Shrugs. Heck if I know.
May 28, 2013 4:24 PM   Subscribe

I have a lot of sleeveless summer dresses, mostly casual. It gets chilly in the evenings, and some things are too bare for offices. I'd like some shrugs, wraps, cardigans, whatever. I've scoured the stores and a: they are absurdly difficult to find (at least when you're looking for them) and b: what I have found tends to look cheap and matronly when actually worn on a body. Where can I find flattering cover-ups? And what are the secrets (when shopping online) of figuring out what might actually work in the real world? There are all different sorts of cuts (just covering the boobs, tie at the waist, shrunken cardigan, different sleeve lengths). I'm short-waisted and busty, for what it's worth. I looked through links in previous threads but didn't see anything ... my current go-to is a lightweight cropped denim jacket, and I'm getting kind of sick of it. Thanks!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Ureshii has a ton of shrug styles.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:29 PM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Shrugs, IMO, are going to make you look more short waisted, especially if you're busty, because they start dividing your body up into quadrants and then you end up looking kind of squared off, which may be what's making you feel like you look matronly. You'll know what works best for you, though, and some shrugs are very cute.

On the sweater front, I find that Target has some excellent options and once you find a style you like it's easy to accessorize from there.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:33 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

J. Crew's Jackie cardigan is great.
posted by jabes at 4:39 PM on May 28, 2013

I think a shrug is in general difficult to pull off, ditto the Tie at the Waist, both of which can be unflattering (imo) for the reasons These Birds of a Feather mentioned. The denim jacket is popular for a reason -- it won't make you look matronly because it still has some structure, AND it goes with everything, AND it's easy. I sometimes wear my shrunken navy blazer with casual dresses and push up the sleeves and make the whole look a little Schoolboy-inspired when I don't want to do denim, because it gives me the same structure that my denim jacket does but looks different. I have a khaki safari jacket I use for the same purposes. So you can always explore other Little Jackets - J Crew usually has some, so does Gap. Sometimes I even wear a thicker denim button down shirt as a jacket.

In terms of cardigans, you probably need something that's slim-fitting and not boxy. I was also going to suggest the Jackie Cardigan, because it's not TOO long, which might be part of your problem with other cardigans. You are probably just going to have to try on a bunch of cardigans to see what works on you, though. I personally can't really wear the Jackie because it hits me at a weird spot and I've had more luck with J Crew's longer V-Neck cardigan, which actually might work well on you also, because the neckline is elongating in a way that the crewneck of a classic cardigan sometimes is not.

The thing with successful online shopping is that even those of us who do A LOT OF IT (me) still send stuff back a lot. I order a BUNCH of stuff with the knowledge that it's not all going to work, even from places where I know beyond a shadow of a doubt work with my body and the rest of my wardrobe.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 5:08 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have very specific preferences when it comes to cardigans because of my body type, but ymmv with your own body.

First of all, I will not buy a cardi unless it's a v-neck. And you wouldn't believe sometimes how hard it is to find a freaking v-neck cardigan. The button-all-the-way-up ones are boxy and cover up any shape I have in my waist, making me look a little like a rectangle. I think a v-neck is much more flattering. If you're busty you may feel differently, but I'm a little busty myself and only wear cardigans over sleeveless or strappy dresses that generally cover all my cleavage, so the v-neck doesn't overexpose me. If it's a v-neck, I don't really care what length it is but I tend to think that slightly cropped (not as short as a shrug) cardis are more flattering than the normal, end-at-the-top-of-the-hips ones, but that's because I'm a little hippier, so I like my cardi to end at my waist (around bellybutton level) to accentuate it. Longer cardigans have been in style over the last year or so and I like those too when I can find them (hit at the bottom of the hip or lower). Finally, every summer there are lots of cardigans with sleeves to the elbow and I think that is the most unflattering sleeve length ever, unless you are naturally blessed with long, slim limbs (I am not). I would much rather have a full length sleeve and pull the sleeves up to my elbows or just below my elbows. At this point I'm starting to sound super vain so I'll stop with this line of thought.

