5 Ways To Wear A Sweater As An Accessory

To a fashion editor, writing about sweaters in fall and winter can feel like watching paint dry. Don't get me wrong, I love a cozy knit as much as the rest of 'em, but there's only so much you can say about the item each year: They get looser, then they get more fitted again; the necklines shift from turtlenecks, to crew-necks, and back again; you can stick with solid-colored layering pieces, or you can embrace the seasonal aesthetic with some loud, printed ones.

That's when I realized that my boredom with sweaters happened because I was playing by the rules. So, I started messing around with my knits, and realized that with a little creativity, they make for damn good accessories, too. Think about it: Street style stars often earn their fashion cred by repurposing regular pieces in creative ways. Take draping a coat over one's shoulders, for example. Sure, it may not be practical, but it helps show off way more of your outfit than if you were actually wearing said jacket. Why can't a sweater do the same?

If you look at your cold-weather essentials, you've got scarves, hats, gloves, and likely a trove of knits you don't actually wear. It's time to stop thinking of your wardrobe's sweater section as just that, and time to start thinking of it as a collection of fun add-ons, as you would any other accessory. Ahead, I came up with five creative ways to make your sweater an outfit accent, and believe me: You'll never look at that pile in your closet the same again.
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Preppy, Reimagined
Yes, this look might initially conjure images of country clubs and pastel colors, but wearing your sweater in a classically "preppy" way is having a comeback. And, like the oversized polo (the other golf-playing staple that's suddenly sweet), a sweater around your shoulders works in a weird way. While this striped option paired with a white shirt is fairly simple, tying it around your neck offers the perfect opportunity to clash. Plus, it's actually functional: With a sweater draped over your shoulders, you're still keeping warm.

How to do it: Simple! Let the body of the sweater fall down your back, and tie the arms loosely around your neck. Feel free to knot it, or just let it hang loose.

Gap sweater; H&M Oversized T-shirt, $34.99, available at H&M; Carhartt Men's Work Pants, $19.99, available at Carhartt.
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Sling It!
This plays into the "intentionally disheveled" aesthetic that's currently dominating fashion. Wearing your sweater around your body as a "sling" specifically channels the following scene: You roll out of bed and think to yourself, Hmmm maybe I'll need a sweater today? But I'm not cold right now. Guess I should tie it around my body just in case.

How to do it: Similar to the look in the last slide, drape the body of your sweater over your back. Instead of bringing the arms of the sweater over your shoulders, put one arm over one shoulder, and the other arm under your other armpit. Tie the two together in a knot and let it hang loose.

Gap sweater; H&M Oversized T-shirt, $34.99, available at H&M; Carhartt Men's Work Pants, $19.99, available at Carhartt; Frye Sneakers, available at Frye.
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No Scarf? No Problem
Sometimes the pattern, thickness, and material of the scarves that make up your collection just don't cut it. But, just because you're in the mood for a loud pattern on a given day doesn't mean you necessarily want to buy a new one. The solution is transforming your favorite sweater (I've come to learn that thinner options actually work better) into your "new" scarf.

How to do it: This one doesn't have a "formula" per se. Take the sweater and wrap it around your neck so its not too loose. Tie the sleeves together and either tuck them in, or arrange them so they're hidden. Then, pop on your coat, and nobody will know that it's actually a top.

Gap sweater; H&M Oversized T-shirt, $34.99, available at H&M; Carhartt Men's Work Pants, $19.99, available at Carhartt.
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Get (High) Waisted
Wearing a sweater around the waist is nothing new. When the glorious trends of the '90s returned, it seemed like everyone was quick to tie flannels and knits low around their hips. Now, we're doing the same thing, but just a bit higher — and the result is even better than the low-slung look we started with. The sweater almost tricks people into believing it's a part of your T-shirt, à la Jacquemus. Wearing a super baggy tee? It'll give a little waist definition, too.

How to do it: Tie the sleeves of your sweater together high on your waist, then move the knot over to one side. Try to get the bottom of the sweater to match the length of your T-shirt, and let the sleeves hang loose.

Gap sweater; H&M Oversized T-shirt, $34.99, available at H&M; Carhartt Men's Work Pants, $19.99, available at Carhartt; Frye Sneakers, available at Frye.
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Half-On, Half-Off
Okay, TBH this isn't as easy to pull off as the rest of them, mostly because there's a sleeve you have to strategically tuck into the back of your sweater to avoid any lumps. If you can finagle it right, however, this look is what's up. And while some designers are actually making one-sleeved, cropped sweaters, it's a style you can D.I.Y. just as well. But, like wearing your jacket over your shoulders, we admit this isn't the most practical. What we can promise is that it definitely makes for a good photo.

How to do it: Start by putting your sweater on as you normally would. Once you have one arm in, leave the other out entirely. Stand in front of a mirror so you can strategically tuck the other sleeve away so that it doesn't look lumpy or fall out. Voila.

Gap sweater; H&M Oversized T-shirt, $34.99, available at H&M; Carhartt Men's Work Pants, $19.99, available at Carhartt.

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