7 No-Frump Ways to Wear Chunky Knit Sweaters

Chunky Knit Sweaters are roomy, relaxing, and cozy. But since they are oversize and thicker with a lot of texture,  they can also add bulk. How do you pull one off after 40, 50+ when most of us are already a little rounder and softer than we used to be? Here are 7 no-frump ways to wear chunky knit sweaters.


1. Doublecheck the Fit

Whether you wear a chunky knit cardigan or a cable knit pullover, chunky knit sweaters are made to be oversize like your grandpa’s sweater. This makes fit extra important. Size up, and you will look heavy and dowdy. Size down, and your chunky knit will look too fitted and therefore dated.

The goal is to create a relaxed but not sloppy look. Be sure your chunky knit sweater fits properly at the shoulders and isn’t too bulky at the thighs. Try scrunching up the sleeves if your chunky cardigan looks like a big, fuzzy bathrobe.

Also, check your mirror to make sure that belt loops sit at your waist, not your hips.

2. Wear Long Over Skinny

Proportions are also important when it comes to styling a chunky knit sweater. For example, a roomy oversize turtleneck is most flattering with skinny jeans or leggings, so you get that wide on top, narrow on the bottom silhouette.

Caution – If you wear wide pants with a chunky knit top, you can end up looking like a giant block, depending on the sweater. You can try doing a half tuck, but generally, skinny pants look better with a long, chunky, oversized sweater.


3. Choose a Cropped Chunk Knit Sweater

If you like the idea of a chunky knit sweater but aren’t prepared for all the bulk, get yourself a cropped one. These are really popular and look great with high-waisted jeans or pants. You can wear a cropped chunky knit with straight-leg, skinny-leg, or wide-leg pants  They are a great way to get the oversized look in a more understated way.


4. Layer Lightly

You can layer chunky knits in a couple of different ways, but do pay attention to what you are layering with because chunky knits can get pretty hot. For example, try a light, silky button-up or a crisp white shirt under a cropped, chunky crewneck. Leave the shirt tails hanging out for a cute, preppy style statement.

You can layer cardigans with light, stretchy tees, camisoles, and thin, fine sweaters. A round-neck, V-neck, or square-neck top looks great. Leave your cardigan open, or do up a couple of buttons and belt it for a modern look.

 5. Steer Clear of Long, Chunky Knit Sweaters when Petite

Petites can wear chunky knits but think about scale. If the knit is too oversize or chunky, you will drown yourself in it. Choose small-medium knits, cropped, and slightly more fitted styles to balance things out.

6. Look for Vertical Details

Chunky Knits with a row of buttons, a long zipper, or vertical trim down the front elongate your body, making you appear slimmer and taller. Diagonal lines can also create a slimming illusion.

7. Avoid Patchwork & Nostalgic Patterns

Chunky Knit Grandpa sweaters in colorful patchwork or traditional weaves have a nostalgic crafty look that can frumpy after 40 .  Instead, try a color-blocked knit, which looks more modern. The odd time you may find chunky knit patchwork weaves that look more modern, like this cute white one I found here.

Popular Types of Chunky Knit Sweaters

I’ve shown you a few of my favorite chunky knit sweaters, but there are many styles currently trending that I have written about. For example:

  • Cable Knit – The classic chunky knit inspired by fisherman’s sweaters
  • Bobble (Popcorn) Knit – Tiny popcorn-like balls of yarn give the sweaters tons of texture and a playful look.
  • Chunky Marled – Marled chunky knits are trendy and give a relaxed, natural vibe.
  • Boucle – Cozy, rich, and luxurious. These chunky knits are super soft.
  • Vertical Ribbed Chunky Knit – These are classic ribbed sweaters including many turtlenecks but oversized with more texture
  • Horizontal  Ribbed – Thick Ribbing gets turned on its side for a more modern look.
  • Space Dye – chunky dyed are woven together for a colorful tie-dye look.
  • Tunic Style Chunky Knit – long chunky that hit mid-thigh are the perfect complement to skinny jeans and leggings. They often have side slits for a more flattering hip line.
  • Chunky Knit Turtleneck – the ultimate snuggly sweater that looks best over skinny bottoms like cigarette jeans or leggings.
  • Chunky Knit Cardigan- These can be anything from cable knit to popcorn to ombre- just long and open. They are meant to be layered.
  • Cropped Chunky Knit – When the oversize idea intrigues you but the reality of chunky sweaters overwhelm your frame or are just not practical, reach for cropped chunky knitwear.

Where to buy chunky knit sweaters?

Chunky Knit Sweaters are not hard to find, but some of the nicest I’ve seen have been at


Amazon- Try the Amazon Goodthreads brand. They’re great sweaters and very affordable



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7 thoughts on “7 No-Frump Ways to Wear Chunky Knit Sweaters

    1. Hi Deb, Thanks for your honesty on this. You make a good point. We have suggested in the past to beware of chunky knits since they can add unwanted bulk to our bodies. (and who wants that?)… so, when buying sweaters, we love to find those on the thinner side. However, some of us live in frigid climates, so we might have to bulk it up at some point!

  1. If that’s what women over 40 are wearing, I’m going to start shopping in the Jr’s department…were over 40, not frumpy!!!!!

  2. How do you feel about the cascading sweaters on a concise slight apple shape? I’m having difficulty trying to visualize whether this would be elongating and slimming or if it would simply call attention to my tummy. By the way, I’m an advanced-level seamstress who would be making the sweater, so I can adjust the amount of fullness, length, etc., and come up with a perfect fit.

  3. What do you think of leggings on women over 40?
    I bought a pair, then returned them the next day after reading a great article in More Magazine about how women over 40 should never wear them. (My husband agreed with the theme….) ?

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