make this a perfect sweater for me. Additionally, the shoulder seams fit at the true edge of my shoulders. It skims the body without being too tight or adding any extra bulk. All of these features flatter my shape. I wear almost two sizes larger on the top than the bottom, so I often wear a dark top with white jeans, which is a combination that visually balances my shape.

The Cashmere Crew above in the dark navy is here. I can wear this crew neck sweater because the neckline rests below my collarbones, but I would not wear the sweater below since it is bulky, has full sleeves, and a wide band at the high neckline. The features combined always make the chest appear much larger, even if the sweater isn’t bulky.

The oversized Stroopwafel crew in black above is here. If you have a long face and neck with a rectangle body shape and a small bust, this cozy sweater will be perfect for you.

The light color thick cable knit sweater below might be the worst possible choice for someone built like me. The light color, bulky fabric, and dropped shoulder seams would make me look thirty pounds heavier than I am. It adds visual weight with the cable patterns but also with the light color and bulk. Dropped shoulder seams are problematic for all but the perkiest figures.

The cable knit oversize sweater is here. Slender women with narrow shoulders, long necks, and small busts will look marvelous in the white sweater above.

The cropped boxy alpaca cardigan above is here. Since I have a full bust and a short waist, anything cropped and boxy is never a good look for me. A pearshaped figure with a long torso and a small bust would look great in the cropped cardigan.

The open front cashmere navy cardigan above is a much better choice for women shaped like me. The open front and straight, narrow lapels make it a great choice for those of us with a full bust and thick waist. I never close jackets or cardigans since that would remove the slimming effect of showing only the front middle section of your look. The open front cardigan is here.

I bought the Merino wool sweater above earlier this fall, and it is the perfect warm first layer under blazers. The neckline isn’t too high or wide, and the fit is slim to the body. The Margot crew neck sweater in Merino wool is here and here.

Read the care instructions for your sweater because the fabric may require special attention. At the end of the season or as needed, I gently hand wash my sweaters and then roll them in a towel to press out most of the water. I reshape and lay them flat on a dry towel to air dry. When they are completely dry, I fold them and place them in a drawer with cedar blocks for the summer. (The cedar will keep the moths away.)

I don’t recommend ever hanging any heavy, bulky sweaters. They get very stretched out, lose their shape, and may even get holes from the hangers.

I do hang my lightweight sweaters inside out on felted hangers during the winter, as shown above. (The sleeves are on the inside.) The shoulder bumps will be inside the sweater and thus not need to be steamed before I wear them. After each wearing, I leave sweaters to air out on a rack for a few days before putting them away.

Felted hangers are here. Cedar blocks are here.

I share what I’ve learned in hopes that it helps you also present the best version of yourself. Shopping links in my posts may allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

66 Comments
  1. Very good article. Good information. I struggle with sweaters due to the Same issues.
    My husband and I are at the Greenbrier and heading southeast today. Perfect timing for the restaurant recommendation. We are heading towards Asheville. No plans just leaf watching. Any other recommendation in the area. Are the leaves at or near peak? Just an unplanned trip. We live in Gallatin TN and will be heading back home Friday.

    1. Leaves at the higher elevations have peaked, but there are still awesome views along the Blue Ridge Parkway and country roads. Enjoy your trip! We always look for outdoor dining options.

  2. I avoid anything bulky. I do like a relaxed fit. I’m always looking for boatneck or a bit of a scoop neck. I really like the J Crew V-neck Boyfriend cashmere; unfortunately, it doesn’t go on sale often enough or is offered in the yummy colors as the other J Crew sweaters are. I have one so far – snapped up when it went on sale.

  3. You may not want to publish this comment since it’s not related to the sweater content (which was extremely helpful, by the way), but I had one of my best meals ever at Reid’s, in Tynecastle, very close to Banner Elk. They had at least a couple of very fine vegetarian choices that sounded so good I had trouble making up my mind. I finally settled on the roasted seasonal veggies with burrata and an herb pesto of some kind – not basil. It was truly outstanding and what a pleasure to be in a place where “veg-friendly “ doesn’t mean they thaw out an old veggie burger.

  4. Loved your comment about Mr. Mickey’s polished shoes. My husband considers it a measure of a man and one of his biggest pet peeves is a well-dressed man with scruffy shoes. He has always polished his shoes, even before his Air Force days.
    I enjoy your articles very much and look forward to them.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you for encouraging cashmere sweaters for last several falls/winters. I began following your blog several years ago and never thought I could spend the $$ on cashmere. I am an avid consignment store shopper and bought my first cashmere there and have been fortunate to accumulate about 5 from consignment stores in last couple of years. Nothing is as warm and comfortable as cashmere!

  6. Thank you very much for your thoughts and guidance on wearing sweaters. I struggle at times since I’m petite and many sweater types just add too much bulk and weight to my frame. I’m very interested in purchasing a cashmere sweater from Everlane. What size do you wear in that brand and would you recommend to someone who usually wears a petite in tops? Thank you again.

