Non-Basic Basics: Oversized & High-Waisted

Left: Jigsaw Waffle Stitch Batwing Sweater | Right: Miss Selfridge Grey Acid Super High Waist Jeans

It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of the recent craze for “basics.” Don’t get me wrong: I believe in the primary tenants of basics-dom. Yes, one should have a perfect white T-shirt, black turtleneck and pair of jeans.

But basics are, by their nature, boring. A plain sweater with jeans? Snoozeville. I am not alone in this viewpoint: Gap’s “Dress Normal” campaign, which championed basics, completely flopped. (Everything is currently on clearance.)

But basic doesn’t have to mean boring.

Batwing Cashmere Sweater: Theory (Outlet Mall) | Super High-Waist Jeans: Topshop (Secondhand) | Flats: Jenni Kayne | Tote: WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie (Bird)
Batwing Cashmere Sweater: Theory (Outlet Mall) | Super High-Waist Jeans: Topshop (Secondhand) | Flats: Jenni Kayne | Tote: WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie (Bird)

When I spent Saturday in Central Park, I juiced up a simple combination of jeans and a sweater. The twist? The sweater was a cashmere pullover with an exaggerated batwing silhouette, and the jeans were so high-waisted, they were practically a denim corset.

The sweater’s expertly constructed slouchiness is the best way to pay homage to the “oversized” trend. In most of its incarnations, the oversized trend is VERY difficult to wear — unless you are the height of a Brontosaurus and the weight of a toaster oven. (This version would look horrible on me.)


Because this sweater has definition — i.e., a cinched waist and tapered sleeves — I’m not drowning in a vat of yarn. The super high-rise of the jeans adds to the exaggerated waistline, transforming an uber-basic outfit into a super-feminine, not-too-baggy 1970s send-up.

You can try this look with the items below — both available now. (The navy sweater is $190.00 and available here. The high-waister jeans (with an insane high rise) are $60 and available here.)

What do you consider your non-basic basics? What makes them special?

Right: Jigsaw Waffle Stitch Batwing Sweater | Left: Miss Selfridge Grey Acid Super High Waist Jeans
  • Andrea Billups

    i love your proportions. For ladies who are not as thin as you are, that look would be difficult to pull off – and look chic. I found this bat=wing-esque version at H&M this summer — and bought it in hot pink. it looks lovely over a pair of tights and doesn’t over-power. typically, i’d never buy anything there but this comes in several colors and is a nice, thin yet warm (with a cami under) layering. j’adore!

    • Diana @ The Style Pragmatist

      Oh that’s a cool twist — almost like a sweater dress, and the leggings act as tights! Sweaters can be so tough — too bulks, and you look and move like a marshmallow, and too thin, they don’t function in cooler temps. If you found a sweater that works for you, I say buy it in every color!

  • Andrea Billups

    I think the only winter challenge, tho, is finding outerwear that you can WEAR with a bigger sweater. I always feel like a big jet puff marshmallow for sure in a sweater AND coat. the best utilitarian coat i ever owned was a maxi-length London Fog. Hardly chic — on balance — but it traveled everywhere, especially reporting on the road. I’d love a re-working of that coat with some spice!