FATshion! Seven Cute, Quirky and Possibly Rule-Breaking Plus-Size Sweaterdresses

Cowls, leopards, pockets, hearts and big-ass horizontal stripes. Not all at the same time. Although WOW, that would be awesome.

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

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Portrait in sweaterdress with tissues.

I generally don’t like to let the weather limit my wardrobe, insofar as what is appropriate and, well, normal seasonal apparel. In the winter, I just layer my sundresses extensively and keep on wearing them alongside my more standard cold-temperature gear, even though it looks sort of bizarre when I’m the only person tromping around in the snow in a pastel floral dress over woolen over-the-knee socks and a floppy oversized sweater. Actually now that I think about it, I probably look like a bag lady a lot of the time from October through March.

Um.

Moving on: So, I don’t like to let the weather limit my wardrobe, BUT I do enjoy a good sweaterdress in the fall and winter. They’re warm, they’re comfy as all get out, and sometimes they’re actually kind of cute. So here are some of the options I’ve been eyeing as I sit here shivering in a ditsy-printed cotton shift like some miserable Victorian orphan.

LOOK, everyone: a sweaterdress WITH POCKETS. And it’s even the very best kind of pocket there is: a KANGAROO pocket! Who knew such marvelous wonders could exist? It’s enough to make me rethink my loathing of the cowl neck. I don’t get the cowl neck. I’d rather wear a scarf, because a scarf is a thing I can take off if I find myself in an overheated room, whereas taking off my dress altogether is generally frowned upon.

A person in a cowl neck usually reminds me of nothing so much as an uncircumcised penis, because -- actually, never mind, I’m not going to finish that analogy. It’s for the best that I don’t. It’s a cute dress, right? Anyway.

Speaking of scarves, you see that scarf above? It’s attached to the dress. Seriously. Seriously attached at the back top neckline. Forever scarved. It’s a tragic story, really, of what can happen when a scarf loves a dress very much but the dress is kind of not so much into the scarf and thus the scarf just sort of hangs there like a dejected remnant from the knitting machine, knowing it has forever joined itself to a dress -- a grey dress, grey like a steely sunless sky in late January, grey like the iron branches of a denuded tree in the icy cold, grey like a stilled dead heart in a Nine Inch Nails song --  that will never appreciate its many good points, and it will never know what it is to be paired with a non-grey garment again. 

Wow, I just made myself feel really sorry for a scarf.

This dress also has pockets, although I’m not sure how you could possibly use them without looking as though you’ve developed an iPhone-shaped growth on your abdomen. Eh, you’ll probably be too busy crying into that scarf to care.

Here, this should cheer us all up. It’s a sweaterdress with a fuzzy heart on it. It’s a fuzzy heart dress! Yay, teddybears and kittens and tiny sweet strawberries and fairy wands! I’m not generally fond of super-twee garments with hearts and crap on them, but I kinda dig this giant loopy bouclé heart.

Interesting aside: did you know that the modern use of the heart shape as a symbol for affection can be traced to the doomed Roman city of Pompeii, where brothels used it to advertise their business (ostensibly for the shape’s ability to evoke a lady’s boobs and snatch)? It’s true. Therefore, wearing this dress is kinda like wearing an ad for an ancient brothel. A big thanks to my many years of watching documentaries about historical catastrophes for that fact.

So when I was a tiny kid I used to spend ages staring at the album cover for Santana’s 1969 debut -- yes, the actual album cover, like as in for the VINYL RECORD, because that is how old I am. At first glance the image on the cover seemed to be merely a drawing of a snarling lion, except once you looked closer (or your dad helpfully pointed it out) you would see that there were human faces hidden inside the drawing, which you would find both spooky and irresistible, such that you would spend years carefully analyzing all similarly rendered art in the hopes of finding more hidden faces in other places as well. And maybe you still do this sometimes as an adult, too. Maybe.

Which is probably why me buying this dress is a bad idea, as I'd spend all my time peering down at my own boobs in search of hidden faces.

Is it me or are we all a little leopard-obsessed here at xoJane lately? WHO CARES, LEOPARD PRINT IS AWESOME. If the above ASOS face-dress is just a bit much for you, Lane Bryant has a slightly more wearable a-line option with this leopard “sweater” dress, and I’m putting “sweater” in scare quotes because even though they’ve called it a “sweater dress” I don’t believe it’s legitimately a sweater knit, as in the pictures it looks suspiciously like jersey. 

I would email Lane Bryant to ask about this but I already exchanged a bunch of emails with them last week when I demanded that they explain what a “wedge” silhouette was, and while to their credit they totally humored me, I remain unsatisfied with their answer (because if it’s just a batwing sleeve then WHY WOULDN’T YOU JUST CALL IT A BATWING SLEEVE?). So I’m not real optimistic that they wouldn’t just tell me, yeah whatever, it’s a sweater. Or that by “sweater” they mean “knit.” Or that I am banned from Lane Bryant for life.

I can hear you already, doubters: OH, NO, STRIPES. I feel you, fellow fearful fatty. I used to be like you, until Emily made me put on a horizontally striped sweaterdress for a “Do This Don’t” post back in February (see the photo at the top of this post) and I was FOREVER CHANGED.  

So, yeah, stripes are a thing you can totally wear, case closed. Instead, can we talk about Old Navy’s super creepy decapitated plus size mannequin? All the non-fat Old Navy clothes are on PEOPLE, but plus sizes get this terrifying headless horror in the always popular Fermenting Yeast colorway, and with squick-inducing permanently block-heeled toeless feet. Because that makes me want to buy that dress, to prove that it would look better on an actual person instead of a cut-rate Dress Barn fattequin from 1992. Well played, Old Navy. Well played. 

Oh, look, a dress on a LADY. Isn’t that less frightening? In the event that you like the IDEA of big fat stripes but aren’t quite sure you’re ready to commit to the fully horizontal just yet, chevron stripes might be a friendly stripy stepping stone for you. In truth, this dress is mad cute even if you’re already firmly in the pro-horizontal camp.

Just try not to think of the chevron print as a series of enthusiastic arrows pointing in the direction of your downstairs bits. OH CRAP I JUST RUINED IT DIDN’T I?

Sometimes it amazes me that people buy anything that I write about in these fatshion posts. 

So, what do y’all think? Have you had your eye on a sweaterdress I missed? Please, do share. Also, would anyone be interested in a future post about extending summer dress wear into winter? If you’re not into bag-lady style I TOTALLY understand, but I thought I’d ask.