    1. On Susan’s recommendations I, too, have purchased several cashmere sweaters from Everlane. Lovely sweaters and this past week they’ve been on sale. I am also a petite size and need the shorter sleeve lengths and not too long overall. I am 5′ 3″ and 110 lbs. with a short torso and average or smaller bust size. The Everlane cashmere sweaters in v neck and crew in a size small is perfect for me. Not too long; perfect sleeve length and overall length. They skim the body without being tightly fitted against it (I’ve had four babies many years ago), but they are not blousy. My preference is the crew neck because I freeze in the winter and don’t like any more skin, than necessary, exposed. I hope this helps.

  7. So informative and very helpful, thank you for your simple explanations. I also appreciate that you shared with us which body types would be best for each sweater.
    Also, your day trips and restaurant visits are very inspirational!
    Your posts make these Covid-times a bit more bearable.

  8. Thanks for tis article…do you mind telling me what size you wear in the v neck cashmere sweater? I’m interested in buying some but uncertain how they fit.

  9. Hello Susan. The open front cashmere sweater appears to be on sale so I am interested but I have a question. Does cashmere pill and if so..what do you do to deal with that? I would hate to spend that much money only to find that under the arms etc developed unsightly pills.
    I can’t imagine you wearing pilling sweaters so I’m thinking they either don’t pill or you have some really good way to prevent it or handle it.
    Thank you….hope the sweater is still available on sale in my size.

      1. Check out The Laundress for its wool and cashmere shampoo and sweater combs. I now use their products exclusively for all my items whether machine or hand wash.

  10. I have many cashmere and wool sweaters and don’t hand wash them. You can put them in a lingerie bag and wash on delicate in the washer. Then shape and lay out to dry. They come out wonderfully soft and fluffy. No residue from hand washing.

  11. Great advice Susan. You just solidified in my mind that I’m making the right choices, so I’ll stay disciplined in my selections. So easy to go off to other designs because they “look cute” on other body types!

  12. You and Mr. Mickey are looking so fine. What fun it is to go on your outings with you. Thanks so much for taking us along for the ride. I look forward to visiting that area some day.
    The explanation about sweater styles is what I needed to understand why I seldom wear some of mine. It’s the incentive to move them along, and how to evaluate new purchases. I do appreciate your excellent blog.

  13. Susan I don’t comment often but sure love and read carefully every one of your posts. Thank you for showing what sweater would not work for you because it sure would for me. Long neck and very small bust. Bulky, cable, turtleneck sweaters for me!

  14. I couldn’t wait for your post to appear tonight so I googled you early! Your sweater explanations were perfect. I’ve given away many clothes that I liked on the racks, but got home and was never comfortable in them. Now I know why.
    I am trying Everlane on your recommendation. I’m finding during this Covid time that I’m drawn to brighter colors.
    Maybe it’s because my hair is now gray. Who knows. Looking forward to your next post.

  15. I really appreciate your blog, Susan. I don’t order from your site very often, especially this year when we will be inside much more in Minneapolis and by ourselves and I like what I have. I have a different shape than you – I have a small bust (which I like), long torso and longer legs . I am a little taller and appear fit so your comments don’t always apply. Sometimes I am not sure how they relate to me even as your made suggestions for other shapes today. You always look elegantly put together, even with a casual style. I love that even if I don’t often practice the same style. Thank you for your tips and photos.

  16. My husband loves v neck sweaters but says they have become very hard to find. Does Mr. Mickey have a recommendation for online ordering.

  17. Thank you Susan for the tips and tricks! I have gained weight post menopause but am working to eat smarter, exercise and turn it around. Your style shares help give me hope that even being 20 lbs over I can still be classic and stylish and flatter my body shape as it is now. Light weight dark navy vnecks here I come.

  18. I have tried cashmere and other wool sweaters and they itch me! I wish I could wear them! Thanks for the tip on hanging lightweight sweaters. I only use those types of hangers!

  19. Sheryl here from New Zealand. Love your you tube channel and website. Just turned sixty this year and appreciate your advice. Also the plug for our merino wool is greatly appreciated. Being the land that has more sheep than people our sheep and our merino wool warrants any press it can get

  20. You are looking so hale and healthy!! Yea!!!

    Unfortunately, I am allergic to wool in all it’s forms…cashmere, alpaca, nohair, etc. Can you make ANY recommendations for those of us with unfortunate allergies??? Thanks!

  21. I love the scenery – thank you for taking the time to photograph and share the pictures.
    Great advice for sweater care too!

  22. Susan,
    Thank you so much for this post. I now understand why certain sweaters look ridiculous on me. I love that you include information about what body types would look good in certain clothing features. The tips about how to care for sweaters are very helpful ( especially hanging them inside out).

