Reader Tricia dropped me an e-mail with this question:
I should admit up front that I have a cardigan obsession. It’s the one thing my eye goes straight for when I shop. I do wear some cardigans alone with different-colored bottoms, but I have a couple of matching twinsets as well. I didn’t realize that was a style no-no! Can you explain why and help me out with mixing and matching some? I have a black twinset (I do wear that cardigan with other things too) as well as a pale blue one and a grassy green one. I just found out that those latter two are of a length to wear with skirts (something else I learned from your blog!) but beyond that, I’m lost. Also, they’re V-neck in both the shell and the cardi. Crew necks look terrible on me.
Twinsets aren’t a no-no at all! It’s all down to personal taste, and I am just not a fan myself, mostly due to my experience seeing women use them as a fallback option. Many women appear to view twinsets as no-brainer, ready-made outfits. In that context and without some creative finishing touches, they just don’t express much about their wearer. Many folks at the university where I used to work would throw on a solid-colored twinset and a pair of black slacks and then just … stop.
Images via Land’s End.
As with any item of clothing, it’s all about how you accessorize and style. The J.Crew folks do an amazing job of taking preppy staples and making them look fresh and current with styling and accessorization. But you don’t have to copy their styling verbatim, as it tends to involved destroyed/pegged jeans and giant, statement-y necklaces. A brooch here, a funky belt there, a little scarf action, some amazing shoes, and choosing a printed skirt instead of plain black slacks all the time can elevate those twinsets from dull to darling.
Image courtesy Talbots Woman (plus sizes)
Another way to get that classic matched look without erring on the side of boring is to wear a cardigan with a shell of matched color, but different material. Try some ruffled or raw silk, rayon, or detailed cotton voile.
But the simplest trick is to swap out shells and cardis. Of course this works best if you’ve got multiple twinsets in a variety of colors, but even if you’ve only got two I’m betting ONE is a neutral. Pull the old switcheroo, add a fun brooch or necklace, and see how much less conservative you look.
Finally, think about what else you’ve got in your closet that could go with the pieces. Any blazers to throw on over the shells? Blouses or button-downs that would look great with a cardi on top? How about getting some patterns in the mix – via scarves or tees?
For those looking to spice up the twinset look, my advice would be to just spend some time playing. Throw the twinsets on the bed, and then throw a ton of other stuff on there, too. Try it all on, even combos you’d never wear in real life, and see what grabs you!
Top image courtesy J.Crew
**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.