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.
Cardigans can definitely look incredible. Celebrities such as Amal Clooney and Anna Wintour look very chic when they wear them.
5 reasons to wear cardigan outfits
1. You can create long, flattering lines
2. You can extend your warm weather outfits
If you want to continue to wear your summer dresses, you can team them with a cardigan and booties to make sure you’re warm enough in the cooler months.
Kimba @kimbalikes above shows how you can choose a matching sweater and cardigan set to look chic.
3. You can wear for day or evening
You can wear your cardigan with your jeans, or as a cover-up for your evening dress.
4. cardigan outfits are cozy
Wearing a cardigan can be like giving yourself a hug on cool winter and fall days.
5. They’re on trend
As it happens, cardigans are very much on trend right now. There were lots of cardigans on the catwalks this Fall, whether you like a preppy, slouchy, or very streamlined style.
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 on the catwalks
Below, you can see how designers chose to style cardigans on the catwalks this season.
Best cardigans to choose for your cardigan outfits
Now, let’s look at some cardigans you could choose that are in stores now.
COS’ merino wool cardigan (below) is a shorter style that would look good worn with high-waisted wide-leg pants, or worn over a dress to keep you warm.
Or, you could opt for a more oversized look. If you want to go for the chunky cardigan style (below), then keep the rest of your look slim and streamlined. Or, of course, you could wear with your loungewear to stay cozy at home.
Barefoot Dreams is the perfect go-to for cozy, winter and fall knitwear. Wear over your jeans for casual days, or to stay warm for days at home. It’s also a great style to take with you for plane journeys.
You don’t have to wear a coat when the weather cools down, unless it’s raining of course! Instead, you could just a hybrid coatigan style, like the option from J.Crew (below), which comes in a choice of four colors.
Best known for winter boots, Ugg has been branching out into clothing recently. The draped style of the UGG cardigan (below) is a flattering choice for everyday.
You could also choose a bright or printed cardigan to brighten up your cold weather outfits. The print cardigan below would be good worn with a simply outfit of jeans and a white shirt.
Of course, your cardigan doesn’t have to look casual. You can choose a smart style instead of a blazer, and wear for work, or to smarten up your jeans.
Depending on your bodyshape, a cardigan can make you look larger than you are. If you’re an hourglass, then making sure you highlight your waist can be super flattering. Choose a style with a belt, or wear a belt over your existing cardigans.
ted baker london
Or, for a glamorous take on the cardigan trend, you could choose one with sequins like the style below. This would look good worn as a cover-up for your evening dress, or to give a pair of wide-leg pants or jeans an evening look.
Another coat style for you now, the AllSaints cardigan (below) could look good worn over a simple white t-shirt or shirt, jeans and booties.
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A wrap style cardigan is a great way to add a point of difference to your cardigan. It creates a flattering v-neckline and emphasizes your waist.
We’re a big fan of PAIGE jeans, and we love the cardigan below too. The cashmere and puffed sleeves of the cardigan (below) give it an elevated feel. This is a great one if you have narrow shoulders, or if you are pear-shaped and want to balance out wider hips.
The embroidery on the Boden cardigan (below) gives it a luxurious feel. You could wear over your evening dresses, for work, or to dress up a favorite pair of jeans.
If you don’t tend to consider Amazon when it comes to your fashion choices, the draped cardigan (below) may tempt you. It comes in a huge choice of colors, and has more than 28,000 largely positive reviews, from wearers who describe it as a great buy. One woman said she had bought 11 of the same style in different colors.
Lock and Love
Another draped style is the Lock and Love cardigan (below). There are a big choice of shades so you should find your favorite. Reviewers say these cardigans are super comfortable, soft and breathable.
For a long cardigan to create long, sleek lines, you could try the JJ Perfection cardigan (below). Reviewers say it falls beautifully, and the material is great quality.
Another well-reviewed choice is the LALABEE cardigan (below), which wearers say always garners compliments when they wear it.
Cardigan outfits to try
Now that you have chosen your favorite cardigan, below are 12 ways to wear a cardigan which will definitely make sure you look funky rather than frumpy.
1. Create long lines with your cardigan outfits
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.
JJ Perfection Open Front Long Cardigan – COS Boat Neck Tank Top – COS Zip-UP Leather Midi Skirt – Blondo Dakota Waterproof Boot – BOSTANTEN Leather Shoulder Bucket Bag – Bocar Seed Beads Collar Necklace
Tanasha @letsrecreatethelook above chooses an oversized cardigan and keeps her skirt slimline.
2. Draped to hide a belly
If you prefer to cover up a belly, then a draped cardigan is an ideal choice. The drapes will hide imperfections and give you a more streamlined look.
2. 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 2023.
Karen Millen Viscose Blend Belted Utility Chambray Rib Knit Cardigan – Mango Skinny Cropped Jeans – Blondo Dakota Waterproof Boot – COACH Color-Block Leather Willow Tote – KELMALL Geometric Hoops Earrings
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. Wear a camisole under your wrap cardigan.
5. With bootcut or flare jeans
A shorter cardigan looks great when worn with bootcuts, flares, or wider pants. Choose a high waisted style of bottoms to make your legs look longer.
6. Cardigan styles: Choose texture
For an on-trend look, choose a shorter cardigan with a fuzzy texture. You can dress it up, as shown below, or wear to liven up your jeans.
Mango Textured Button Cardigan – Wantschun Lace Satin Silk Camisole – COS Zip-Up Leather Midi Skirt – Franco Sarto Frankie Pump – Ted Baker London Reptcon Croc Detail Small Icon – Aaniya Boutique Starlet Necklace
7. Instead of a blazer for work
Cardigans often have casual connotations, but can also look very smart, depending on the style you choose, which means you can definitely wear a cardigan for work or smarter occasions.
Fonda @savvysouthernchic above chooses a smart blue outfit that you could easily wear for work.
8. cardigan outfits to Wear instead of your coat
A cardigan can be a softer, fresher way to add some outerwear without wearing a coat. Choose a thicker style to make sure you are warm enough.
9. cardigan outfits: 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.
10. Wear With Your Evening Dress
A cardigan makes the ideal cover-up for your evening dress, if you want to add warmth, and prefer to cover your arms.
Wendy@fashionoverfifty.wendy above wears her gold cardigan with her black dress.
11. cardigan outfits: Wear with your loungewear
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.
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. You can wear any of the cardigans with any of the bottoms.
shop cardigan outfits here:
Previous cardigan outfit inspiration
Below, you can see a previous cardigan capsule. While the items (below) are past season, they should still provide you with inspiration.
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.
- 9 Totally Timeless Fall Outfits That Will Make You Glad Summer Is Over
- The Best Winter Coats For Women This Season And How To Choose A Coat
- How To Fit A Blazer – A Comprehensive Guide On How To Select The Right Blazer
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Feature image by Dawn Lucy @fashionshouldbefun
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