Fix This Outfit: Skinny Jeans, Cardigans and Tiny Ankle Boots




This outfit has all of the markings of a decent, everyday outfit:  skinny jeans, ankle boots, graphic tee, and a cardi.  But something is…off.  The proportions aren’t quite right, and if my hips were any wider I’d end up in that big-hips-tiny-feet situation and really:  no one wants that.

So let’s fix it.

What I Don’t Like

1.  The cardigan hits at the widest part of my hips.

Shorter cardigans are hard to pull off in general (they really have to hit in exactly the right spot), and this case, your eye is drawn down to the widest part of my hips.  Not the most flattering option.

2. The cardigan is vaguely matronly through the bust.

The high neckline of crewneck tee + the high neckline of the cardi can easily become matronly.  The graphic tee helps keep it edgy….but it’s teetering….

3. Proportions Are Off

The really short boots + the short cardi….it’s not balanced.  In general, I find that a short-short proportion is often hard to pull off.  Long-short typically looks more balanced.


The Fix

Step 1 – Get a Longer Cardigan



Much better!  The long, lean lines of the cardigan allow your eye to travel up and down the body, and the cardigan cuts inches off of each hip.  And since long-short proportions are usually more flattering….I’m actually OK with the little ankle boots.  You *could* stop here.


Step 2 – Swap Out The Ankle Boots

Or…swap out the super short ankle booties for something more flattering and fresh:



I seriously cannot overstate the versatility of flat, over-the-knee boots.  It’s tricky to find a flat shoe that is also flattering (I mean c’mon…heels are popular because they make us look so good…), but flat, over-the-knee boots nail it.  They are, actually, really, sincerely, flattering (and I personally like the flat version better than the heeled version).  I’ve been saving links to my current favorites into The Mom Edit’s Footwear Shop.


Step 3 – Slim Through The Middle With a Long Necklace (or Neckline)

One final touch to finish this outfit is a long pendant necklace.  My hands-down favorite is Stella & Dot’s rebel pendent because it’s the perfect length and shape for long, lean lines.

This trick creates the illusion of a waist (and works shockingly well even post-partum).



The one caveat I’d make is if you are busty….skip the necklace.  Instead, swap out the crew neck tee for one with a lower neckline.  V-Necks are your best bet.









tee:  Foster LA Mother of Dragons Tee (to benefit foster kids – I’m wearing a women’s size M for reference)

cardi: old Banana Republic…but this Tinley Road Cardi looks very similar, is marked down to $36, plus an additional 60% off that.  Like seriously OMG.

jacket: Mike’s K-Way windbreaker (I’m wearing his M)

jeans:  Was wearing Levi 535s (indigo sky wash) in the studio shots, Rag and Bone skinny jeans otherwise (my current favs are these slashed knee Rag and Bones or these majorly high-waisted ones).

boots: old Nine West…but really want to upgrade to the Weitzman 50/50 boots.  Otherwise, these Eden OTK boots are also waterproof, or these gorgeous taupe OTK boots by DV are 60% the already reduced price (final sale)

hat: Sole Society c/o

bag: Kate Spade Henry duffle




Thoughts?  Comments?  Anything else you’d like to see me mess around with?



ps. Piperlime is having a pretty epic sale:  60% off already reduced items with code BESTSALE. (Ends 1/14.)




  1. So, what would you do if you wanted to keep the first cardigan? Is there a fix for an awkward-length cardi? (Love these fix-it posts, btw!)

    • Love these posts. Just want to second the request to show how to fix it with the shorter cardigan. I have quite a few! I find it difficult to pair the right shirt with a crewneck cardi. I usually button a few buttons below the bust to give me a waist and the illusion of a v neck.

    • I 3rd the request for a jeans outfit using the original cardi! I usually add a scarf, and someone suggested trying a longer top, but I’d love additional fixes. I LOVE your “fixes and explanations” posts–please please do more! And if you have a curvy friend that might feel like showing how your fixes work on her, all of us curvy girls would love it.

  2. OMG I LOVE this outfit! You nailed it! I’m tall, small chested, slight pooch and have wider hips. Short cardigans, short/boxy sweaters, short tees, tees that are longer on the sides are the death of me! Add to it ankle boots and it is so NOT happening. This is a look I can easily replicate. LOVE it!

    More like this! I’d love to see your take on a short blazer. I have the Helmut Lang Smoking Tux blazer from Shopbop and wear it all the time for work- but with the same thing. A rounded high/low silk tank, Rag and Bone skinny pants, and ankle boots. It’s my work staple. I realize that may be a *tad* more specific than you are requesting 😉

    I do need you to pull the trigger on the Weitzman 50/50. There’s no way I can justify it if my fashion idol hasn’t yet bought them herself 😉 You rock!!!

    • Ditto! i’m with Beth…same body shape, tall, small bust, wider hips, small pooch. yesterday i put on an animal print fitted wrap dress and a black cardigan. it looked so very wrong. i remembered this post and changed to a black waterfall cardi black tights and tall boots – voila! thanks for all your great ideas.

  3. This is cute and your fixes definitely improve it. I think what was bugging me most about the t-shirt/cardi combo was the necklines didn’t work together. The way the t-shirt was poking out above the collar of the cardigan didn’t look right to me.

    I know you wear regular t-shirts a lot but I think they’re kind of hard to pull off if your middle is thicker, as mine is since I’m still losing baby weight from #4. I don’t know, maybe it’s me. Especially because I’m not busty so there is still more bulk in my middle than in my chest region. They look super cute on you though. 🙂

    That is a cute S&D necklace, I need a long pendant style necklace…

  4. Great post. I don’t think the knee high boots will work for someone with curvy hips (sadly, my thighs are not long & lean–they have curves at the top. Ugh.) is there any hope, any way to achieve an outfit with tee, cardi, jeans, and boots without looking totally matronly (given wide hips)? I have a small waist, which helps balance things, but would love styling tips for outfits with edge for women with hips. Please help!

  5. Thanks Shana. I love you. I was wearing the “better version” of this outfit post today. Ha! Good to know we can always improve. Your blog is my favorite fashion blog!

  6. I have a straight figure but it’s a chunkier rectangle than yours–narrow hips and large thighs/rear with normal-width but athletic calves. I’m not convinced that an OTK boot is flattering for those of us with curvy legs, especially petites. I do wear my knee-high flat riding boots to death though, since a well-fitted tall boot won’t gap at the calf while showing where the knee curves in and not drawing the eye immediately to my ice-cream-cone-shaped thighs.

  7. Lol totall going home to ‘fix’ my outfit… Am wearing exactly that: short cardi and ankle boots! Wow did I get it wrong today.. I had a feeling something was off! Now I know better 🙂

  8. I loved the outfit before the over-the-knee boots. To me, anyway, they threw the proportions off again. I’m busty, and agree that long necklaces can be unflattering, but more the round ones. I find that a long necklace with a heavy pendant does enough of a v-shape that it’s still slimming. I love the cardigan!

  9. LOVE these posts. I quickly went to order the tee — being a mother of boys and soon to start fostering, but then I realized I was missing the Game of Thrones reference. Can I still wear the tee if I have no idea about GOT or is that silly/will I anger fans?

    And secondly, debating whether to size up (L), or go with the Men’s Small — I am your size, but 5’10” so I tend to go up a size for the shoulders to fit. Think the men’s will be frumpy, or end up looking like the Sincerely Jules Tees I loved this summer?

  10. I love this fix it post! It’s so helpful. One question? Is there a way to fix the outfit and still stick with the short cardigan? Maybe a longer shirt under?

  11. Hi Shana, I commented last night and now I don’t see it. Yikes. :/ Did it get deleted somehow? I promise I’m not a spammer. Anyway, great post and I’ve been thinking of getting a long cardigan so maybe this will push me over the edge to go find one! 🙂

  12. I know it’s cliche but I’d love to see some styling tips for ubiquitous black yoga pants! Try as I might, I can’t quit them.
    I love this post, very fashion-engineer. 🙂

  13. You are convincing me NOT to return my 50/50 knock offs! Still not sure I should be wearing them at 45, but I bit the bullet and wore them to work today with a skirt and waterfall cardi. You are my inspiration for fashion fun 🙂 thank you!

    • Kristen, I am 43 and I am contemplating purchasing a pair of 50/50 knock offs. So I say rock the ones you have! I don’t think age has anything to do with it- it’s what you feel comfortable wearing. And, I’d love to know what knock offs you purchased. I am thinking of the ones Shana linked to above from Nordstrom as they are waterproof…

      • I bought ones from a nordstrom sale; Louise et Cie. They are fairly comfy and super cute.. I was just dabbling in the idea so didn’t want to spend a lot. I got many compliments tho and didn’t feel too ridiculous!
        I am sure my black short skirt/long sweater/tall boots may not have been the best styling proportions but I gave it a whirl 🙂

  14. I LOVE these kinds of posts! SO interesting to see the process.
    Would love to see your take on styling a knee length pencil skirt. Always hard for me to get the proportions right on top.

  15. Love this post and the ‘fix it’ idea in general! After about half an hour trying to work my tired old nursing mum clothes into an outfit for tomorrow I had come up with something along the lines of the ‘before’ picture…. So glad I read this, have fixed it into something much less mumsy in 5 mins!! Thanks!!! X

  16. I love these posts Shana! Keep ’em up!! In fact, I recently just bought a little mini gold sequin skirt similar to your first fix it up post from around Christmas time. I plan to wear it soon–even though the holidays are over. Who cares!? I just have to figure out how to make it work appropriate for the high school library I work in….

    Back to this outfit! My Monday post was about graphic tees, and now I think I must have this one. It’s so cool AND for such a great cause. You always keep introducing so many great things to me. Thanks Shana. I love The Mom Edit!


    Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

  17. I love these posts! They are some of my favorite! I would love to see more with how to make the short boots a best. I live in south Texas where winter is short and wouldn’t get enough wear out of over the knee boots.

  18. Love these outfit fix posts. So helpful! I really like the booties that got replaced, but couldn’t find if you mentioned the brand anywhere.

  19. Thank you for this! I need to see a couple dozen more of these posts! I am still negotiating the skinny jean + short boot combo. I really hesitated with this combo because I’m short and I felt like short boots made my legs look stubby. But I purchased the Dolce Vita Ferrin boot in black (featured this fall in one of your Nordstrom dressing room posts) and have been wearing them all year over various skinnies. I find these boots super versatile and comfortable — I walk a lot — but who knows? Maybe the look is off or maybe I’m not wearing them correctly. For me a standard tall boot feels much safer, easier and more flattering.

    One question: I am curious how you would wear an ankle boot with a higher, narrower shaft than the one in the first picture (an example would be the Madewell Ames boot). I’ve considered purchasing boots like these but am just not sure how to wear them with skinny jeans. With the jeans rolled, tucked in or rumpled? Or are they best paired with something like a straight leg or a flare?

  20. I LOVE the “better” version with the long cardigan and the short boots. It’s my fave. This post is super awesome and I echo all the requests for lots more of these.

  21. Great post! Love the fixes and the “why” of the fixes. Sometimes it is hard to figure out how to fix things on yourself, but when you see it in pictures with descriptions it makes sense!

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