Sweaters. Even the word conjures visions of crackling fireplaces, steaming mugs of tea, and nights spent curled on the couch away from the cold. Because sweaters are cozy. They’re warm. They’re everything great about fall, wrapped into a nubby knit package. But this season, fashion is determined to ruin all that.
Type “cold-shoulder sweater” into shopping search engine ShopStyle and you’ll get nearly 2,000 results—all iterations of summer’s ubiquitous shoulder-cutout trend, rendered in cable-knit, cashmere, and wool. In all other respects, they’re regular sweaters—innocuous turtlenecks, slouchy pullovers, stretchy cropped knits. Except, of course, sweaters generally have the advantage of keeping one’s shoulders warm; these do not.
Unlike off-the-shoulder styles (1,700 results), cold-shoulder sweaters don’t tend to bare décolletage—they’re full-coverage apart from the conspicuous holes in either arm, some long and droopy, others revealing neat round circles of flesh. Which begs the question: Is shoulder ventilation really something we’ve been missing in our knitwear? Or are we just asking to be awkwardly cold from the boobs up?
Some of the styles even combine tank-top straps with long sleeves, necessitating a strapless bra—something most of us barely have the patience for even when it comes to formalwear. Now we want to subject ourselves to them in the season when layering practically becomes our national pastime? My feelings about that, in GIF form:
Now, ok, I get that the bare shoulder thing is sexy—I’m even on board with off-the-shoulder sweaters (especially because they can be adjusted up or down depending on how cold it is).
It’s more the sheer preponderance of the cutout styles that I find a little laughable: you can drop more than a grand on Vera Wang’s shoulderless cardigan, or pick up Topshop’s more budget-friendly ribbed option (with ruffles around the holes, just in case they weren’t obvious enough on their own). If you’re into asymmetry, Tibi’s oversize knit, slashed on one arm but not the other, may be just the ticket, while Jonathan Simkhai’s fringe-sleeve mock-neck should appeal to anyone trying to confuse the men in their life (cutouts: sexy! mop wrists: ?!?)
Feel like your shoulders have been overheating lately? Or just less of a skeptic than I? Shop 17 of the literal thousands of cold-shoulder sweaters on sale right now in the gallery below.