Restyling a Mannequin – Novelty Sweaters

Happy Wednesday ladies. Today’s mannequin is wearing a lovely outfit but it’s not my style so I thought it might be fun to restyle it and explain why I’m choosing what I am.

When my kids were young, I wore earrings and a necklace in the shape of Christmas lights. I also threaded a bell onto each shoelace of my red boots. The bulbs were artisan-made in a gorgeous ceramic, but still, I’m not the same woman now and I want my clothes to reflect that.

Our clothes speak before we ever open our mouths. What we wear is how we control the message our clothes are sending so people know who we are and how we want to be treated.

As always, you can click through the red text for more info and to shop the item. Thanks for shopping through my links and helping to support my business.


This outfit is perfectly fine, but I wouldn’t wear such an obvious novelty sweater so I tried several other looks.


My first look takes away the novelty sweater. I’m wearing corduroy leggings and a matching sweater which picks up the colors in the faux fur collar. Wearing a column of color is always slimming and clean-lined so it’s more elegant. Coincidentally, my Rothy’s cheetah flats are a nice shoe for this outfit.


This Fair Isle sweater is more my speed for a sweater that looks festive. It reminds me of the sweaters I knit my husband and son, 38 years ago, and is a classic design.

I don’t hate the look of these red cords on me but knowing my aversion to red, I’d likely prefer them in ivory (they were out of my size). I would wear this outfit with my Lexi boots because the pant legs would slip over the top of these pants.


If I wanted to do a tiny bit of holiday embellishment I would choose this Reindeer tee because it’s understated and I could easily toss the wrap over my shoulder to hide it. This outfit also has fewer colors which I’m more comfortable with when adding a novelty item. The pants are styled like 5 pocket jeans so very casual.


Festive is dialed way back in this outfit. This plaid shirt has a tiny metallic thread running through it but it’s otherwise just a button-down shirt. The website doesn’t mention the lurex thread, but it was on mine:)

Do you wear novelty sweaters? How would you style what this mannequin is wearing?


Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

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  1. I just purchased a couple of Fair Isle sweaters from Talbots — haven’t arrived yet. I like everything about the model’s outfit except the reindeer — too girly for me — and think all the colors play nicely together. Jennifer, can you explain what’s going on with the sizing for jegging and pants as you are wearing different sizes? I’m petite between a 6 (usual size) and a 4. I like the red outfit on you a lot, but I think I’d have trouble adding red into the lineup. On the other hand, T’s has amazing bright blue cords, that I think I actually could use. Go figure.

    1. The 4’s were all they had left in my size so I shoehorned myself in them but they are too tight. I would wear a petite 6, so order your regular size.

  2. I really enjoyed this post today. I’m not a fan of novelty sweaters or Fair Isle Sweaters either. I really like the last two looks, as I’m still in the gray/black mode, although I could see myself wearing the camel/peach look. I can’t believe the holidays are upon us, and it’s a good reminder to get to shopping!

  3. You were having a great hair day, even when pulling sweaters on over your head! 🙂

    1. I was:) Gel and mousse, then hair spray! The works

  4. Leslie Greaves Radloff says:

    Not into decorated/ holiday sweaters at all. But, if I were I’d head to a resale or vintage shop to find something that was more unique.

  5. Not a sweater question but a Rothys question. I too have a bunion and was wondering how the sizing is for the Rothys and how they work with bunions .

    1. They don’t stretch much but they will mold to your feet. I went up to 9 1/2. If you’re on the edge, always size up with them.

  6. I hope this marks the end of the “ugly Christmas sweater”. I much prefer sweaters like you’ve shown here. The Icelandic lopapeysa in natural wool colors is still going strong. Fair isle sweaters that give a nod to holidays in festive season colors, but can be worn outside of the holiday, might be the best of all worlds. Fair Isle sweaters are a classic.

    1. I love Fair Isle sweaters! So classic

  7. Cath🇨🇦 says:

    I expected to see the Fair Isle sweater make your shoulders look disproportionately wider, Jennifer, as you are right about being an ‘inverted triangle’ (which really only shows in certain pictures) , but surprisingly it doesn’t . Hmmm.
    Suits you, and you wear the bright colours well. There were some lovely sweaters showing up in shops in Cornwall and Wiltshire when traveling recently , and although the colours were gorgeous muted fall shades, I thought the knit patterns would exaggerate my bust and shoulders.
    I especially like the tan with the pumpkin puffer vest , but would like to ditch the hood for a soft luxurious scarf, pulling those colours together.

