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When the temperatures plunge, getting dressed to impress can take on a whole new struggle factor—but bulky coats and lumpy sweaters don't have to define your cold-weather style. Swap out your cute summer dresses for one of the season's best knit dresses, paired with knee-high boots (opens in new tab) and a fun statement earring. Feeling bold? Play with proportion by wearing a calf-length style over your fave denim. Trust us, it works!
Elizabeth von der Goltz, former global buying director at Net-a-Porter (opens in new tab) and current chief commercial officer of MatchesFashion (opens in new tab), explains why a knit or sweater dress is your new no-brainer investment piece. "Knitting was one of the earliest ways to make clothes. The earliest known knitted items date back to the 11th century in regions of Egypt," she tells Marie Claire of the knit's origins.
Citing a resurgence among consumers, von der Goltz says, "Nanushka's Cruise 2019 knitted knot dress sold out within three weeks." Since, the brand has continued to debut new (and highly coveted) versions each season, like its mock-neck Canaan wool-blend midi and collard Flora maxi. Many brands are doing the same, like Jacquemus, Victor Glemaud, Proenza Schouler, Simon Miller, Hanifa, A.L.C., and many more.
But outside of just being trendy, knit dresses are an enduring style for being "easy to wear and comfortable," says von der Goltz. "It's the best way to look chic and pulled together in an effortless way." Moreover, the investment is always worth it when you find a well-made version to suit your lifestyle. "A good knit dress will not go out of style," the retail expert continues. "I love bringing them on trips; they're easy to pack (opens in new tab) for a day-to-night look."
What should you look for in a knit dress?
When styling one for fall, von der Goltz suggests "pairing a knit dress with a great slouch or shaft boot and a menswear-inspired coat draped over [your] shoulders." Keep your favorites in rotation through winter by adding more layers, like a warm puffer coat (opens in new tab) and cashmere scarf (opens in new tab). Then, come spring, peel off the coats in favor of a light jacket, such as a blazer or anorak, with pretty flats or ankle boots to finish. And in summer—yep, they work year-round!—opt for a lightweight cut-out design with sneakers? Or, go with a simple tank silhouette and your favorite sandals.
From heavyweight wool and warm cashmere to lightweight ribbed designs, keep scrolling to shop the best knit dresses currently topping our lists.
THE ROUND-NECK KNIT DRESS
A round-neck midi should be part of every knit dress collection, ideally in a neutral color like this versatile shade of beige.
THE TURTLENECK KNIT DRESS
A turtleneck knit dress is unquestionably the ultimate winter style. Accessorize with tights, tall boots, and your warmest coat.
THE CARDIGAN KNIT DRESS
This thick-knit cardigan dress crafted from Korean acrylic yarn is a signature style from the size-inclusive label, Hanifa.
THE MAXI KNIT DRESS
Nanushka's Flora knit dress is polished yet cozy, featuring a pointed collar and a loose, maxi fit.
THE CUT-OUT KNIT DRESS
A.L.C.'s Clara cut-out knit dress is an elevated way to show a sliver of midriff.
THE STRIPED KNIT DRESS
Knit dresses are at the crux of Victor Glemaud's collections, including this striped mini style with a '70s feel.
THE HALF-ZIP KNIT DRESS
The half-zip has steadily gained popularity over the past couple of seasons, making it an essential knit style for cozy moments. Wear yours with plush socks at home and sneakers when running around.
THE V-NECK KNIT DRESS
Cue this pretty pale blue knit dress for occasions like a bridal shower, birthday brunch, or dinner date—the choice is yours to finish with heels, boots, or flats.
THE EVERYDAY KNIT DRESS
The equivalent to your favorite T-shirt dresses, crafted from a luxurious cashmere-wool blend. It's a throw-on-and-go style you can wear just about anywhere, with boots, heels, or sneakers.
THE WRAP KNIT DRESS
A wrap knit dress is another staple. Style this one for work or occasions with a slouchy or tall leather boot in cool weather. Then, swap for strappy sandals with the change of season.
THE CABLE-KNIT DRESS
Look to a heavyweight cable knit dress in chilly weather. Team yours with tall boots and tights one day, and layer over jeans the next.
THE TANK KNIT DRESS
Say hello to your ultimate summer knit dress crafted from lightly ribbed fabric. A bright lemon-y hue, tank silhouette, and low scoop back embody the season's joyful laid-back vibes.
THE BLACK KNIT DRESS
Feast your eyes on the LBD anchor to your knit dress collection, featuring a pretty sweetheart neckline and corset-inspired bodice.
THE CASHMERE KNIT DRESS
The way you feel about a cashmere sweater will unquestionably apply to a dress knitted from luxe fibers—worth every penny and so warm in the cold.
THE SHORT-SLEEVE KNIT DRESS
This short-sleeve knit dress is suited to warm weather—for an effortless look, style yours with flats and a woven bag.
THE TWO-TONE KNIT DRESS
Preppy with a modern twist, this two-tone knit dress will instantly liven up your outfit lineup.
THE POLO KNIT DRESS
Style this rib-knit mini (featuring so-cool strapped sleeves) with sneakers and a baseball cap for a modern off-duty mood.
THE TIE-WASIT KNIT DRESS
Highlight your waist in this wrap-tie knit dress. Decorate the V-neckline with a couple of layered necklaces.
THE PLEATED KNIT DRESS
This pretty pleated knit dress is so sophisticated for work, crafted from cashmere with a touch of silk.
THE STATEMENT-MAKING KNIT DRESS
From intarsia designs to vibrant color-blocking and bold stripes, like this Christopher John Rogers masterpiece, you'll want a statement-making knit dress on standby when you're dressing for an event at a moment's notice.
A version of this story appeared in the September 2019 issue of Marie Claire.
Megan DiTrolio is the editor of features and special projects at Marie Claire, where she oversees all career coverage and writes and edits stories on women’s issues, politics, cultural trends, and more. In addition to editing feature stories, she programs Marie Claire’s annual Power Trip conference and Marie Claire’s Getting Down To Business Instagram Live franchise.
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