In the fall, all I ever seem to want to wear are leggings and large sweaters. But at least I'm not wearing North Face jackets, right, RIGHT? Either way, when it's 8 am and 30 degrees outside (like today, eek), I just can't be bothered to get dressed in something that is not cozy and warm. So I have started a fabulous sweater collection. Most of mine are from thrift shops (sequined 80's sweaters are the best), but I also like to have a couple ones in basic colours that are very good quality and warm.
In my opinion, thrift stores are THE BEST places to get sweaters. People donate a lot of them, so if you go in the colder seasons, when they are all out on the floor, there is a huge variety. Sweaters cost a lot new, and at thrift stores they are usually between $5-10 before any special discounts. You can also find wool, cashmere, and everything in between.
Of course, as with all clothes, you can sometimes get very lucky and find super nice designer sweaters. I recently found an Armani Exchange cashmere hoodie for $6 and it feels like wrapping myself in a pillow.
The best materials to look for are cashmere and wool. Those are the nicest quality. But there's nothing wrong with having some acrylic sweaters with fun prints. I personally like to check the fun sweaters more thoroughly, and quickly run my hand over all of the black/grey sweaters and check any that feel super nice and soft.
Some sweaters have shoulder pads, but you can usually easily cut those out at home.
And longer sweaters can make great sweater dresses.