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

If you want to hide a belly or look taller and slimmer, then a cardigan can give you the perfect way to achieve that. Choose a long cardigan and wear a column of color underneath.

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 fall outfit | 40plusstyle.com

Kimba @kimbalikes above shows how you can choose a matching sweater and cardigan set to look chic.

Check out this similar sweater, cardigan (another option here), jeans, boots, belt, necklace and sunglasses.

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.

How to wear a cardigan without looking frumpy: 11 cardigan outfits for you to try | 40plusstyle.com

Dawn Lucy @fashionshouldbefun above (read her style interview here) matches her cardigan to the print on her shirt.

Steal her look with this similar shirt, cardigan, wide jeans, booties and handbag.

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.

Runway cardigan looks | 40plusstyle.com

Miu MiuChristian DiorLuisa Spagnoli

Best cardigans to choose for your cardigan outfits

Now, let’s look at some cardigans you could choose that are in stores now.

COS

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.

COS Ribbed Knit Merino Wool Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

COS Ribbed Knit Merino Wool Cardigan

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.

COS Oversized Wool V-Neck Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

COS Oversized Wool V-Neck Cardigan

Barefoot Dreams

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.

Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardigan

j.crew

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.

J.Crew Juliette Collarless Sweater Blazer | 40plusstyle.com

J.Crew Juliette Collarless Sweater Blazer

Eileen Fisher

Choose luxurious materials for your cardigan like the cashmere silk from Eileen Fisher (below), which would look lovely worn over jeans or leggings and a t-shirt.

Eileen Fisher Cashmere Silk Bliss Shawl Collar Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Eileen Fisher Cashmere Silk Bliss Shawl Collar Cardigan

UGG

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.

UGG Phoebe Wrap Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

UGG Phoebe Wrap Cardigan

FARM RIO

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.

FARM RIO Ainika Sparkle Maxi Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

FARM RIO Ainika Sparkle Maxi Cardigan

massimo dutti

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.

Massimo Dutti Striped Knit Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Massimo Dutti Striped Knit Cardigan

karen millen

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.

Karen Millen Viscose Blend Belted Utility Chambray Rib Knit Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Karen Millen Viscose Blend Belted Utility Chambray Rib Knit Cardigan

ted baker london

Ted Baker London is a great place to look if you want to elevate your cardigan style. For a romantic look, you could try the floral style (below).

Ted Baker London Irreen Woven Front Printed Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Ted Baker London Irreen Woven Front Printed Cardigan

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.

Ted Baker London Vivione Sequin Front Embellished Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Ted Baker London Vivione Sequin Front Embellished Cardigan

allsaints

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.

AllSaints Tessa Tiger Stripe Heavyweight Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

AllSaints Tessa Tiger Stripe Heavyweight Cardigan

& Other Stories

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.

& Other Stories Wrap Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

& Other Stories Wrap Cardigan

PAIGE

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.

PAIGE Chantilly Sweater | 40plusstyle.com

PAIGE Chantilly Sweater

Boden

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.

Boden Embroidered Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Boden Embroidered Cardigan

Urban CoCo

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.

Urban CoCo Drape Front Open Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Urban CoCo Drape Front Open Cardigan

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.

Lock and Love Draped Front Open Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Lock and Love Draped Front Open Cardigan

JJ Perfection

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.

JJ Perfection Open Front Long Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

JJ Perfection Open Front Long Cardigan

LALABEE

Another well-reviewed choice is the LALABEE cardigan (below), which wearers say always garners compliments when they wear it.

LALABEE Draped Open Front Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

LALABEE Draped Open Front Cardigan

URRU

If you want the flattering layered look without adding too much warmth, you could try a sleeveless cardigan, like the open-front choice (below). Reviewers say it looks hip and sophisticated.

URRU Sleeveless Open Front Cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

URRU Sleeveless Open Front Cardigan

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.

Cardigan outfits - Create a long line with a cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

JJ Perfection Open Front Long CardiganCOS Boat Neck Tank TopCOS Zip-UP Leather Midi SkirtBlondo Dakota Waterproof BootBOSTANTEN Leather Shoulder Bucket BagBocar Seed Beads Collar Necklace

Tanasha in an all black casual outfit | 40plusstyle.com

Tanasha @letsrecreatethelook above chooses an oversized cardigan and keeps her skirt slimline.

