Add a dress for winter chic: Staying stylish this season

Jun 07, 2024
Source: Tilly Smith Dix

Who remembers a time when women were not allowed to wear pants to work? That certainly put us in a rebellious mood which totally defied the objective that employers wanted us to look feminine. Yet soon we wore mini-skirts, which often made it difficult to sit down, for obvious reasons. Maybe that was the plan, hie…

Then the world changed and pants, already made fashionable by trailblazers such as Coco Chanel, gave us a stronger, powerful image, especially in suit form. We could take on a man’s job and be equal in the workplace, whilst still navigating our roles as women at home and in society, negotiating for equal pay.

I recall the first time I saw a woman in a classy, figure-enhancing knitted winter dress just above the knee. Her hair was in a French knot; she wore heels with pale hose and beautiful marcasite earrings. Less was more and I loved it. I was still a young girl but already appreciated the feminine, yet simply confident style. This was my beautiful much older sister in her black winter knit dress. All the other ladies at the family event wore smart pants and whilst they looked gorgeous, she stood out.

Suffice it to say, she ruined me for life. Of course, I love wearing pants, especially in the chill of winter. However, when I wear a dress, and it’s no secret I have a penchant for knitted winter dresses, I feel feminine, comfortable, and confident.

Styling dresses for winter

The advantage of a classic winter dress is it is ageless and certainly falls into the eco-conscious category of slow fashion. Do I hear someone whisper that their legs get cold when wearing a dress, even if it’s midi or maxi length?

Well, this is where we are truly able to up the ante by adding a snug pair of hose, accompanied by long or ankle boots. I love both but to be honest, my knees feel the chill, so I prefer a dress that covers my knees when I wear short boots, and favour longer boots when the dress is knee-length.

Wearing ankle boots will show off pretty calves, whilst longer boots will add sophistication to a classy dress and hide any imperfections we prefer to conceal.

The many attributes of a knitted or otherwise fabulous winter dress include longevity and versatility. Accessorising is key to changing the look and mood of an outfit. Add a belt if your waist is trim and if not, add an eye-catching scarf or necklace to draw attention away from the waist and to your face instead, ditching the belt.

In our (often) milder Australian winters, an outdoor coverup for a warm dress could simply be a poncho or wrap that will complement the outfit. If the texture of the dress is a thinner weave with fitted sleeves, a coat is ideal for the outdoor layer.

Want to wear a dress for a special occasion and prefer a pair of gorgeous shoes instead of boots? If we suffer from cold feet and our outdoor journey simply comprises a short walk from the car to the venue, a pair of heels — low or high, the choice is yours — will elevate the look.

I clear my cupboards of unwanted items at the start of winter and summer. At seventy I’m no longer keen on short dresses unless it’s summer and I’m off to the beach.

Those discarded pieces that no longer serve my style and simply don’t seem age-appropriate for me go to my family, where budding teens can pick what they love, and the rest will go to an opshop (charity shop). This recycles our wearable clothes and hopefully lightens our carbon footprint too. It also creates space for new items, which my groaning wardrobe certainly thanks me for, chuckles… nobody’s judging, right?

So, getting back to some items I thought no longer served my style, such as those well-crafted but shorter winter dresses. I recently decided to give those little numbers a quick whirl by styling them over pants.

This not only created an uber-sophisticated look, but it also added femininity to the pants, whilst creating an elongated silhouette, especially when the dress and pants were in the same hues. Those dresses are staying with me, yay! So glad I experimented before discarding those darlings. It’s like having several new outfits again!

I posted the look on my IG fashion page @Sixty_is_the_new_40 and the feedback from fashionistas from around our wonderful planet was unanimous: the look was a winner.

So, as they say on stage, when you’ve got a captive audience, play to it. I’ve continued this look and am thrilled with how elegant I feel, not to mention my legs feeling so much warmer too in the winter chill. A serendipitous compromise, which looks stylish with pretty shoes and equally classy with ankle boots. All the boxes are ticked, from comfy chic to feeling warm and fabulous…

We are fabulous and should never forget to own it, my gorgeous friends. Go forth and style your wardrobe with gusto. We’ve got this…

L-R: Pic 1: styling an argyle-print knitted mini with black jeans and a long cardigan. Pic 2: the short argyle dress with a cropped leather jacket for a more contemporary look. Pic 3: an above the knee cashmere knit dress worn over knitted pants in monotone to create an elongated silhouette, with a tan jacket and hat to add some attitude. Pic 4: the same classic black cashmere dress and pants, styled with a plaid wrap. Source: Tilly Smith Dix
L-R: Pic 5: adding a cerise wrap scarf for a pop of colour on the all-black knitted ensemble. Pic 6: the black cashmere dress and knitted pants (pants don’t need to be knitted if in the same colour as the dress), worn with a belt. Pic 7: a winter white knitted midi dress with a belt and calf-length boots. Pic 8: the same winter white dress worn without a belt, which is more forgiving if we don’t want to show off our waist. Source: Tilly Smith Dix
L-R: Pic 9: speckled knitted dress with matching belt worn with black accessories for drama. Pic 10: this shorter lavender knit dress called for black tights and ankle boots, whilst longer boots would be ideal too. The deeper purple leather jacket adds youthful panache. The shorter dress contradicts my wish for age-appropriate style, but it’s all about our mood on the day. No rules. Pic 11: grey knitted midi dress teamed with long boots and a cardi – tan and grey work well for winter. Pic 12: the shorter sleeve grey knit dress is ideal when spending time in a heated indoor space. Source: Tilly Smith Dix
L-R: Pic 13: layers in tan and grey create a warm vibe, this time with snug ankle boots. Pic 14: a long-sleeve red knit dress and soft long coat with heels will make a statement of sophistication – add red gloves for further impact. Knitted dresses currently on trend are available from Australian outlets including Seed Heritage, Showpo, Decjuba, Witchery Fashion, Trenery, and Country Road. Keep an eye out for mega winter sales for some retail therapy, wink-wink… Source: Tilly Smith Dix


Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up