Sweater of Substance: Dark Angel

Continuing our Professional Education Series (CME credit for the doctors, CLE credit for the lawyers) on Sweaters of Substance — i.e., sweaters of sufficient weight and distinction that they can stand in for a jacket — I give you: The Dark Angel.

For anyone who has not looked at the Internet in the last 18 months: big sleeves are in, and they’ve been getting bigger and bigger.
When I purchased this sweater last year (January 2019), I thought the shoulders were comical — charmingly, but absurdly, so — not imagining what would be coming. These ruffles barely register when compared to the looks from New York Fashion Week 2020.
Just a little flair

WWMOD is the question and the answer
I liked the sweater, but couldn’t figure out where/how to wear it in 2019. It’s boxy and short, ending just above my hipbones.
It wasn’t until 2020 that I asked myself the right question and then saw what needed to be done.
Say it with me: What Would Michelle Obama Do?

This sweater needed a belt to give it a little shape. But it needed a special, simple belt because . . . the ruffles, cables, and gold buttons are already a circus of visual activity.
The sweater needed something calm.
Clearly a massive buckle would not have done

Ta-da! A minimalist cross between an Obi belt and a corset belt.
Kick-A$$: The Next Generation*

You can see that the original Kick-A$$ belt, with its silver-tone buckles and hinges would have been too much. A narrow belt would have gotten lost. This Jil Sander belt is just the thing.
Let’s break it down. This belt is fabricated from a smooth, matte calfskin: no texture, no shine. It’s a nice, wide belt, except for the ties holding it closed — which is an ingenious choice. Instead of creating a horizontal band that would shorten my torso and make me look squat, the belt is creating a cinched waist. Indeed, my waist looks more cinched than it is.
Clever, clever belt is creating an illusion

Thus accompanied, I am now getting so much enjoyment out of the sweater.
Please, come right up and run your fingers through these ruffles. They are delightful.
Interestingly, wearing a coat refreshes rather than suppresses these ruffles

One final note: Do you see my super-long hair? I let it grow for 11 weeks and asked my stylist to shape it up in January. While I am not willing to bow to current trends (unless they are flattering!), I do want to look like a person who has a purposeful haircut (as opposed to a person with hair), so I asked him, “Is this a style? What would you call it?” He said, without missing a beat, “It’s a round, layered bob.”
Sweater: Claire V x Demy Lee Nora Cardigan (still available, though I got mine on sale from Shopbop last year); Pants: Ann Taylor; Belt: Jil Sander from YOOX; Shoes: Taryn Rose; Bag: Humawaca
* Also take note of my pinstriped pants. You can only see the stripes in this close-up photo, but the pattern creates a little relief from all black.

7 thoughts on “Sweater of Substance: Dark Angel”

  1. There’s definitely a certain superhero/ninja-like quality to this outfit. If someone were having a fashion crisis, you might magically appear from the shadows to proffer a belt of the right style and proportion, or guide them to that perfect scarf which they’d forgotten was in their closet. Thank you, Dark Angel, thank you!

  2. After Thanksgiving I bought a sweater with huge balloon sleeves, only to discover that I could barely wedge my arms into my winter coat. I live in Chicago. Still wearing the sweater though because it’s so fun and crazy.

  3. Thanks for pointing out the ingenious use of ties which does indeed eliminate the horizontal band look. This will be the perfect solution for a dress I’ve just purchased. A thin belt looks insubstantial but a wide belt interferes with the vertical line of the dress. Now, to find one….

    Always appreciate your insightful comments, made with humour and grace.


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