Outfit Lab: Sweater over shirttails dilemma

First, the good news. I am feeling SO much better today. Not 100%, but a whole lot closer to my real self. Yay!! 

Now, the bad. The subtitle of this post could read: Not looking fab. 

Today I was visiting a friend's class. So I decided to go preppy! Hence, Outfit 1

Problem: I feel sloppy and chopped into bits. The "sloppy" is partly explained by the fact that I am not wearing a belt and, as a result, the pants keep wanting to fall down. I haven't picked up my Hipsi at the border yet.

The chopped into bits part has to do with proportion. The sweater and shirt are nice and boxy. And I have added a heeled bootie to improve the leg line. But I still feel awkward. The sweater is possibly supposed to end at my natural waist. On me, it comes to my high hip bone. Is this the problem? Enlighten me, oh clever ones. 

Outfit 2 is yesterday's fail. I do tend to like the "regular" sweater length with a peek of tails only a bit better than the cropped over long on me. But this sweater isn't boxy enough so it squishes the top unattractively. And maybe the shirt isn't long enough, either. I do think the lower contrast probably helps. But it doesn't really seem to be working overall and was quite uncomfortable to wear. 

Help me figure out this sweater over shirt thing, please! And this cropped over long thing. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • milehighstyle (Linda) replied 6 years ago

    Glad you're feeling better, Suz! 
    I'm not sure, but I think maybe #2 would work with a slightly longer shirt, although you are saying it's uncomfortable, so that's not good.  Do you have a silky rather than cottony shirt that may fit under that sweater better?
    #1 I like, but maybe you are not comfortable with the high contrast ?  I like the porportions.
    No expert here, I'm about to post my own shirttail-showing sweater musings.

  • replied 6 years ago

    See Una's post on this issue from yesterday - lots of commentary there.  I am convinced this is a very hit and miss look for lots of us.  I have yet to see it really work on anyone (other than Angie of course) without adding bulk and making the shirt look messy.

  • replied 6 years ago

    I like the second outfit best on you Suz - even though it's the one that gave you the most trouble. I'm drawn to the lower contrast look, and the colours in general.  

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Yeah, I definitely think the lower contrast helps with #2; it's just not comfy because the sweater -- once a bit more fluid -- shrunk a bit in the wash and now is distinctly tailored. I also think this type of proportion is easier for me to do. 

    I have no problem layering a sweater over a shirt, especially a boxy one -- if I TUCK the shirttails. My problem comes with not tucking. And yeah, I do think the high contrast makes it worse. 

  • kkards replied 6 years ago

    i struggle with this myself (http://youlookfab.com/welookfa.....er-sweater). for what its worth, i like #2. i think the sweater in #1 is a good lenght, but would like to see it with a longer shirt.

  • jackiec replied 6 years ago

    I'm going to be absolutely no help here, having posted a similar WIW yesterday. I have to go back to Una's thread too - I think I missed that.

    FWIW I do think you look good in both outfits. I prefer the lower contrast as well - which I think is also an issue with me.

    I'll watch this with interest. I need help in this area. 

    ETA - I'm SO glad you're feeling a bit better :)

  • Angie replied 6 years ago


    I love #2. Perfect Preppy Proportions. 

    #1 is very fashionable - no doubt about it. 

    You'll probably like #1 a LOT more if you create a lower contrast between the shirt and pants. OR, you create a lower contrast between the shirt and pullover (with high contrast pants). It's when you create a high contrast between the three that you feel sloppy and un-pulled together. That's my hunch. 

  • Elizabeth P replied 6 years ago

    Following... because this is a struggle of mine as well.  I also need to go find Una's thread.  I must say I'm so glad that others are struggling as well!  I find for me, a long top and a long sweater seems to work better, but we have very different shapes. 

    I actually think you look better here than you obviously feel.  I do think the second one would be better with a slightly longer shirt.  And maybe the first one needs either a longer OR a shorter top?  you look FAB in your cropped sweater over a shirt.

  • viva replied 6 years ago

    I wear this look all the time. I think the first is JFE and the second is great. Love them both. You always look more pulled together than I do, though, and I wonder if that is part of what you struggle with here -- this look is decidedly not pulled together (shirttails hanging out, very rough and tumble James Dean -- it speaks to my inner tomboy who is not at all a prince).

    I agree with Angie that you may like the first look better if you have less contrast somewhere. It really does change the degree of choppiness. That said, I wear both low and high contrast versions.

    Also, I have found that I really like my cropped sweater over more fluid tops -- silk or silky. I still wear them over cotton button-downs, but they seem to work a bit better when the lower half has some movement.

  • Neel replied 6 years ago

    Hmm ... The shirt in 2 could be a wee bit longer. But I definitely love the pattern mixing fun going on!

