Sweater sets, or “twinsets” as I’m used to calling them, are a tricky item. On the one hand they can look awfully dated and frumpy. I can’t tell you how many sweater sets have not made the cut when I review closets with clients. But on the other hand, they can look fresh, new, fun and retro. 

Thinking about this interesting wardrobe item and why it works in some ways and not others, I have identified the design features that make it look updated and current to my eye.   

Add “Now” with Pattern, Texture and Colourblocking

While there are exceptions, it’s solid sweater sets that tend to look dated and frumpy. But pop them into a pattern, textured lace, or a graphic colourblocked design, and you add in the now-factor. I fell in love with a colourblocked twin set last year and have worn it over and over again. The interesting colour combination was one of the reasons it felt fashionable instead of frumpy.

Keep the Fit Sleek and Cheeky or Oversized

The cropped and formfitting sweater set is cheeky and works really well, like the Ann Taylor example below in the geometric pattern. A little fluidity in the torso can work, as shown on the J.Crew and St. John examples, but the sleeves are very sleek. Wear these sets too long and too roomy in the sleeves in a tailored fit and you’re back to frumpy. Alternatively, make the fit oversized and tunic length like the earthy Hobbs example.

Use Complements to Make it Modern

Take the updated retro modern classic and wear it with on trend bottoms, like boyfriend jeans, faded denim, leather pencil skirt, slouchy trousers, checked pants, silky track pants, full patterned skirts, and harem pants. Wear a button-down shirt under the set for a fresh layered look. Ground the outfit with on trend footwear and accessories like Beatle booties, pointy toes, ankle strap pumps, slipper flats, biker boots, sassy sneakers, over-the-knee boots, wedged boots and clutch. 

Below are some great examples of sweater sets that don’t look frumpy.

Perhaps sweater sets will always look frumpy to your eye, and I understand that perception because as I said earlier, it’s a tricky piece. But I’m a yay vote on the new sweater set when the fit and outfit execution is modern and current. What’s your verdict?

Cashmere Shell in Slim StripeCashmere Cardigan in Wide Stripe

Dot Print Ann ShellDot Print Ann Cardigan

Sequin Lace & Shimmer Knit ShellSequin Lace & Shimmer Knit Cardigan

Ayla SweaterAyla Cardigan