Help me find the right sweater (or jacket)
October 7, 2016 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a black, long sleeve cardigan that I can wear over a black lace dress to a semi-formal ("black tie optional," although people's dress tends to run the gamut from party/cocktail to full gowns) work event. I'd like it to be cropped or hit at/above the natural waist so it doesn't ruin the lines of a fit and flare dress.

The dress (though I got it at Nordstrom Rack for less $.)

I already have a cropped cardigan from Banana Republic, but it's a thin summer weight sweater and is getting threadbare and faded after years of use. I think I'd prefer something with at least one button to a bolero/open front item. I would consider something that is more jacket than sweater, but comfort is important to me and I hate stiff matronly cropped jackets that you often see as formal wear coverups.

Ideally the sweater won't be $50 but I'd be ok paying up to $30, maybe a bit more for just the right piece. I have a tattoo sleeve I'd like to have the option of keeping fully covered for this event, so 3/4 sleeves absolutely won't work, and I think a shawl/wrap would be too annoying to keep on my shoulders.

While I'd consider a non-black sweater, something in black would be of most use to me beyond this particular event. I am happy ordering online if I can get it shipped in about a week. I live in Chicago and have access to most major stores. I just spent an hour walking up and down State Street and tried Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off Fifth, Express, Gap, and Anthropologie with no luck, so I'd prefer links to actual items rather than just "try this store" suggestions.

Thank you AskMe shoppers, you're my only hope!
posted by misskaz to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just for the records - are you in standard sizes?
posted by maryr at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2016

Try searching for a "shrug" instead of a sweater, you might have more luck.
posted by radioamy at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, my bad - I'm short (5'1") but otherwise a standard size 4-6.
posted by misskaz at 12:08 PM on October 7, 2016

I just had to do basically the exact same thing -- short cardie over lacy dress for a wedding -- and here's what I did: went to & and ordered everything that even looked like it might work. I probably ended up with 30 cardigans. (Shipping was free because my orders were large.) Tried them each on with the dress, picked the one I wanted, then took advantage of the fact that both stores allow you to return in-store what you bought online (so I wouldn't have to pay for return shipping). Definitely search for "shrug" and "bolero." I'd also search their petite options since you're specifically looking for something that's going to hit above or at your waist, and you're short (like me).
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:13 PM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Not sure if this is too long but I've had good luck with these cardigans from Gap.
posted by stillmoving at 12:16 PM on October 7, 2016

Check out the Jackie cardigan at J Crew. They're in cotton with dark buttons or wool with gold buttons, which ends up looking pretty dressy.

I'm 5'3 and they hit me at the waist.

Unfortunately I think they may be online-only. They're definitely vanity sized, so at a size 4-6 you should check out the x small or even the xxsmall.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 12:49 PM on October 7, 2016

I know you don't want to spend $50, but in case it comes to that, Lands End makes a few shortened cardigans made to be worn with dresses. One, Two.
posted by cecic at 12:59 PM on October 7, 2016

Zara had a couple gorgeous jackets and sweaters recently and you can call the Michigan Ave store (Block 37 is still not re-opened) to see if they have it in the store. Top Shop had a really nice tuxedo jacket, but it was closer to $120.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:07 PM on October 7, 2016

Check out the Jackie cardigan at J Crew.

You know what, I used to LOVE the Jackie cardigan at J Crew and I've owned literally dozens of them, but the quality has gone downhill in the last few years and they're just not as nice as they used to be. They're tearing and pilling and stuff. While they would actually be fine for this event (because presumably you wouldn't wear it a whole bunch before the event so it would be fresh), they're just not worth the money overall.

Unfortunately, one issue with shorter cardigans and shrugs is that they virtually all have a shorter than usual sleeve which won't work for you because you want to keep your tattoo covered. Have you considered wearing a very thin silk longsleeved shirt under your dress instead of a sweater over it? This is one possibility.
posted by kate blank at 1:10 PM on October 7, 2016

J Crew Factory has several variations on the Jackie cardigan that are cheaper than normal J Crew, and the Caryn has full sleeves. I don't have first-hand experience with the Caryn but do have a couple of Claire cardigans, and they're just like the Jackies (though the fabric is not quite as nice as the Jackies of 10 years ago).
posted by snaw at 1:33 PM on October 7, 2016

I was also gonna saw J. Crew. We're very similarly built, so I know exactly what you mean about a dress's cute flattering waist getting wasted in a baggy sweater, and the Jackie doesn't do that. Agreed with the complaints on quality, tho.

Man, you are NOT kidding about the 3/4 sleeve thing!! NONE OF THESE SWEATERS I'M LOOKING UP HAVE WRISTS!!!

From Aritzia, who I only splurge on for fall/winter stuff because Chicago sucks and decently made warm unique pieces get a lot of use:

This only comes in grey but it has long sleeves and I can vouch for Aritzia alpaca stuff being really cozy and warm but it does pill.

Another expensive wool one but it does come in black. Have not bought anything in this knit from them but as noted their quality tends to be a little better.

This has a tie around the waist which is not what you want but would look cute (and dressy) with a fit & flare.

This is described as a shrunken cardigan which is intriguing - why the hell did they dress this model in a black skirt, though
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:39 PM on October 7, 2016

Boden has some nice cropped cardigans. Just make sure it doesn't say something about extended shipping time on the item (which usually means it's from the UK).

Note: Not vanity sized. If you are decided between two sizes pick the larger one.
posted by typecloud at 2:08 PM on October 7, 2016

It is more than your target price, but Bloomingdale's has a cropped cardigan that might work if all else fails.
posted by gudrun at 2:10 PM on October 7, 2016

Best answer: There are some on Modcloth - this might work.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:26 AM on October 9, 2016

Response by poster: Hey everyone, thank you so much for your suggestions. I walked around Michigan Avenue for a couple hours during lunch yesterday and struck out on the cardigan front. The only cardis I found were at Nordstrom (where they were $98 and $228 respectively) and LOFT (where I could have gotten a grey one for like $20 but their sizing is ridiculous and even the XS was a bit baggy on me) and none of those were really short enough. It was really frustrating - I tried all your suggestions that were in walking distance, plus Marshall's, TJ Maxx, H&M, Banana Republic, LOFT, Ann Taylor, and a second Nordstrom Rack location. I work in the goddamn shopping capital of the Midwest and still no luck - plenty of pullover sweaters but cardigans are just not in style at all this year, unless they are of the long slouchy "boyfriend" variety.

What I ended up buying was something completely different - this pinky-beige cropped jacket from, of all places, Forever 21. (The sleeves are plenty long if you're not a 6' tall model - if anything, they are *too* long.) I suspect it will be a little annoying to eat dinner in, but I kind of like how the edgier structured look will contrast with the sweet lacy dress. It was in a hidden corner in the last store I checked on my way back to my office in defeat, because of course.

Marking Bibliogrrl's as best answer because if I hadn't found anything in person, I think that Modcloth one is what I would have ordered, but I thank you all so much for your efforts to help. <3
posted by misskaz at 7:14 AM on October 11, 2016

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