    I love 1 as is, but remember I am a high contrast girl :) ... I wouldn't change a thing! However I have a feeling you would love this with black jeggings. Still high contrast but a monochrome look.

    Thank goodness you are feeling better :)

  • abc replied 6 years ago

    Glad you are feeling better.
    I love #2 and would change no-thing!!
    For #1, my gut reaction was that the sweater could be even more cropped.  Like it's trying to be cropped but isn't quite there, causing the chaos.  Not sure if that could be it, or what Angie mentioned about the contrast.

  • Aziraphale replied 6 years ago

    Glad you are on the mend, my dear. :-)

    Outfit 1 would totally work if the sweater wasn't cropped. I don't think you can have that much shirttail hanging out.

    Outfit 2 is good, in my opinion, although I agree that the sweater could be a tad looser.

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    I was going to suggest what Angie did about the crop. Tone on tone or lower contrast. These outfits may not make you happy but they are enough to inspire me to continue to try! So I will be struggling along with you...

  • Sveta replied 6 years ago

    What is the first thing a gal does when she is feeling better after weeks of illness? Plays in her closet of course - this is as theurapetic as chicken soup or ginger tea! :-)
    I am so glad you are feeling better! However my bossy self is frowning here saying: "she is feeling better today and what does she do - visiting a class! Maybe it is too early and you have to feel better for a couple of days at least? Remember you felt "better" on Friday too deciding to take your trip!" <end of bossy self lecture>
    Now to the outfit anatomy: I think Angie is up to something with the contrast thing. This is why I picked up CREAM pointelle sweater in hope to layer it over a white long shirt :-)
    In outfit 1 try a toile sweatshirt instead of black sweater - see if you like it better as it will be lower contrast against the shirt and jeans.
    My polka dot sweater srank too - good thing I sized up in the first place AND dropped at least a size on my upper half so it is still a slightly fluid fit on me. However I also find that the welt is pulling the shirt in and I don't like it much. Try to pull the sweater up a bit so the welt is positioned abover the hips and see if you like it better.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Good thought about the welt, Sveta. I did try that and it felt even more bunchy, alas. So this sweater is not for layering any more, at least not with untucked tops. 

    I appreciate all the thoughts and good wishes! Sveta, you are also probably right that I shouldn't have trotted out today. But in my defence, I am really feeling different than on other days -- much more alert and my cough is almost gone. 

    I think you have all given me good suggestions and I am going to try to put some of them into action. 

    For #1, I am going to try: 

    1. Lower contrast top, as per Angie and some others. 
    2. Dark pants vs. light plaid, as per Neel. 
    3. Lower contrast cropped sweater with these pants. 

    I'm also going to try the sweater with a skirt (I think it will work well with that).

    I don't own a more cropped sweater than this, though I can replicate the look sometimes by turning a welt under. 


  • Beth Ann replied 6 years ago

    OK -- you've already got it sorted -- and I completely agree with the comments on low contrast and length.  I found Sveta's on the welt particularly interesting.

    I did want to say I love #1, and I want to see #1 with the toile!

  • Sal replied 6 years ago

    Pleased you are feeling better, so draining to be so unwell for such a long time.

    You look great, your skin and eyes look much more sparkly!

    I love 2 as it is, but hear you on the comfort factor.

    I agree the suggestions with 1 may help, I guess it depends how attached you are to working this look. I think it is a hard look to really pull off, Jackie and AG have also had questions. But it is fun to experiment!!

  • Sharon replied 6 years ago

    See, I really love #1, so I suspect this is about not feeling fab rather than not looking fab! Some food suggestions re: contrast and colour here already.

  • unfrumped replied 6 years ago

    So glad you are starting to be on the mend.

    Agree with contrast suggestions.

    I can understand that the more cropped sweater can be really in style. I'm just not a big fan of it. Not exactly a poison eye, but is a more juvenile look to me. Perhaps that overlaps with tomboy--though I like many elements of tomboy, so that should not be a problem! So it just depends on how much you like to play with this particular look. It is a fun look on you regardless.

    As a "look", I prefer the whole shirt and sweater combo to be a little longer and more fluid--sort of evoking, yeah, my shirttail kinda fell out, and I'm wearing my comfortable sweater. And top-quality knit drape for the sweater. Kind of an offhand  BF--elegance combo. That's just me though. And I don't even wear this look, but I would consider it for weekends--I can use the "coverage" of the shirttail look with lower rise jeans. So maybe it's a matter of proportions for  a Peter Pan look vs. a more grounded  look. How old is your Urban Prince? !

  • replied 6 years ago

    I actually like the proportions in both Suz, but I definitely agree about contrast playing a big part in a pleasing look, which is why I feel that 2 works better because of the cohesion between shirt and sweater.

    So glad you're feeling better!

