How to Wear a Sweater Dress With Leggings

Sweater dresses are cute and cozy in the fall and winter. The only problem is that many are really short. That’s fine if you are twenty or thirty-something and want to wear your mini sweater dress with bare legs or thigh boots, but this starts looking a little desperate at a certain age. So what do you do?

Pantyhose may come to mind, but they’re too light and sheer to look right with a knit sweater dress. Opaque tights can work,  but leggings will give you more of a creative, artsy look. Here’s how to wear a sweater dress with leggings.

Start with the Right Leggings

Long. Short, thick, thin, seamed, shiny, opaque, colored. Patterned… there are so many types of leggings, and it can feel overwhelming to know what kind to wear with a sweater dress,  but it doesn’t have to be.

My advice to keep things modern and classy would be to stick to long, opaque black leggings that end just above the ankle, medium weight, with no or minimum shine. If leggings are too thin or not opaque,  they look like stockings, and if the sweater dress is too short, it seems like you forgot your pants. Spanx makes a great seamless legging with a high waist and tummy control, which is always helpful.

Black is the best color because it goes with anything and will let the dress take center stage. And after all, it is about the dress. Leggings are an accessory. This is not to say that other dark shades like brown, green, and plum can’t work too. However, I find that brightly colored leggings with a dress, i.e., red leggings with red, blue, and green print tops, start looking like you are the court jester. It’s not modern.

Another chic option- is faux leather leggings-  These can look cool with a sweater dress. The texture on texture look is a gorgeous mix.


Choose From these Sweater Dress Styles

Just because it’s a sweater dress doesn’t mean it will look good with leggings. Two types that work well are:

1) Tunic style sweater dress – long straight, often with slits at the sides or big front pockets. It can be a round neck, boat neck, cowl neck, or turtleneck. It doesn’t matter, so long as it hangs straight ( best for gals with no waist) or skims your body but is not tight.

2) The other type of sweater dress that looks great with leggings is a chunky, oversize sweater dress that resembles an oversized sweater. This style often tapers in very slightly towards the bottom and ends around the top or middle of the thighs.



Styles That Don’t Work

Fit and flare sweater dresses- A skater-style sweater dress is too broad and full over leggings. It is too much like an actual dress, which should look more like a tunic or oversized sweater.

Sweater dresses that are too long. Sweater dresses that end below the knee or midi, and maxi sweater dresses don’t look as good with leggings. You barely see any of the leggings.

An A-line sweater dress that flares out into a triangle shape and is loose and flowy. The wide triangle shapes widen you at the hips and thighs and are also dated.

Tight-fitting sweater dresses are not flattering over leggings either. You can look stuffed into your clothes. Slightly wider over skinny is the silhouette you should be after when wearing a sweater dress with leggings.


Leather Leggings Outfit l Brown leggings, brown sweater dress, booties l styled by Fabulous After 40

What Footwear to Wear with a Sweater Dress and Leggings?

Boots look fantastic with leggings and a sweater dress. They can be ankle booties. Like the leggings, your legs will look longer if they are black or dark. A contrasting color breaks up the line and gives a more playful look. Tall, flat, or low chunky heel riding boots look excellent with a sweater dress and leggings, giving your outfit an adventurous or equestrian look. (More boots with sweater dresses here.)

Prefer shoes? You can wear a pair of slip-on flat mules which can be very chic. Ballet flats also work well and look cute with leggings that end at the ankles.


Exciting Ways to Style Sweater Dresses with Leggings

  • Belt your sweater dress if it is a straight tunic style
  • Wear an oversized scarf with a sweater dress + leggings. The chunkier and less refined the sweater scarf, the more rustic the scarf.
  •  Push up the sleeves on your sweater dress for a more casual, sporty look in keeping with the simple leggings.


The key to wearing a sweater dress with leggings or any clothing with leggings is to try it on and see. Does your outfit look like two pieces -a dress with leggings, or is it more like one continuous creative look? Does it feel awkward or cool? Ask yourself these things to know whether you have nailed the sweater dress over the leggings look!


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