Adding red to a black sweater

What to Wear With a Black Sweater: Easily Adding Scarves and Accessories

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Lesley is showing us what to wear with a black sweater after a request from Heather in New Zealand. Heather was asking about tips on how to wear sweaters and what to wear with them to make them less boring and predictable.

For the majority of our outfits, the three of us love to use accessories as an easy way to add variety to our looks.

Content of what to wear with a black sweater
1-Red: Adding a long vest and layered necklaces
2-Gold: Necklace and shawl combination
3-Blue: Scarf and brooch
4-Red: Scarf only

Quote of the day: “It seems to me so silly in life not to pursue the highest possible thing you can imagine, the biggest possible thing you can imagine, the best possible thing you can imagine, even if you run the risk of losing it all.” Francis Ford Coppola

Francis certainly wasn’t talking about how to wear a black sweater when he said the above quote, but I think it ties in nicely. Many times we are intimidated by our accessories and feel at a loss of the “right” way to wear them.

In fact, I have ideas of how to wear a white sweater and an oversized print sweater.

That’s why I hope you’ll sign up for my emails because my eBook gives many ideas about that exact subject.

Tricks and Tips With Black Clothing

As for styling your black sweaters, I think it’s good to remember a couple of things:
1-Black is a blank canvas, and therefore any color will work with it. If you want to keep the overall look muted, then stick with darker colors like charcoal grey or brown. But if you want contrasting colors, add red or something lighter.
2-The fit of the black sweater can change the entire look. Lesley is showcasing a longer, tunic-length black sweater that she paired with black pants and shoes to create a column of color.
3-Black DOES NOT make you appear thinner, no matter how many times you read that in other articles. A big, black sloppy sweater will make you look as big as the sweater.
4-Black is good for some women depending on their complexion and personality. However, many times for older women, it can wash out the glow of the face. That doesn’t mean you need to throw out ALL of your black. That’s where this post about what to wear with a black sweater can be beneficial.
5-Black may hide stains, but it does show any light pet hair and lint easily.

Insider tip: While we all know the lint rollers are fabulous for removing pet hair and lint, if you are without one, remember this tip. Pour some water on your hands, and rub the material.

Related post: How to wear the “other” neutrals

Column of color with black

Foundational Outfit
Pants: Chicos~~ Sweater: INC~~ Shoes: Walking Cradles

4 Ideas of What to Wear a Black Sweater

Although the subject can be endless with ideas, Lesley is showcasing 3 different colors that she likes to pair with her black sweater along with a variety of ways to accessorize it.

If you are looking for even more ideas, you can pop down to previous blog posts that showcase black tops.

Layering necklaces for what to wear with a black sweater

1-Adding a Red Long Vest

A long vest works wonderfully with a long black sweater like this. Just because we think of a sweater as an outer layer, don’t forget that you can still layer over it.

In fact, there are many other examples of layering a vest over either jackets or sweaters:
1-Useful Way to Make a Long Vest Outfit Fitted. I wore a long vest over a navy sweater.
2-Long Vest for the ’50s, ’60s, & ’70s: The Office Version. The original models all wore long vests over lightweight sweaters for a professional look.
3-Layering a Long Vest over a Jacket. Here all three of us showcase how even a jacket can be layered underneath a vest.

Not only did Lesley add a vest over the black sweater, but she also included a great example of layering necklaces with it. The red bead necklace is one piece while the gold pendant necklace is another.
Both of these worn together give a vertical dimension to the overall look.

Lesley added a gold bracelet over the cuff of her black sweater sleeve along with gold statement earrings.

Insider tip: If you have a bob haircut like Lesley’s and want to show off your earrings, make sure to either tuck the hair behind your ears or clip it back. Remember, hair clips are fun for women of every age. Don’t believe me? See how we styled them here by showing them off and here with keeping them hidden.

Scarf and necklace combo

2-Gold Shawl Combined with a Necklace

Lesley used a short necklace in this example. The necklace and matching earrings were her mother’s and thus considered vintage. These are pieces that Lesley wears to parties often as they get many compliments and are a great way to start a conversation about costume jewelry from that era.

I like how a short necklace brings the focus up to the face, then Lesley added a gold shawl flung over her shoulder.
This trick of the shawl over the shoulder is one that Lesley used quite a bit. In fact, you can see it for her high school reunion outfit and then again when we dressed up joggers, yet both outfits are with different shawls.

Insider tip: The advantage of wearing a shawl this way is it’s easy to throw on (no tying) and easy to take off. However, if you are looking to keep it in place, then you can always pin it to the shoulder area. This is easier to do BEFORE you put on the sweater unless you have a second pair of hands close by.

You can see that very similar bracelets have been added. Lesley did say that she would have switched out the shoes for something snazzier if she was really going to a party!

Shopping deal: I’ve found Pashminas for under $15 in multiple colors on Amazon. If you are looking for a metallic gold one, then this is under $20.

Drape a blue scarf with a scarf pin

3-Blue Obling Scarf and Brooch

Another easy way to create a vertical dimension is to pull out an oblong scarf. You’re adding a vertical element to both the front and back of your black sweater outfit this way.

In order to keep the scarf in place, she used a brooch that has the same color blue as the scarf.

Insider tip: If you are looking to keep the scarf flatter, don’t tie a knot in the scarf before adding the brooch as Lesley did here.

A pair of blue earrings echo the blue of the scarf and carry the color around her face. And a different gold bracelet is on her wrist that goes well with the gold in the brooch.

Insider tip: If you don’t want to put a hole in your scarf by using a brooch, there are scarf clips available instead. I wrote an entire post about them here. There are many options on Amazon like this set.

Red scarf with what to wear with a black sweater

4-Red Square Scarf

A large square scarf can be tied into a triangle and worn to the side. Lesley loves to call this her “lady bib” look!
The advantage of wearing a scarf this way is you can actually see the beautiful print of the scarf. Many times when we “tie” a scarf, you roll or fold it so that the print isn’t as obvious.

Lesley wore her gold hoop earrings (see how she tucked her hair behind her ears so they would stand out) and then added both gold and red bracelets.

Insider tip: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find wonderful scarves. We have found some of our favorite ones at second-hand stores, estate sales, and even Walgreens.

Comfortable loafers

Column of Color

Matching your pants and shoes to your top half is an easy way to create a column of color. What this does is make the question of what to wear with a black sweater a blank slate.

Insider tip: This column of color is easy to create with a dress also.

Because we were touring a historic house this day, Lesley chose her Walking Cradles “Wren” black loafers. These are our gold standard for comfy shoes that look great too!!

Now if you don’t like wearing accessories or it seems too overwhelming to decide what to wear with a black sweater, then I would suggest sweaters that have some decoration already on them.
It’s nice to have basics, but at the same time, having pieces that are fun is even better.

More Ideas of What to Wear with a Black Sweater

Since Lesley wears a lot of black tops and sweaters, I thought you might like to see other ideas of what to wear with a black sweater from the past.

What to wear with a black sweater

Photo credit: Rob Filogomo

My Goal

Thank you for visiting my space on the internet. I like to showcase how it’s never too late to look great for women of any age, size, or working with any budget.
I feel I’m here to help move beyond the fashion rules of yesterday and evolve. Style and clothes are made to give you joy. Not cause us stress because we are worried about what others think.

My hope is that you get ideas and inspiration from Charlotte, Lesley, and myself. It’s not about copying what we wear, but about using what you already have and updating items along the way.
Most of all it’s getting us to think differently and dare I say, have fun?


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