published Monday, November 19th, 2012

Sweater designs reach to thighs, knees in Chattanooga

  • photo
    A knee-length tiered sweater by Fever, $88, can be worn over clothing or independently as a sweater dress. Fashion, courtesy of Belk, modeled by Denise Leach.
    Photo by Allison Love.
    enlarge photo

Sweaters have taken on new shapes and lengths for fall and winter.

The new midthigh to below-the-knee lengths, perfect for wearing inside and out, are ideal for mild Southern winters.

"In our region of the country, the sweater can often serve as a viable outerwear option and a trend-right completer piece at the same time," said Arlene Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction at Belk.

The updated sweater, with styles that include belting, loose fits, ruffles and faux-fur trims, is the perfect piece to update last year's wardrobe.

"The style quotient has definitely been raised," Goldstein said about the look. "In fashion, the eye must adjust to newness, and that's exactly what has happened. A bold simplicity, showcasing East-West silhouettes, high-low hems and dolman sleeves, has emerged. The items are approachable, wearable and modern, coexisting with more traditional pullovers and cardigans that have been updated with exaggerated stitches, fringe detail, fur detail and open work."

Gail Roberson Secor, a local antiques dealer, said these sweater coats can be perfect for fall and mild winter days,

"I like the longer length, which can give a leaner appearance," she said. "The midthigh-length, paired with either jeans and boots or skirt/tights and boots, is a very trendy style."

Shelley Ellison-Black, a judicial assistant in Chattanooga, said she prefers the midthigh sweater trends showcased during New York Fashion Week, particularly those of two top designers.

"Betsey Johnson had a model in a black midthigh sweater with cream-colored skulls and crossbones paired with cream-colored tights and black, calf-length leather boots. It was an awesome combination," she said. "Michael Kors paired a cream-colored turtleneck midthigh length sweater with a sparkly gold flowing skirt. It was very beautiful and classy."

Some shoppers have discovered the quirky, colorful, "reconstructed" sweater coats made by New York-based artist Kat Sullivan ( The artists sells the coats, mostly made from recycled sweaters, at a designated time on the website.

"These are my original hoodie designs, which have evolved with much love over the past 20 years of my wanderings," the artist wrote on her profile page. "I try to infuse my work with the bohemian spirit in which I live my life."

Sullivan said that every couple of weeks, she posts "a big collection of coats in every shape and color combination." There is no waiting list, she said. "You just have to show up at the exact time and buy it. They tend to sell out in just a few minutes."

Sullivan's sweater coats can be viewed before sales at The next sale will be at 9 p.m. on Nov. 26.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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