    Talbots does such a good job of coordinating their lines…usually very stylish and seasonal without the kitsch. Just wish they’d give us a break in shipping to 🇨🇦… so expensive.
    Nordstrom and Chico’s are more accessible, and I wasn’t aware of these brands until discovering your blog last spring! Shall I blame you for the dip in my savings account since June !? 😀 ( Re : prior blog… come for tea sometime and we’ll visit my newly edited closet…fun!)

    1. I would love to come for tea:) If I wore cream-colored cords with the Fair Isle sweater it would make my shoulders look wider. The red visually advances so it enlarges the look of my bottom half.

  8. Lorrie Orr says:

    The red cords look wonderful on you with the Fair Isle sweater. I would definitely choose this interpretation of the novelty sweater!

  9. I’m going to defend the quirky reindeer sweater. I like the way it is styled on the Talbots site with the orange blazer and jeans. The blazer tones things down. The reindeer is just peeking out. Now, if this sweater was bright red and green and was worn with goofy holiday earrings the look becomes costume-y.

    1. Many women love this sweater, it is cute

    2. Lily, I love your “quirky reindeer “ description for this sweater! You know, we decorate our homes to celebrate the holidays and I feel that sometimes a bit of whimsy helps keep us young at heart. The colors in this sweater don’t scream “holiday” but offer a little nod to the season.

  10. I think the outfit as styled is very cute. I pass on novelty sweaters and tops, too, but absolutely love fair isle sweaters. I purchased a pair of red pants a few years ago with a nice texture and look forward to wearing them in the winter months. It has been surprising how many ways they can be styled and can be a pick me up on a drizzly day.

  11. Marin Mattingly says:

    I like the original sweater, but I would prefer it without the reindeer. That reindeer limits the months I could wear the sweater. I would pass on the monochrome outfit; probably because I don’t like the color. I love the red sweater. It’s festive but wearable from Nov – Feb. The red pants look great with it but not sure I’d buy them. I’d have to think about how they would fit into the rest of my wardrobe.

  12. I love Talbots and I love coral so I like the outfit on the mannequin except for the reindeer. It makes the outfit too specific for the holidays for me so I say no to cutesy sweaters. However, I did buy a fair isle sweater in black and white last year which I wear with black jeans—simple but still cute. Ive learned about the column of color from you and I’m going to do more of that. I like the tan under the vest and probably would never have thought to use that color with coral so I will be experimenting thanks to you. I bought the coral puffer jacket and cant wait for my husband to give it to me for Christmas hee hee. You look great in the gray outfit with the ruana but I don’t think I can handle the inconvenience of having something draped around me. You show them often and they look so classy but I wonder if they’re difficult to wear? Once again thanks for a great post.

    1. I often toss one side over my shoulder, then bring the other side forward over the top in the front. That keeps the one over my shoulder front “undoing”

  13. I’m not a fan of the first mannequin – the colors are too sherbet-y for me! But I LOVE the last picture; you look wonderful in the dark blue pants, button down, and poncho! I have to disagree with you on the dark red pants – you look great!

  14. I decided some time ago that my closet only has room for one holiday top, a navy sweatshirt, so it’s also practical. I do like your restyles better than the mannequin, except the poncho. Hair, glasses, earrings, it might take me 5 minutes to start looking messy with the on and offing. But that’s just me. Now I do have a novelty holiday sock collection!

    1. HI, Jackie, no it’s not just you! I dislike ponchos because they mess up everything when you take them off — or you get an earring stuck in them. Also, I find ponchos and ruanas to be unsafe to drive in, and where I live, you drive. There’s also a strong wind off the ocean, which also makes wearing them impossible.

  15. The Ruana and reindeer Tee is my favorite so I think it’s the styling rather than the design that would lead me to pass by the mannequin. I’m not a fan of puffer vests and jackets but I did like the ways they showed the sweater styled on the website.

  16. Susan Haggerty says:

    I would wear exactly what the mannequin is wearing. It looks denim on the bottom in the picture. I’s probably wear a dk grey or black. Love all the outfits you styled!

    1. I never wear novelty tops. Just too cutesy! Instead I would/do wear a red cashmere sweater. I love red!

  17. LOVE the Fair Isle Sweater & Red pants- very festive! The peach/fur vest & tan shirt/pants looks fabulous on you as well! I try to avoid “novelty clothes” but for the holidays I sometimes make an exception.

