The cardigan is often used as shorthand for looking frumpy. Sandy in Grease wore a cardigan before she changed into leather pants to win over Danny, while the twinset is used to show that Bree in Desperate Housewives is uptight. But cardigan outfits can actually be very on-trend.

The humble cardigan doesn’t have to be old-fashioned. It can also be one of the most stylish, hardworking items in your closet. Not only can it keep you cozy in cooler weather, but it can also make you look taller and slimmer and bring you bang up-to-date.

Below you will find how to wear a cardigan in 11 ways which are fabulous rather than frumpy.

Knitwear outfits worn by Amal Clooney and Anna Wintour | 40plusstyle.com

Cardigans can definitely look incredible. Celebrities such as Amal Clooney and Anna Wintour look very chic when they wear them.

How to wear a cardigan

The key is to get the balance right. While oversized cardigans are a key trend at the moment, opting for huge, slightly-rounded shapes can make you look larger than you are.

At the other end of the spectrum, form-fitting twinsets can look frumpy in certain outfits. However, this 1950s feel can also look stylish depending on the rest of your look.

Cardigan outfits to try

Below are 12 ways to wear a cardigan which will definitely make sure you look funky rather than frumpy.

1. Wear a belt over your cardigan

Nancy wears a belt over her knitwear | 40plusstyle.com

If you’re worried about a cardigan looking shapeless, then adding a belt can be a stylish way to update your cardigan outfits. Plus, belts with everything were a key accessories trend for fall 2020.

Nancy (above) matches her red belt to her booties.

Check out this similar cardigan, dress, booties, belt and tights.

Wear a belt over your cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

VERO MODA long open cardiganReformation t-shirt dress Hobo leather crossbody bagOTBT open toe bootieAkola pearl hoop earringsTory Burch reversible leather belt

2. Cardigan styles: Choose a waterfall style

One of the most flattering cardigan styles to choose is the waterfall cardigan. If you want to hide a belly, a draped cardigan can be a good option.

Waterfall knitwear | 40plusstyle.com

Bobeau drape front cardiganRails mix media blouseTopshop high waist jeansFranco Sarto bootieFRAME mini toteKendra Scott tassel necklace

3. How to wear a long cardigan to create sleek lines

How to wear a cardigan without looking frumpy: 12 cardigan outfits for you to try | 40plusstyle.com

Depending on your body shape, you may well be able to get away with wearing any style of cardigan you want. But, if you are looking at how to wear a cardigan in ways to look taller, and slimmer, or to hide a belly, you will want to think about the shape of your cardigan.

Wide, oversized cardigans are very on-trend right now, but you could end up making yourself look bigger than you are, and drawing attention to your tummy.

Instead, you could think about making a cardigan work for you by wearing a longline knit. This gives an optical illusion of making you look slimmer, as you create a long column with the clothing you are wearing under the cardigan.

Mo (above) creates beautiful long lines with her blue cardigan.

Get her look with this similar cardigan, tee, jeans, flats, clutch, hoop earrings and sunglasses.

Long cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Halogen open front cardiganRails snakeskin topLyssé high waist denim leggingsFranco Sarto bootieTed Baker London leather crossbody bagKendra Scott tassel necklace

4. Opt for a wrap style

A wrap style is flattering for many types of figures. If you have an hourglass shape, a belt will draw attention to your waist, for example, while if are a rectangle, you can create the illusion of a waist with your belt.

Wrap cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

VERO MODA wrap cardiganBLANKNYC bootcut jeansNaturalizer pumpsSole Society faux leather clutchAkola pearl hoop earrings

5. Pay attention to trends

On-trend cardigans | 40plusstyle.com

I’d never tell you to slavishly follow fashion and only wear what is on-trend. However by keeping abreast of the latest trends, you can choose what suits you and add modernity to your outfits. At the moment, cropped styles and twinsets are having a style moment.

Elena (above) opts for a cropped style which draws attention to her slim waistline.

Recreate her outfit with this similar crop cardigan, chambray shirt, pants and boots.

