Modern Drop Shoulder Sweaters

I never thought I’d be a fan of drop shoulder sweaters. You know the type – the sleeves stick straight out from the body with no shaping whatsoever in the shoulders or the waist. They typically consist of four rectangles sewn together: a front, a back, and two folded rectangles for the sleeves. On the plus side, drop shoulder sweaters are incredibly simple to make! In fact, Mim recommended the basic drop shoulder sweater as an excellent choice for a complete beginner in her 7 Best Knitting Projects for Beginners post from November 2015. I thought of them as boxy nightmares from bygone days (particularly the 1980’s) until quite recently.

There’s something to be said for the coziness factor, but in my opinion, not even these attractive ladies can make these vintage drop shoulder sweaters look good. You can clearly see what a drop shoulder sweater is in that middle photo. The shoulder seam goes partway down the side of the arm because the shoulder width is equal to the body width.

It’s definitely not the most flattering of photo of yours truly, but here’s me wearing my Cullum sweater thrown on over a dress.

This summer, I knit the Cullum sweater in Sparrow from Quince & Co. as a shop sample. It doesn’t have sleeves, but it’s a standard drop-shoulder shape. Something shifted in my brain while I was working on it. Sparrow is a fingering-weight 100% linen yarn. It drapes absolutely beautifully because linen is a drapey fiber and thinner yarns are automatically more drapey. (Apparently “drapey” is not a word but I firmly believe it ought to be.) It’s nothing at all like the drop-shoulder sweaters of yore depicted above!

I’ve decided there are three factors that make the modern drop shoulder sweater more flattering than the vintage styles: 1. Thinner yarn, 2. Fibers with better drape, and 3. SLEEVE FIT! How did I never notice that all of my most reviled examples of drop shoulder sweaters all had ridiculously oversized sleeves? I’ve come around to the idea that drop shoulder sweaters can be comfy, flattering and totally stylish looking! All the best things! Here are some of my favorite modern drop shoulder sweaters on Ravelry.

First, Tegna by Caitlin Hunter. Oh my word, isn’t it dreamy? This drop-shoulder sweater is the opposite of stiff and boxy. It’s knit in a fingering weight yarn and the short sleeves are fitted.

The Barbatre sweater by Sandra Braida is knit in a DK-weight yarn, but notice that she picked a blend of viscose, cotton, linen and nylon because the drape is important! Doesn’t it look perfect for a lazy day on the beach?

The Anneke Sweater by Pam Allen looks oversized enough to be cozy, but the fitted sleeves keep it sleek looking! It’s knit in Tern from Quince & Co., a fingering-weight wool blend with silk. What’s the ultimate drapey fiber? Definitely silk.

The East or West sweater by Joji Locatelli is one of my favorites! I’ve shared it with you before, but I just looove it. It’s knit in fingering-weight yarn, has relatively fitted sleeves and a swingy hem even though it’s knit straight up without any waist shaping!

Finally, the Camden Hills Poncho by Elizabeth Smith. This garment that skirts the line between sweater and poncho is everywhere these days! I knit another called the Mei Pullover as a shop sample. It’s wide enough for the dropped shoulders to go halfway down the upper arm, and you can throw it on over whatever. Ultimate cozy, modern styling. Also: this pattern is an homage to our neighboring town of Camden!

Written by Lauren Chesis

Lauren Chesis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *