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, 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, bring you bang up-to-date. Here is how to wear a cardigan in 8 ways which are fabulous rather than frumpy.

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

how to wear cardigans | 40plusstyle.com

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

Here are 8 ways to wear a cardigan which will definitely make sure you look funky rather than frumpy.

1. Wear a belt over your cardigan

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 2018.cardigan with belt outfit idea | 40plusstyle.com

Splendid long cardigan – Boss pleat top – Kate Spade suede beltFrye pointy toe bootieJag jeansHalogen hoop earrings

2. Wear a longline cardigan to create sleek lines

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.

This nude cardigan (below) from Topshop, for example, is very on-trend. However, with the chunky buttons, pockets and length which sits on your waist, you could end up making yourself look bigger than you are, and drawing attention to your tummy.

knit crop cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

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.long cardigan outfit idea | 40plusstyle.com

Halogen long cardiganVince Camuto navy blouseGood American high waist skinny jeansRebecca Minkoff crossbody bagVince Camuto cage booties

3. Pop your cardigan over your shoulders

Have you noticed how former Vogue editor Anna Wintour simply slings a colored cardigan over her shoulders? She usually wears a shorter 1950s style cardigan, but throwing it over her shoulders as a shrug makes it look more modern. The queen of fashion certainly provides plenty of inspiration when looking at how to wear a cardigan.

crop cardigan outfit idea | 40plusstyle.comHalogen ribbed dressAnne Klein crop cardiganSam Edelman pumpsLike Dreams box clutchAlexis Bittar hoop earrings

4. Layer your cardigan

Of course, a cardigan is a layer in itself. But, you can create even more visual interest by using it in a layered look for fall. These kind of cardigan outfits are perfect for transitional dressing.

layer with cardigan outfit idea | 40plusstyle.com

Ming Wang sweater dressBarefoot cardiganSpanx black leggingsRachel Parcell suede beltBlondo bootie Malibu Skye tote

You could wear a dress over a pair of leggings or skinny jeans, then layer over your cardigan, and pop a belt over that. It’s a great way to get more wear out of your summer dresses.

5. 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.wrap cardigan outfit idea | 40plusstyle.com

Spanx faux leather pencil skirtFree People tie waist cardiganRebecca Minkoff envelope clutch – Vince Camuto slingback pumps

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

6. Go for a bold color

Bold cardigan colors - stylish cardigan outfits for women | 40plusstyle.com

1901 leopard print shirtHalogen cardiganWit and Wisdom bootcut jeansVagabond pumpsUrban Originals tote

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.

7. Wear instead of your coat

A cardigan can be a sofer, fresher way to add some outerwear without wearing a coat. This fringed cardigan looks very Chanel, without the Chanel price tag.

Business casual - stylish cardigan outfits for women | 40plusstyle.com

Nic+Zoe tweed cardiganEliza J wide leg pants – Eileen Fisher silk topLouise Et Cie pumps – Olivia Burton watchThacker ring handle bagArgentino Vivo earrings

8. Wear with your pajamas!

Okay, I know this isn’t exactly one of my 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.

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

Papinelle silk pajamasBarefoot Dreams cardiganPatricia Green embroidered slippersGio Graphy fashion book

Opt for some silk or satin pajamas 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!

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

How do you wear your cardigan? 

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How to wear a cardigan without looking frumpy: 8 cardigan outfits to try | 40plusstyle.com

Feature image by @mcompanystyle