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Are Cardigans Still In? Which Ones to Keep and Which to Toss

Cardigan Styles

 Something I get asked a lot is “are cardigans still in?” Here’s a breakdown of what cardigans you should keep, or toss, and how to wear them.

 

One of my most frequently asked questions recently is, “are cardigans still in?”

My answer is YES, but definitely just certain types or styles of cardigans. Here is a breakdown of what cardigans to keep, donate and upgrade in your closet.

 

 

Types of Cardigans

Wrap or “waterfall” cardigans

  • Personally, I’m not a fan. The extra fabric in the front is unnecessary, and adds bulk to your look. If you have these in your closet, I think they’re worth getting rid of.

Duster cardigans

  • These are super long cardigans, typically something calf length or longer. These were really trendy more than a decade ago, and personally I don’t love them. If you do wear them, choose a pair of taller shoes to give you any extra lift you can get, and wear with pants or jeans that are closer fit, not a wide leg pair. I’d also recommend wearing a top with a neckline that shows a little more of your décolletage because with all that fabric, you need to open up your face a little more!

Button up crew neck cardigan

  • These are the traditional cardigans that people wore back in our grandparent’s time, with just the top button buttoned and the rest open. These can easily look very dated, but a great way to update them is to button them all the way up and wear as a pullover sweater! Instantly modernized!

Open front cardigan

  • This just means it’s a cardigan without buttons. These are fine – buttons are personal preference. But make sure you read my tips below for choosing one that’s the right height and shape for you!

Cropped cardigans

  • Cropped cardigans are super trendy right now. Button them up and wear them with a pair of jeans or a skirt!

Oversized cardigans

  • Oversized cardigans are also very trendy and have been for the last five or ten years. I like them, but I’d recommend keeping the rest of your outfit more fitted and simple so you’re not drowning in fabric.

Grandpa cardigan

  • These are typically button-front, oversized, hip length, and made of a wool or wool blend fabric. They look like you stole them right from your grandpa! I think they can be cute, but keep the rest of your outfit modern so you don’t look like you stole grandpa’s ENTIRE look.

Belted Cardigan

  • Belted cardigans are VERY flattering. Cardigans can sometimes give you a boxy look because they often have very little shape, but belted cardigans give you a waist with the tie. I’d wear them with more fitted pants or jeans to keep the outfit sleek.

Bolero cardigans

  • The last time I wore a bolero cardigan was back in early high school, which was more than 20 years ago. They are very outdated, although they’re making a comeback as all things in the 80’s and 90’s currently are, but I still am not a fan. If you still have these from the first time around, it’s time to get them out of your closet.

 

What to look for when buying a cardigan

  1. Material matters! Thin, super stretchy, jersey fabric is not a great option for cardigans (like the blue one I’m wearing in THIS VIDEO). Yes, it’s soft, but it’ll hang on EVERY lump and bump. If you have any booty at all, it’ll just sit right on it like a shelf. Look for chunkier or thicker knitted material, or cozy wool blends, or anything with a little more shape and structure.
  2. How long should my cardigan be? You can choose the length depending on your style, but I think super long (duster) and super short (bolero) always look the most outdated the quickest. I’d recommend choosing somewhere in the middle. If you’re more petite, stick to a shorter style to show more of your leg line and avoid looking shorter. And I’d always recommend choosing options that hit higher or lower than your widest part. For me, my widest part is my hips, so a cardigan ending right at that length makes me look wider. So I choose a cropped or a longer version.
  3. Does the shape at the bottom matter? Some cardigans have rounded hems, some have drapey/pointed hems, some have very straight hems. The pointed hems are definitely outdated, but the other styles are personal preference! The rounded hems on longer cardigans create a really soft look, and are great over dresses, but I like a straight hem for shorter cardigans.
  4. Are printed cardigans still in? Yes, you can absolutely wear printed cardigans. I have a leopard cardigan that I love, and you can do color block or striped, or floral! Just maybe avoid the very popular aztec print that was huge about a decade ago. That definitely will feel dated.
  5. Check the fit. Although oversized cardigans are definitely trendy right now, you do not have to choose oversized. However, as a soft layer that you’ll probably be wearing over other clothing, choose something that’s not too skin-tight since that’s going to create bulges and bulk from your clothing underneath.

 

How to wear some of my favorite styles of cardigans

I don’t wear or even own all of the cardigans listed above, but here are a few of my favorite cardigan styles and a few ways I wear them.

 

How to wear a cropped cardigan

  • Try your cropped cardigan buttoned up and worn like a pullover sweater with jeans or a skirt! Wearing them open with a t-shirt or top underneath can feel a little less modern.
leopard-skirt-with-gray-cardigan
WHITE PANTS WITH GRAY CROPPED CARDIGAN

SIMILAR GRAY CARDIGAN | AMAZON SKIRT | SIMILAR ANKLE BOOTS | SIMILAR WHITE PANTS | GOLDEN GOOSE SNEAKERS

 

How to wear mid length cardigans

  • These are definitely the most versatile! Try them with jeans, for the office or work, wear them with a shorter skirt, or over a fitted or shorter dress (I’d avoid wearing them over a long, flowy dress since that’ll give you a very boxy look).
Fall Tall Boots with skirt and cardigan
gray cardigan
white eyelet dress and cardigan
baseball cap with cardigan and joggers
Rothys flats with belted cardigan and leggings
leather leggings with black cardigan

AMAZON CARDIGAN | TARGET BLACK DRESS PANTS | ROTHY’S FLATS | SIMILAR BLACK BELTED CARDIGAN | SPANX LEATHER LEGGINGS | SIMILAR PATENT BLACK HEELS

 

I hope that’s helpful as you go through your closet and decide which cardigans to keep or toss!

 

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One Comment

  1. Elisa says:

    Great post. Thank you!

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