The best thing about winter is that it's sweater season. Sweaters are warm, comfy and nowadays sometimes even cheap and stylish. The worst thing about winter is that it's harder to wear dresses, due to the fact that it's freezing outside and your whole being is focused on avoiding unexpected drafts.
This is where sweater dresses come in. Sweater dresses are essentially the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of genius style mash-ups. (Your sweater is in my dress! Your dress is in my peanut butter. Or something like that.)
These are a few of our favorite sweater dresses of the season, so far. Because we are cheap -- er, thrifty -- none cost more than $50.
Remember a few years ago, when people started saying that the '80s were back? We're well into a new century since then, and they still haven't gone away. The slouchy shirt/sweater dress look is one of the better things the '80s gave us. Wear this and hear vintage Madonna in your head all day long. Comes in black, berry, gray and red. Alloy, $39.90 - $41.90.
American Eagle Outfitters
The sexy version of that sweater your mom knit you when you were a kid, the fair isle sweater dress begs to be belted. Partly because that much print can look busy without a belt to draw people's eyes, and partly because, yay, belts! American Eagle Outfitters, $49.50.
Usually, ASOS is one of those budget clothing sites that isn't. The clothes are cute as a lamb in a pile of kittens, but you'll spend plenty on them. That's what makes this dress such a steal. Under $40! On ASOS! It's a collision of awesome things. Comes in three colors: brown, red, and blue. ASOS, $38.41.
The cowl-neck is definitely the big feature on this (relatively) cheap sweater dress. Comes in charcoal gray and something called "light earthly heather," which is a lovely shade of lavender gray as yet unrepresented in our closet. Old Navy, $46.94.
Fair Isle Sweater Dress no. 2 on our list, this dress gets major points for having pockets. Why don't all dresses have pockets? Seriously. Delias, $39.50
For some people, there's no point in wearing a dress if it doesn't have ruffles on it. For these folks, the sweater dress is a rough deal. Generally, you can either have a sweater dress or you can have a ruffle-y dress, but you can't have both at the same time. This sweater dress is the exception. It has a lot of ruffles. (Seriously: a lot.) JCPenney, $49.99.
We're not quite brave enough for the striped versions (it comes in both black and blue stripes and brown and white) but the plain black sweater dress is a great wardrobe staple for winter. It's easy to dress up with bright tights and accessories and chic and simple all on its own. Old Navy, $46.94.
The double-tab detail is the coolest part of this faux-wrap sweater dress. A caveat with this one: Make sure you order your size, and no smaller. It's a fine line between trendy and cheap, and buying it a size too small will definitely tip you over into cheap territory. In the right size, and with the right leggings and boots, though, it'll make you look like a total rock star. (An expensive one.) Dillards, $49.00.
There is no escaping the Fair Isle this season. There is, apparently, a way to escape the maxi-dress and midi-length skirts. And that way is this dress, which is arguably the shortest dress we've seen this season. Ladies with fabulous legs, rejoice. ASOS, $34.92.
OK, so animal print
isn't for everyone, no matter how popular it gets. It's totally for us, though, and we've never seen it in a sweater dress before. Who knew Old Navy could be fashion forward? Comes in five colors, including two different shades of leopard print. Old Navy, $44.94.