Cardigans are one of the most worn pieces of garment for women and since last year we are seeing so many different styles of them that its really hard to resist them. And you shouldn’t! But, because of their shape and style, they can be tricky to style. And you might be wasting hours of time to figure out the best outfit combination with them.
In this post, I want to share an easy style guide for each of those styles that will help you look chic with cardigans. Take this style guide as a reference, you can bookmark this page to come back to or you can pin the images in your Pinterest account. I also have other posts about cardigans which I am linking in this post, so don’t forget to check them for more outfit inspiration.
So, let’s get started.
I have divided this post into first cardigan styling and common questions that people ask about them to help you get answers quickly.
Types Of Cardigans
I thought it would be a good way to separate the cardigans depending on their styles that will help you to see how to best style them effortlessly everyday. Because once you get this part in your mind, you can easily style them without putting a lot of thought and more importantly time.
Currently there are 5 styles of cardigans that we normally see and here is how you can find out what to wear with them.
Open Front Cardigan
This is the most commonly used cardigan and for a good reason. Its comfortable because they are loose fit or are designed to just be flowy instead of restricted which is definitely comfortable and wearable all of the time when you are looking for a layering piece. And you can easily find a spring or summer and fall & winter style in every color and pattern.
In spring and summer you will want to pick a light weight cardigan which is either cotton blend or just really light so you don’t feel too hot in them. You can checkout my spring style guide where I am sharing ways you can style them.
In fall and winter we look for something cozier like a cashmere or a thick knit one that will keep us cozy and comfortable at the sometime. And open front cardigan is always associated with something more casual and laid back and hence makes for a great lounge wear or everyday wear piece which keeps feels comfortable as well as makes us feel chic in them.
Because of the flowy nature of this cardigan, it always feels more casual, so if you are looking to wear it for a more structured and sophisticated look, then it is a bit difficult to achieve it. It can definitely be done by adding a belt which I am sharing in my belts 101 post, but it always creates a casual relaxed style.
I always find styling them with leggings and boots for everyday wear when I am running errands or wearing them with sweatpants if I am at home and want to feel cute and cozy as the most effortless ways to wear them where I don’t have to put a lot of thought into them and they still look stylish.
You can also wear them with jeans as well. I have an entire post where I am sharing a quick guide to wear long cardigans with jeans.
Long Buttoned Cardigan
This is a variation of the open front cardigan which looks more structured because of the button details. A longer buttoned cardigan would always fall below your hips and would look like a coat but are light weight and less structured. I always call them the in between coats. These are perfect for in between weather or even work wear.
If you are not a fan of coats or if you are at home most of the time but want to look cute and stylish, then add this third layer and you will instantly achieve that.
Buttoned long cardigans look great with T shirt dresses or flowy bohemian dresses where you don’t have much of structured details, so the cardigan can bring that in. The button details of the cardigans elevates your easy effortless outfit.
I also love wearing them with lounge wear when I want to elevate it more than making it look like a loungewear.
You can also wear them with skirts and jeans, but I always find them looking the most flattering on dresses.
Coatigans or Cardigan coats are a new style of cardigans that I have been seeing and wearing since last year. These cardigans are much thicker than the regular open front cardigans and have much more structured silhouette. Honestly, these are my most favorite style and if you want to buy just one long cardigan, I would suggest getting a coatigan which will act as a casual and also a structured one.
They have a structured silhouette which means that they are more fitted in style. And even though they don’t have buttons, because of the structured collar details and sometimes even coat like collars they look more sophisticated. I own one from Banana republic last year which is the most common coatigan styles out there, and I have shared some easy ways to style them.
For me these coatigans are excellent outerwear to dress up and elevate any casual outfit. I have a dedicated post where I have shared some easy ways you can style these coatigans in your everyday fall & winter outfit.
Since these are a newer style of cardigans, I only see them for fall & winter as the knit wear material is thicker and perfect for cooler months of the year.
Mid Length Buttoned Cardigan
The mid length cardigans will fall on your hips and are the casual alternative to blazer. They can be thick or they can also be light weight. So you can easily wear them from spring to winter. But, unlike the long open front cardigan, this cardigan does not have to be thick for fall and winter, because you can easily layer them on a sweater to create a warmer outfit when you don’t feel like wearing a coat or a blazer that can feel a bit too much sometimes.
Because of the button details, these cardigans look really structured and stylish. You can wear them with T shirt and jeans for a more casual look. Or you can create a business casual work wear look with a button down shirt and trousers.