Twin set cardigan outfit | 40plusstyle.com

Boden crop cardiganBoden knitted tank topNordstrom wide leg sweater pantsara pumpFrye leather satchelArgento Vivo linear drop earrings

6. Mix prim with not-so-proper

Often the best outfits have a bit of yin and yang. So, you might mix the formal and the informal, or designer and high street.

A great way to style a prim ladylike cardigan is to wear it with pieces which have a little sex appeal.

Cardigan worn with leather pants | 40plusstyle.com

Tory Burch colorblock wool cardiganCURRENT AIR cowl neck camisoleRonny Kobo faux leather crop pantsCalvin Klein bootieTed Baker London leather crossbody bagBaubleBar hoop earrings

7. Best cardigans: Go for a bold color

Cardigan outfits - Fonda wears a green cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Cardigans often have negative connotations because they are seen as a dull and boring option. So rather than opting for a neutral such as beige, you could go for a bold, primary color.

Fonda (above) chooses green and pairs her cardigan with over-the-knee boots.

Check out this similar cardigan, shirt, jeans, knee high boots, clutch and belt.

Bold cardigan colors | 40plusstyle.com

Tory Burch cardigan (available also in Nordstrom) – Vince stripe sweaterSPANX high rise flare pantsFranco Sarto bootieTory Burch leather toteGas Bijoux hoop earrings

8. Wear instead of your coat

A cardigan can be a softer, fresher way to add some outerwear without wearing a coat. This draped cardigan (below) has fabulous floral detailing on the back.

Wearing a cardigan as a coat | 40plusstyle.com

Ted Baker London sweaterGood Luck Gem printed teeBLANKNYC bootcut jeansFranco Sarto bootieMadewell crossbody bagAkola drop earrings

9. Outfits with cardigans: Choose a striking pattern

Jenny wearing leopard print knitwear | 40plusstyle.com

While many cardigans come in block colors, you could also opt for a striking pattern and keep the rest of your outfit relatively simple.

Jenny (above) wears her cardigan with jeans and sneakers.

Recreate her outfit with this similar cardigan, jeans and sneakers.

Outfits with cardigans: Choose a striking pattern | 40plusstyle.com

Baum and Pferdgarten stripe cardiganJEN7 by 7 For All Mankind skinny jeansLucky Brand flatTory Burch leather crossbody walletAkola drop earrings

10. Wear as a dress

If you love to wear dresses at other times of the year, you don’t have to stop wearing them just because the temperature dips. A cardigan dress could be the perfect answer.

You could wear yours buttoned as a dress or unbutton it and wear as a long outer layer.

Cardigan worn as a dress | 40plusstyle.com

ALLSAINTS leather biker jacketL’AGENCE stripe sweater dressCharles by Charles David bootieRebecca Minkoff crossbody bagArgento Vivo earrings

11. Best women’s cardigans: Wear with your pajamas

Okay, I know this isn’t always one of the most stylish options. But, nothing beats the feeling on a cold evening of popping on some pajamas and a cozy cardigan, then sitting in front of the fire with a good book and a nice glass of wine.

Opt for some silk or satin pajamas or a printed pair and you still won’t look frumpy even at your most relaxed. You just have to hope you don’t have to answer the doorbell!

Sleep wear - stylish cardigan outfits for women | 40plusstyle.com

Barefoot Dreams cardiganHoneydew Intimates pajamasUGG slipper

For more inspiration, check out our list of best loungewear pieces in stores now.

How to style cardigans: Your cardigan outfits together in one capsule

You can see below just how versatile the humble cardigan can be. You could easily wear a different cardigan outfit every day during the winter season.

The outfits below can be switched around to create many different looks. For example, the polka dot twinset would look good with the leather pants. The striped cardigan dress would go well over the dress while the wrap cardigan would do well with any of the pants.

Cardigan capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

I hope this have given you some new ideas on how to wear a cardigan!

How do you wear your cardigan? I’d love to hear about your favorite cardigan outfits.

Continue reading:

  1. The Best Winter Coats For Women This Season And How To Choose A Coat
  2. All The Winter Essentials You Need In Your Closet This Year
  3. The Best Loungewear That Makes You Feel Comfortable AND Stylish

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How to wear a cardigan without looking frumpy: 12 cardigan outfits for you to try | 40plusstyle.com

Feature image by Mo

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