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Novelty sweaters show your personality

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

Novelty knitwear allows a woman to give the world a message.

“Novelty sweaters are definitely a trend worth paying attention to,” says Josh Saterman, Macy's vice president and fashion director. “Words, animal inspiration and symbols all speak to a higher global trend around self-expressionism and individuality. These sweaters allow someone to express how they feel or what makes them laugh.”

There are two silhouettes that work well with this trend, Saterman says.

• The crewneck sweater or fitted sweatshirt should hit at the waist. It works when paired with a skirt or skinny jeans and can be dressed up or down.

• The second silhouette is tunic-length or maybe even slightly oversized. This silhouette looks spot on with leggings and boots.

Women should embrace the novelty sweater, says Suzanne Mauro, a stylist accredited by the Association of Image Consultants International and producer of “Style Everyday with Suz” on PCTV Pittsburgh.

“They have great versatility. And a pattern with personality can liven up even the most basic jean and pull everything together,” Mauro says. “Whatever your age and shape, there's a novelty top meant just for you. Try and go for those that suit your personality and lifestyle.”

For a chic look, don't be afraid to combine a novelty top with a print bottom, Mauro says, as long as the colors are in the same family. A novelty sweater also works well with leather jeans or skirts.

The novelty sweater has evolved from a sweatshirt trend, says Marissa Rubin, senior market editor for People Style Watch.

“Even if you don't want to go with a large animal face or a bold saying, just choosing a sweater with a small graphic can be fun, too,” Rubin says. “These sweaters are unique and a way to express yourself and your personal style.”

Sweaters are a year-round staple that all women own and purchase without much thought, says Gwendolyn Covington, a style editor for

“The trend right now with graphic prints, writing or even animals printed on sweaters is all a nod to '90s fashion,” Covington says. “In that decade, (we) dressed down and (sweaters were) worn by the conservatives as well as the ‘cool' crowd. Like the 1990s, we see sweaters rise again in bold colors, abstract prints and bold symbols or imagery that makes a very fashionable statement.”

The best way to wear the novelty sweater is with a dressier item or something with shine or texture, Covington says. Pair it with sleek leather leggings and booties if you want to be on the edgier side, or pop your sweater over a sequined mini-skirt with heels for a more luxe look.

In the past, celebrities were the driving force behind most trends. These days, women have found a sense of personal style through vintage shopping, people watching and bloggers – which, Covington says, are “the new celebrities.”

“I think that when a woman sees a celebrity wearing a novelty sweater, it is now more validation for a trend she has already picked up on, not necessarily that she will be influenced by what they are wearing,” Covington says.

Graphics is a huge trend in fashion, says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director.

“We are seeing a lot of graphic knits and prints and patterns,” Andrews says. “There might be one iconic graphic element to the sweater which is fun, like a snowflake or a penguin or a word. It is a take on the graphic T-shirt. A novelty sweater makes a pretty bold statement. If you choose one, make that be the focal point of your outfit and keep accessories minimal and keep what you wear on the bottom fairly simple. These sweaters can become conversation pieces.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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