Recreate her outfit with this similar cardigan (another option here), skirt, sandals, tote and cap.

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.

Cardigan outfits - Draped cardigan to hide a belly | 40plusstyle.com

UGG Phoebe Wrap CardiganDOUBLJU Surplice Wrap TopMango Skinny Cropped Jeans Tory Burch Eleanor Ballet FlatsCOACH Color-Block Leather Willow ToteAaniya Boutique Starlet Necklace

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.

Wear a belt over your knitwear | 40plusstyle.com

Karen Millen Viscose Blend Belted Utility Chambray Rib Knit CardiganMango Skinny Cropped JeansBlondo Dakota Waterproof BootCOACH Color-Block Leather Willow ToteKELMALL 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.

Wrap sweater outfit | 40plusstyle.com

& Other Stories Wrap CardiganCOS Flared Knit Wool PantsNaturalizer Vera SandalTed Baker London Reptcon Croc Detail Small IconAdina Eden Solid Chunky Drop Stud Earrings

Nancy in wrap cardigan, combat pants and booties | 40plusstyle.com

Nancy @nancysstyle above (read her style interview here) adds color to her neutral outfit with a purple cardigan.

Check out this similar top, wrap cardigan (another option here), pants, booties, necklace and earrings.

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.

Cardigan outfits: cropped knitwear with bootcut or flare jeans | 40plusstyle.com

Ted Baker London Irreen Woven Front Printed CardiganCOS Spired Bootcut JeansNaturalizer Vera SandalCOS Leather Crescent BagAaniya Boutique Ava Hoop Earrings

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.

Choose textured cardigan | 40plusstyle.com

Mango Textured Button CardiganWantschun Lace Satin Silk Camisole – COS Zip-Up Leather Midi SkirtFranco Sarto Frankie PumpTed Baker London Reptcon Croc Detail Small IconAaniya 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.

Wearing a cardigan as a blazer for work | 40plusstyle.com

Massimo Dutti Striped Knit CardiganCOS Flared Knit Wool PantsBOSTANTEN Leather Shoulder Bucket BagMICHAEL Michael Kors Alina Flex PumpsAaniya Boutique Ava Hoop Earrings

Work outfit idea | 40plusstyle.com

Fonda @savvysouthernchic above chooses a smart blue outfit that you could easily wear for work.

Get her look with this similar blouse, cardigan, pants, pumps, belt, earrings and necklace.

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.

Wearing a cardigan as a coat | 40plusstyle.com

J.Crew Juliette Collarless Sweater BlazerM.M.LaFleur Emmy TopCOS Spired Bootcut JeansFranco Sarto Frankie PumpCOS Leather Crescent BagBocar Seed Beads Collar Necklace

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.

Midaxi cardi and boots | 40plusstyle.com

Karen Millen Viscose Blend Knit Stripe Midaxi CardiganBlondo Dakota Waterproof BootCOACH Color-Block Leather Willow ToteKELMALL Geometric Hoops Earrings

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

Knitwear worn with an evening dress | 40plusstyle.com

Ted Baker London Vivione Sequin Front Embellished CardiganCOS Cotton-Jersey Maxi DressNaturalizer Vera SandalBoutique De FGG Crystal Evening BagMESOVOR Crystal Drop Earrings

Wendy in gold and black formal outfit | 40plusstyle.com

Wendy@fashionoverfifty.wendy above wears her gold cardigan with her black dress.

Steal her look with this similar cardigandresstightsbootiesclutchnecklaceearrings and sunglasses.

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.

Loungewear for women | 40plusstyle.com

COS Oversized Wool V-Neck CardiganFaleave Knit 2 Piece Sweater SetDearfoams Fireside Sydney Shearling Fur 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. You can wear any of the cardigans with any of the bottoms.

Cardigan capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

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.

Cardigan capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com
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. 9 Totally Timeless Fall Outfits That Will Make You Glad Summer Is Over
  2. The Best Winter Coats For Women This Season And How To Choose A Coat
  3. How To Fit A Blazer – A Comprehensive Guide On How To Select The Right Blazer

Like this article on cardigan outfits? Save it on Pinterest!

How to wear a cardigan without looking frumpy: 11 cardigan outfits for you to try | 40plusstyle.com

Feature image by Dawn Lucy @fashionshouldbefun

Sylvia

Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. She is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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