  18. I like the restyles much better than the mannequin. The sweater even with a puffy vest would not be warm enough in my area. The restyles are not only more attractive but make better sense. I broke down and bought an understated tee for the holidays last year, but I just might start a collection by purchasing the gray one. While I like the look of both the ruana and the poncho, I just do not find them comfortable to wear. Both outfits look great on you.

  19. The reindeer sweater on the mannequin is not for me. I like the fur vest ,but would choose another color.
    I really like Talbot’s , but I don’t buy novelty tops anymore. I bought a shaker sweater there that I really like.
    I like how you put the different outfits together. The poncho outfit looks good.

  20. Joann Czarny says:

    If I had to wear the outfit on the mannequin, I would just prefer the sweater not have the reindeer. Although cute, I feel at my age it seems childish for my style. The color way is pretty, but the peachy tones would not be my first choice. The alternative outfits you have styled, tick all boxes of elegant and stylish, which is more the look I am going for.

  21. Actually I do own one novelty sweater. It has a polar bear 🐻‍❄️ starting on the middle of the front and continuing on the back. Background is ice blue with a bit of a shine to it. I wear black leggings to match the bears nose.
    Very cute and not too over done.
    I do like all your outfit including Miss Mannequin. I like the sweater with the deer on it because it has that peach color instead of red or green. It is something that is not just for the Holidays.

  22. I think you look great in the red and blue outfits. I don’t care for the color of the vest, but I think the outfit looks good for someone who does like those colors. I concur that the understated grey tee is better and doesn’t look like you would be entering the “ugly sweater contest.”

    1. Those ugly sweater contest are hilarious

  23. Rose Monty says:

    Hi Jennifer, I am not a fan of novelty sweaters or tops either. I agree with the comment that the ivory vest would be more attractive with this sweater. The vest is not a color I would wear, but it might look good with jeans and a plain white turtleneck.

  24. I agree with many of the comments.
    1. No longer want cutesy/holiday sweaters.
    2. All one column of color much better.
    3. Red cords look nice on you!
    4. As for cold feet. Wear Lexi boots with a very light boot.

    Now for my request. Could we please see how you organize your closet.
    Thank you.

    1. I have a very small closet! It’s also dark but I will try to get a photo.
      I hang everything including scarves snd jeans.

  25. I have to say you look fabulous in that fair isle sweater and red cords!
    The look is classic, as well as youthful and fresh. Dare I say it makes you look 10 years younger!

    1. Those bright colors are youthful and cheery for sure

  26. I’m not a fan of novelty sweaters, but I really like the first one. For me, it’s the vest that’s too much of a statement. I’d keep the sweater and wear it with either dark gray or an ivory vest. My favorite of all of these outfits is the reindeer sweater with the striped ruana—it’s so pretty on you.

    1. I liked that too. Festive but not too cutesy for my style.

  27. Kathleen Ayers says:

    The style on the mannequin looks fine in terms of color coordination, but the holiday sweaters just aren’t my cup of tea. The other sweaters you are wearing are better for a seasonal look, though I still tend to avoid clothes like that. However, I disagree with your comment about the red cords–you look great in them!

    One thing continues to bother me–if it’s cold enough to be wearing sweaters and cords, why are the skinny leg pants so tight that I can’t wear socks? My feet get very cold without socks, yet the clothing designers make it nearly impossible to wear socks. Surely I’m not the only one with cold feet!

    1. If I lived in a cold climate I’d wear socks over the bottom of the pants and stuff my feet into booties

  28. I love the outfit. I don’t particularly like large animals or cutesy sweaters but this one appeals to me. I love the colors. However, each way you restyled the pieces are wonderful also. This is always a fun post for me.

  29. I like the sweater and outfit but I would prefer a gray vest instead of the coral.

    1. I agree! This looks like a sweater that would be fun to wear but not too over the top. I see that the vest comes in a gorgeous ivory color also. I would wear that combo.
      Love all your retakes on this look! Very fun blog this morning!

  30. Paulette Levy says:

    I think the problem here might be the sweater. I’d prefer this outfit with a plain stripe top or even a solid white turtleneck. The tan pant behind the mannequin might be another option. I like the column of color you’ve presented with tan the dominant shade. I’ve nothing against the black pant actually,but I can see how some people would . Booties would be great here!