  23. Susan, thank you for another helpful column! You are right so correct in your evaluations.

    I have two questions–the Sam Edelman loafer that you like so well, does it have good arch support? That is important to me. Also, would you ever consider wearing the plush jackets that are so popular now? Obviously, they add bulk but they are outerwear.

    Appreciate your advice!

    1. The loafers have a nicely padded footbed. I don’t know that you would consider them to have arch support, but there is a bit of a heel, and they have two-part construction so that they are more supportive than many of the loafers I’ve tried.
      I avoid fur, fleece, and anything puffy, so I can’t imagine I would ever embrace a plush jacket.

  24. I love when you post pictures of the scenery especially since we don’t have any fall colors here in South Florida. You also have a great fashion sense and explain why some things work for some women and not for others. Please keep up the good work.

  25. Excellent analysis of what features work for a given body type. I’m going to have add the “airing” step to my knitwear care regime. I carefully washed and dried them all last spring, so opening my cedar chest is like Christmas! I also think felted hangers are fabulous – I got rid of all my others – nothing falls off, and they take so much less room in my cramped closet.
    I too love a man in polished shoes…;)

  26. Hi Susan,
    I’m wanting to invest in a cashmere sweater. I really like the v-neck. Do you like the quality of the Everlane sweater? I’d appreciate your honest opinion. Thank you

  27. What a beautiful day trip. Love your outfit. It’s so important to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

    Great tip to hang the sweaters inside out. I will try that on those I do hang.

  28. Thank you for the sweater information, styling tips and care. I would like to know if you think full busted (34D) women should wear vertically ribbed sweaters? Obviously, horizontal stripe sweaters are on the never wear list!

  29. Love your pictures. I miss that part of the state very much. I did drive to Ohio to see my Family and on the way back I went through the smokey mountains. Just beautiful drive on the way up and back to Fl. I had a very bad experience. I stopped at a Best Western in Wy. Vr. at a motel where I stayed last year. Looked very clean and I thought I checked it out well. I ended up with bed bugs bites all over me. The steroids were very hard on me. Doing better today.
    You and Mr. Mickey look so good. Love your blog.

  30. How do you find the restaurants that you show on your blog? I’d love to find some near me. Would you say they’re gourmet restaurants?

    1. In many cases, they are gourmet restaurants, which means they have a chef (who plans menus and manages the kitchen) instead of a line cook (who prepares meals according to a regular plan). We find the restaurants through our friends or by reading local publications such as “Our State” and “Western North Carolina.” Those are a couple of publications we enjoy very much. I have found that research helps discover the best of what you seek to enjoy or buy.

  31. Thank you Susan for this informative information on sweaters. I liked your idea of turning them inside out. After they air do you fold and put away or do they still hang on the hangers ? Also, you mentioned you avoid fur, fleece and anything puffy, so that would mean fleece vests or fur vests. I understand they can add bulk but that really limits we who live in the north. I am still having hot flashes so I find layering helps and do like the vests just mentioned, but agree they can make a person look larger. What do you recommend for we who live in the north?

    1. I leave the sweaters on the hangers for the winter. I wash, dry, fold, and put them away for the summer. Layers of thin garments keep me warm without adding the bulk of heavy quilted or puffy items. Since I don’t live in the coldest of climates, I’m sure all rules would go out the window if I did. I do not enjoy cold weather at all.

  32. Thank you; this is most helpful. One thought: I am quite tall (5’11”) so, when I wash sweaters, I often DO hang them on hangers to dry, in the hope that they will stretch out vertically.

  33. I’m really enjoying your “tutorial” series. I usually learn something when I read your blog posts (like hanging lightweight sweaters inside out-genius!). Great information on different sweater styles for different body shapes. It makes so much sense! I do enjoy seeing photos of you and Mr. Mickey’s dates! You both look so casual but classy. I love seeing your simple yet pulled together fashion choices. It gives me great ideas.

  34. Great post! I bought 2 Everlane sweaters last year due to your recommendations and love them. I bought a couple of V-Neck sweaters and a wrap sweater whiich it too low cut. Per your comment the V-neck sweater was longer than the wrap sweater. I too am large busted and short waisted but am pair shape, only 5 ft and 30 pounds overweight. Would the crew neck be a better option for my frame?

  35. Hello Susan!
    Will we get something new on YouTube from you? I so enjoy your style and your comments about clothing and jewelry.
    Have nice days and enjoy time with Mr. Mickey.

  36. Thank you, Susan, for sharing the beauty of your trip. I also have given away sweaters that I never wore. I’m finally understanding what works for me and your tips confirm what I have discovered.
    Thank you.
    Ruth

  37. Such an informative post! Thank you for explaining what types of clothing looks best on different body types. Love the closet organization and picked up several tips. Beautiful pics, great blog. Blessings to you and Mr. Mickey.

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am in my sixties, I am sharing ideas and inspiration for using and loving what you already have.

Thank you!
Susan

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