(Oh, one more thing, there are also short sleeved cardigans which I don't like just as a matter of personal preference, because I'm generally buying a cardigan to keep warm so I like the long sleeved option)

Ann Taylor has lots of cardigans in nice bright colors but it's hit or miss if they have v-necks. H&M usually has a ton of cardigans in all different colors and styles. You could also try New York & Company where I recently found cardigans that fit all of my picky criteria, so I bought a couple.
posted by young sister beacon at 5:25 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you considered light blazers? They'd look FAR more professional than a cardigan or shrug.
posted by easily confused at 5:28 PM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Ditto on the blazers. I swapped to them from cardigans last year and look way better/more professional. I have some from J.Crew, Limited, and Loft.
posted by quodlibet at 5:51 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

For officewear, I second easily confused's suggestion for light blazers. I am also short-waisted and busty, and always feel more professional in my semi-casual office in a hip-length blazer that's fitted in the waist than I do in a cardigan. I wear a lot of blazers over lightweight dresses in the summer.
posted by fussbudget at 5:59 PM on May 28, 2013

I'm shaped pretty much like you and usually have a hard time finding cardigans I like, but I just discovered some perfect lightweight cropped cardis on sale this weekend at Old Navy of all places!
posted by platinum at 6:07 PM on May 28, 2013

I have a similar body type, and i've found that only cardigans that don't look matronly on me are either very thin (like tissue thin), or very long (like knee length), and with very fitted/tight sleeves in either case.

I've had some luck with Joe Fresh, H&M and French Connection. No idea what's in store right now though - sorry!
posted by Kololo at 6:16 PM on May 28, 2013

I'm an opposite body type of you, but I'm going to nth that shrugs require Herculean efforts (body types?) to pull off. (If youre not wearing a leotard & legwarmers, it prolly doesnt look good.) I, also, love lightweight blazers (hello thrift shops) and long linen cardigans in the summer. The longer line lengthens, and that is good for virtually everyone. And look for blazers that end below the butt, again, it's about the lengthened line.
posted by Kronur at 6:23 PM on May 28, 2013

Usually when I feel/look frumpy/matronly I realize that the clothes I'm wearing are too big. I've definitely noticed that to be the case with cardigans. I don't have a huge bust (though fairly large for my frame) but I do have a pretty big butt. If you have a larger body part, baggy clothes are sure to make you look frumpy. Curvy bodies do particularly well with a tailored look.

So I would also suggest a very well-fitting blazer. You might want to try petite cardigans even if you are not petite. The length may work better for you.
posted by imalaowai at 6:35 PM on May 28, 2013

I have a rainbow of solid-color cardigans I got from JC Penny online. They are lightweight, v-necked, 3/4 sleeve and not boxy. I wear them with all of my sleeveless things. I think that is the style you are looking for, regardless of who makes them. They are great from spring into fall.
posted by michellenoel at 7:14 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Uniqlo has some great, light-weight, blazer/cardigan hybrids this season. Now that you've reminded me I may go back and get more in different colors...
posted by blu_stocking at 7:19 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Following advice from beloved Stacy and Clinton, blazers and cardi's for your body type should be nipped in a bit at the waist and end a few inches above the crotch. With a generous bust, you don't want big lapels, nor anything boxy. The old description was "princess style" cut --- seaming gives a shape that follows or creates the hourglass figure. Speaking of What Not To Wear, maybe you could view some episodes on the 'net that features a figure like yours. Also - why not wear one of your dresses into Nordie's or Macy's and try out a variety of cardi/jacket options in front of a mirror. I know the sharp cookies working at Nordie's would be happy to help you with some options.
posted by Lornalulu at 7:44 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by BenPens at 3:10 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lands' End Canvas has some cute cardigans that I think look good on short waisted folks. V-neck or Crew neck
posted by bluefly at 6:57 AM on May 29, 2013

The best place I've found for fitted cardigans is Victoria's Secret catalogue. They run pretty tight - I wear a small everywhere else and have to get a medium, but they never look matronly.
posted by starsatnight at 7:24 AM on May 29, 2013

Cardigans you wear with dresses are good if they are fitted, and also if they are a bit shorter in length than regular cardigans. Check out this one from Lands End.
posted by zoetrope at 2:18 PM on May 29, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you for all the suggestions! I've NEVER found a blazer that I actually wore after buying ... the longer ones (even tailored for petites) make me look like a dumpy little man and the "feminine" ones that flatter cutwise always scream "Dallas Realtor" with the color or other details. (Apologies to anyone who falls into either of the above categories.)

I'll start looking again in person and online using these tips and just resign myself to shipping a lot of stuff back. Thanks again!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 6:00 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes to the Pashmina. When I had an office job and really had to dress, I had 3 or 4 pricey and beautiful wraps/scarves. I kept them in the desk drawer. One was a wool brocade. If you could find something like this you'd be set.
posted by andreap at 2:01 PM on June 1, 2013

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