In this blog post I am going to show your four different ways to wear a cardigan, using the same one, in four different looks. I think this is a fun way to think about clothes because it allows you to justify a purchase when you’ve taken a few moments to see the item from different points of view.
When I am shopping, I frequently ask the salespeople for their favorite looks with the piece I am considering buying. This is a great trick, because they’re all typically very visual people, AND they have seen lots of other people trying on the piece.
And if you’re shopping on line, scroll down on the item narrative to find the “how to style this” and you’ll come away with lots of ideas! Then take a second and type those suggestions into your Notes app on your phone so as to remember your plan.
Why should you buy a cardigan?
Cardigans have long been a staple in my closet for many reasons. First of all, they are incredibly versatile as a third piece in an outfit. They complete a look and they are very easy to pack. When I go out to lunch or dinner in warm weather, I frequently roll up a cotton cardigan and pop it in a tote in case I get cold from a weather change, shady table, or air conditioning. And speaking of packing, I always keep a black cashmere cardigan in my carry-on for air travel.
It goes with everything and because of the color if someone spills on me due to turbulence, no one is the wiser. Cardigans come in multiple different styles from the classic waist length one in today’s blog, to long oversized ones (later blog). They come in many knit fabrics ranging from cotton, to linen, to all types of wools.
They come with buttons, snaps, and even zippers. Overall, I prefer the classic short knit ones typically made of cotton or cashmere. I usually buy solid color ones in colors that I wear a lot such as hot pink, black, white, red, turquoise, etc. I prefer solid colors typically because they go with so many items.
But today I did this blog on a green polka dot cardigan and was still able to come up with four distinctly different looks. I hope you enjoy reading this and I even added several other cardigan outfits I have worn in the past with their associated blogs.
How to Wear a Cardigan Four Ways
Cardigan with a skirt
In the first photo I am wearing a green polka dot Talbots knit cardigan over a green floral Talbots pencil skirt. (This outfit was my Easter outfit for spring 2021 and I loved it!!!) I am wearing the sweater open over a ruffled collar J Crew Factory sleeveless blouse (similar one, here).
Notice that the sleeves of the cardigan are three quarters in length which is something I prefer as it looks more modern and fashionable than full-length sleeves. But don’t worry if your cardigan is full-length, just push up the sleeves. You’ll be amazed at the difference in attitude your outfit projects.
Also notice that I added a J Crew yellow patent leather belt over the pencil skirt at the natural waist. I know many women are reluctant to wear belts as their waist isn’t their best feature. I find however, that especially when wearing a cardigan or another jacket, you are only showing about 1/3 of your belt because the sides are hidden by the sweater or jacket.
Try this and see if you think you look better. I paired nude patent leather AGL D’orsay pumps with an ankle strap with this outfit. These shoes are very comfortable (really) and the pointed toe with the nude color both serve to lengthen my leg line. My tan bag has rattan handles that always says “Spring” to me (similar one, here).
Cardigan with jeans
This was my St. Paddy’s day look and it was very easy to wear. I wore the same cotton knit Talbots cardigan but this time I wore it buttoned up. It was again worn over the cotton blouse from J Crew (similar one, here) and I should mention that ruffles are definitely on trend in 2021. I’m not a huge fan of ruffles, but a subtle touch at a collar looks fine to me.
My pants are my current favorite skinny jeans in a dark wash and they are by Wit and Wisdom which I believe is a Nordstrom brand. These jeans have lots of stretch for comfort, even sitting in them for multiple hours, and yet they hold their shape nicely. I paired black cap-toed AGL leather ballet flats with the pants and added a tan Coach doctor’s bag for a warmer weather look.
(When I tried a black bag, it looked too heavy for California, but would work well back in cooler Chicago (where I reside in the summer and fall). Lastly, check out the classic accessories of an Ann Taylor pearl bracelet and pearl stud earrings from Macy’s to complete this ensemble.
Cardigan with dress pants
This is how I wore this last year when we went to a show (pre-Covid). I wore the cardigan open over a white Cabi scoop-necked tunic and then wore these very cute J Jill essential cotton pants. What makes this outfit especially unique is the use of this very fun multi-stranded pearl necklace (similar one, here).
Isn’t it interesting to see how different a cardigan can look when changing up the jewelry as in this look? My Ann Taylor block-heeled suede sandal is especially comfy because the front strap is wavy. Again because the shoe color coordinates nicely with my pants, my leg length remains long (or at least as long as my 5’4” frame will dictate!)
Cardigan with shorts
This last outfit shows the very same cardigan in the most casual look. Here I wore a white v-neck Banana Republic tee shirt under the green cardigan and Loft dark wash cuffed denim shorts. My white leather sneakers are from Cole Hahn and I actually found them on sale at Saks Off Fifth.
I think they look great with this sweater because they have that pink accent on the back of the shoe. I love pink paired with green as it reminds me of the decor in the 60’s where we paired pink with avocado green and since I lived in Chicago then, I doubt that I even knew what an avocado was back then! Speaking of pink this crossbody hot pink number by joy susan is a steal and comes in 27 colors, check it out!
Cardigan with a jumpsuit
Here’s a solid red cardigan worn over a black and white jumpsuit. Here’s that blog post here. (Jumpsuits are BIG again this spring!) Oh, and isn’t that a cute way to style a scarf when it’s hot?
Cardigan with a dress
Here’s a summer dress by Tommy Bahama that I paired with a hot pink cardigan from Land’s End. Here’s that post. (I miss my Chicago garden!)
Cardigan worn layered over a tunic and cami for Thanksgiving
Here’s how a cardigan can be layered over a longer sheer tunic (with a cami underneath) and it keeps the top from getting too flowy. Isn’t this a nice deep shade of indigo blue in the cardigan? Fun purse too!!! Here’s that post.
Solid grey cardigan with a print tunic
Here’s the opposite of today’s main post: a solid cardigan worn over a pink leopard print tunic. Check out that blog here.
So in closing, I think cardigans are the perfect accompaniment to just about any kind of outfit. I think that the best way to look good wearing a cardigan is to be sure it fits well and that you push up the sleeves if possible. They are useful in every season as I have lightweight ones for summer and spring and heavier ones for winter and fall. I will be doing a review of how I style longer summery cardigans shortly, so stay tuned for that.
Please tell me in the comments below how you feel about cardigans. Are they a basic for you? What’s your favorite “go to” cardigan outfit idea? Please let me know as I really enjoy ALL of your comments and kind words. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.
PS Some of my readers have asked me the significance of items that have been typed with pink ink. These are “magical links” because when you click on them, you will be brought right to the site where you can purchase that item if you so choose. They are officially called “affiliate links” which means when you shop through them, you help support my blog (all at absolutely no additional cost to you) so thank you! In addition, there are previous blog posts which are also highlighted in pink so when you click on them, you will see the former post in its entirety.