  • Karie replied 6 years ago

    I didn't read the other comments, I will come back and do that later. I do think the cropped sweater in #1 needs to be shorter. I like #2, but the button-down doesn't appear to have real "tails" - it looks like there's just a slight curve up on the sides. I think it would look better if the shirt under had more exaggerated tails, and if the sweater were a bit boxier. I have sweaters like that too, from season's past, and now I'm wanting their boxier cousins. 

    So glad you are feeling better!

  • N-Marie replied 6 years ago

    I would not have guessed that #2 is a fail, although if you had to fuss with it and it was uncomfortable, then I can understand. 
    It might be partly the combination of  the fitted sweater and the slightly crisp button-down shirt, which does not like to be "tamped down". Perhaps a softer underlayer (like a flannel) or a looser overlayer (a more boxy sweater) would help?

  • Alassë replied 6 years ago

    I'm happy to hear you've turned the corner. #2 looks good as is to me.

  • Carole replied 6 years ago

    So happy you are feeling better, Suz! Woohoo!

    I have to say that I really like both looks on you..I have a preference for #2 and while this looks great as is a longer shirt would probably look and feel better. I find that the longer length shirt prevents the feeling of the layers riding up, if that makes sense. I am usually not a fan of cropped sweaters..,not sure if it's because I can not even remotely consider wearing one because of my body type or if it's because of some youthful flashback so I will have to leave that for the experts!

  • AJ replied 6 years ago

    So glad you are feeling better, Suz!  I think you look great in both outfits. 

    Thanks so much for posting this.  I'm learning so much from everyone's comments!

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    So glad you are feeling better. Please take it easy, you won't be at your sparkling best for a while :)
    I think everyone is right about a tonal look. If you are going for contrast maybe a really plain shirt would also work. I pinned the look below because I thought the proportions were something I could do but it never felt right for busty me. It would look fab on you though :)

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Angie is a genius. I was thinking the plaid pants were throwing off the look a little bit in 1 and I was craving a simple blue jean with the look. Otherwise I love that sweater and shirt combo. I also like #2 and would just semi-tuck the front and leave the back out, if this way is uncomfortable.

    Glad you're feeling better, Suz. I echo Sveta's sentiments, though: let yourself truly recover before pushing too hard to get back to business-as-usual. It must feel like you've been cooped up for ages, though, so I sympathize.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Caro, I love that inspiration pic! And I do have a sweater of that length with a welt that I could try. I suspect you are right -- on me it will be better to go with a shortish but still "regular" length sweater. 

    Sharan, I really like your idea, too - and will try this with plain denim. 

    AJ, it's great to learn with one another, right? 

    Carole, that is usually what I do - a semi-tuck or faux tuck in front, and that works well for me. 

    Thank you all for your insights! Feeling better by the hour so I have really turned the corner on this. Yay! 

  • Jules replied 6 years ago

    #2 looks a bit body con for your current style. Maybe with looser pants? Do you have any menswearish trousers?

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    Suz, just posted my version - not sure it's any improvement!

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I have skipped almost all the comments after Angie's but will read later. I actually just saw Una's outfit and commented following up on your comment.  I do think the key is to keep each part tonal - so a lighter sweater and darker bottom and shirt tail would be an interesting experiment. Or, basically what Angie said!

  • Gigi replied 6 years ago

    Haven't read all the comments...but I did see Angie's comment. In line with what she said, I was going to say that the color of the button-down in pic 1 is the problem. To me, that shade of purple is kind of a statement color, and the pants are obviously a statement too. So to my eye, the two statements were competing. I was going to suggest a more neutral-colored button-down.

    On 2, I would suggest trying a longer shirt.

    FWIW, I haven't been able to pull this look off myself either!

  • Marley replied 6 years ago

    Suz - just a quick note here before I hit the bed! Maybe someone has already said this - but you've got too many statementy things going on in outfit 1. I'd ditch the lavender shirt for starters - substitute in a neutral color that works with and is less contrast with the pants - maybe a taupe? See how that feels to you.

  • lyn67 replied 6 years ago

    Happy you are getting well, Suz! For nr 1. I don't see any problems regarding the sweater's/shirt's lengths. I even feel proportions are the very best here. It doesn't need to have the sweater end at your natural waist at all, it feels more grown up and ladylike like here,  a bit longer, at least to my eyes. But I see the lower part of your outfit it's a bit faded compared to the top part. It may be the thing it bothers you without knowing what it is. I say try the same top part with dark pants (or skirt:-)). It may solve all your worries.

    Nr 2 is looking quite good in regards matching colors, and proportions, but you have to feel good in it. I know what you say about sweater not roomy enough and squishing the shirt underneath it for a weird feel. I cannot tolerate that, either:-(.

    Now, off to read the comments:-).

  • Lisa replied 6 years ago

    I have been sporting the layered look often this season and I find that the shirt has to be a little form fitting while the topper has to be a little looser.

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