You can also layer them onshore dresses, or casual sweater dresses where you want to add a but more texture to a plain look. I prefer the V neck button cardigans over the straight shirt style buttoned cardigan because they are more versatile which means you can get a lot more wear out of a single cardigan.
I found this really cute one from Loft that has the perfect fall color and also looks really casual and structured for my everyday work from home wear.
And we have come to my favorite cardigan because these are versatile and a great replacement to any sweaters and tops when you are kind of bored of wearing them.
The button details elevate you overall look but because they are cropped in style, you can wear them as your top and you can also layer them on lightweight tops like tank tops or camisoles or even t shirts.
I love wearing them with tailored pants, jeans even skirts for fall and winter which makes for a great work look as well as special occasion wear.
Pair it with jeans, and you can create a boho chic outfit. Pair it with tailored pants and you have work wear. And if you want to dress up the cardigan pair it with pleated skirts or even regular skirts and you have a party outfit or a cute date night look.
And if you want to add a little more details to these cardigans, & Other stories has these cute metal buttoned cardigans with bees, dolphins and other characters that look so fun and also dress up the plain cardigan.
What Tops to Wear with a Cardigan?
If you are wearing a cropped cardigan you can easily get away with not wearing any tops underneath since they look like sweaters or tops themselves. But if you really want to wear something underneath, I always prefer a V neck tank top or a Camisole that is light weight and will also stay hidden underneath.
All the other cardigans are used as a layering piece and hence would need a top underneath.
In Spring & Sumer, I love wearing T shirts, Short sleeve blouses, or even sleeveless blouses. If you are wearing a lightweight cardigan in lighter color, always make sure that you wear a lighter top underneath because you don’t want the sleeves to be visible underneath the cardigan which looks undone and not flattering at all.
So, if you are wearing a white long cardigan make sure that you wear a sleeveless of the same white top underneath.
In Fall & Winter, You can wear sweaters or long sleeve T shirts and Button down shirts with cardigans that will keep you cozy and also look flattering with the cardigan. I always find wearing something fitted (not necessarily figure hugging) with the long cardigan always looks flattering.
If you are wearing a coatigan, you can easily layer them on dresses or even skirts and tops as well. The structured style of the coatigan will flatter these flowy outfits.
Since most cardigans are knit wear and have the knit material, wearing a similar textured sweater will not look as flattering. So, always make sure that you mix and match the texture of the tops when you are layering.
How to Not Look Frumpy in Cardigans?
This is easier than you think. I will list the following steps that I take when I layering a cardigan or picking one for my outfit. These steps will help you to always look chic and stylish even in the simplest cardigan.
- If you are wearing a top and bottom, always make sure that you are tucking your top in your bottom and then layer the cardigan. You don’t have to tuck them in completely, you can easily French tuck as well. I have an entire post about tucking that might help you with this.
- If you are wearing a dress, make sure that the dress is fitted and is not too flowy otherwise, you will loose your shape and will look frumpy. You can wear a fit and flare dress or belt your cardigan or your dress to create a shape that will elevate your entire look.
- Always make sure that the sleeves of your top are not visible underneath the cardigan or more like glaring specially if you are wearing a short sleeve blouse or a puff sleeve blouse. You can pick a blouse that has long sleeves, so its not crumpled inside the sleeves of the cardigan that looks really undone and is my biggest pet peeve.
- Don’t wear baggy clothes underneath long cardigans. If you want to wear loose fit jeans or outfit, pick the mid length cardigan that does not drown the shape of your body, this is the biggest reason of looking frumpy in it.
- Belt your cardigan for a more defined and elevated look. You can do this no matter what you are wearing, and you will realize that your outfit will always look flattering.
How to Dress Up a Cardigan?
Some easy ways you can dress up and elevate your cardigan look if you are going for a special occasion or you want to look nice in them:
- Wear it with something stylish like leather pants or leather skirts which always looks more elevated and stylish.
- Accessorize your outfit with a nice layered necklace if you are wearing something casual. That always elevates your look. You can also pick a scarf if its cooler weather to layer a really casual and laid back outfit. Or you can use a belt which is my favorite way to style a long cardigan.
- You can also use a cropped cardigan as a base layer and layer it with a blazer or a coat that always looks elevated and stylish.
- Wear a cropped cardigan with Tulle skirt if you are looking for holiday look, that’s my favorite outfit.
What is your go to cardigan style that you wear the most and how has this post helped you here.