How to Wear a Cardigan Sweater, Plus 13 to Consider

Trust us, you won't look like a grandpa

How to Wear a Cardigan Sweater, Plus 13 to Consider
Farfetch, Uniqlo, End Clothing

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2020 is the year of the cardigan sweater. Some might say it all began when a certain Harry Styles donned a J.W. Anderson patchwork version in February, inspiring hordes of TikTokers to recreate their own. Then you have Taylor Swift’s release of folklore in July, featuring the track “cardigan” accompanied by a video in which Swift is wearing the titular piece of clothing, the very same one made available for purchase. Regardless of the machinations of celebrity or fashion that have made the cardigan so ubiquitous this year, it’s evident the knitwear is destined to be a facet of your fall wardrobe — you just might not know it yet.

It’s not as though the cardigan is new, but rarely is it given a fair chance when it comes to one’s fall clothing. Maybe it’s the association with Mister Rogers and grandfatherly figures of the like that have rendered it incapable of being perceived as “cool” for many. Or maybe it’s just that people don’t know how to wear them.

The cardigan sweater poses certain styling difficulties, namely, what does one wear underneath? The combination of collared shirt and cardigan can read as too stuffy, while something like a turtleneck comes off as try-hard psuedo-intellectual. But the best course of action remains the simple one, like a plain tee, something casual that will allow the cardigan to do most of the work. And if you’re feeling confident in your styling capabilities, go the Kurt Cobain route and layer a cardigan (preferably mohair) over an open button-down and a graphic tee for a look that’s distinctly 90’s.

Below are 13 cardigan sweaters for incorporating into your fall wardrobe, and at last giving all those shackets and chore coats a much needed break.

Cos Organic Cotton-Merino Wool Mix Cardigan

Cos Organic Cotton-Merino Wool Mix Cardigan

If you really want to be on trend this fall, opt for a cardigan with an oversized silhouette like this colorblocked one from Cos. The looser, roomier fit was popularized on the F/W 2020 runways and allows for an even cozier experience. With the bold colorblocks but understated tones, all you needs to complete the look is a white tee underneath.

Everlane The Felted Merino Cardigan

Everlane The Felted Merino Cardigan

For those who prefer a slimmer fit, Everlane’s Felted Merino Cardigan features a streamlined silhouette that remains conducive to layering. By forgoing the usual addition of pockets, the cardigan sweater remains immune to any bulkiness.

Todd Snyder Alpaca Cardigan in Camel
Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder Alpaca Cardigan in Camel

On appearances alone this Todd Snyder cardigan exudes a feeling of warmth, and with a mix of baby alpaca and merino wool, it certainly promises to be. The 7 gauge weight of the sweater means it’s suitable for wear now with just a tee or shirt underneath, but come winter it will prove to be an invaluable layering piece under more heavy duty outerwear.

Jamieson's of Shetland Stripe V-Neck Cardigan
End Clothing

Jamieson’s of Shetland Stripe V-Neck Cardigan

In the words of fashion icon Spongebob Squarepants, “The best time to wear a striped sweater is all the time.”

Uniqlo Extra Fine Merino V-Neck Long-Sleeve Cardigan

Uniqlo Extra Fine Merino V-Neck Long-Sleeve Cardigan

It couldn’t hurt to have a basic black cardigan at your disposal, especially for those days when a jacket feels too cumbersome and you need something that will go with anything but also come in handy in the event of a chill. Uniqlo’s merino cardigan sweater fits the bill and would be a smart addition to any fall outfit.

L.L.Bean Classic Ragg Wool Sweater

L.L.Bean Classic Ragg Wool Sweater

Look like a walking, breathing L.L.Bean ad with this ragg wool sweater. Embody the spirit of fall and wear this cardigan while participating in a range of seasonal activities, from apple and pumpkin picking to cozying up by the fire.

J.Crew Linen-Cotton Sweater in Madras Jacquard

J.Crew Linen-Cotton Cardigan Sweater in Madras Jacquard

There are bound to be some unseasonably warmer days and when that’s the case, pull out this linen-cotton cardigan sweater from J.Crew. The fabric is better suited to warmer temperatures while the mismatched plaid patterns feels distinctly fall.

Banks Journal Listen Knitwear
Banks Journal

Banks Journal Listen Knitwear

If you’re not one to shy away from embracing a little prep, this cable knit cardigan from Banks Journal offers just the right amount. The detailing is subtle enough to nearly be missed if you’re not looking closely, but it adds much needed texture to distinguish it from all the other navy cardigans.

iets frans...Plaid Brushed Cardigan
Urban Outfitters

iets frans…Plaid Brushed Cardigan

Relive your teenage angst and pay homage to Kurt Cobain with this ultra-fuzzy cardigan. Pair it with a black tee and pants and your most disinterested scowl.

Gap 1969 Premium

Gap 1969 Premium Cardigan

Bring a little slouch to your look with this washed navy cardigan sweater from Gap. The slightly loose silhouette lends the piece a feeling of offhanded casualness and cool, making for a nice contrast when worn with slightly dressier trousers or chinos.

Universal Works Patch-Embellished Intarsia

Universal Works Patch-Embellished Intarsia Cardigan

You might not think blue and brown as two colors that would pair well together, but this Universal Works cardigan proves otherwise. The distribution of the bright blue patches is so random as to make the placement seem unintentional, thus making the cardigan feel cool without trying too hard.

Mango Structured Cashmere Cotton Cardigan

Mango Structured Cashmere Cotton Cardigan

Cardigans don’t have to have buttons — in fact they can have zippers. How exciting! The zipper on this Mango cardigan further streamlines the silhouette while the structure neckline makes for a more modern looking cardigan.

Aimé Leon Dore Cable Trim
Aime Leon Dore

Aimé Leon Dore Cable Trim Cardigan

Some of us are of the mind that Mister Rogers is in actuality a style icon and seek to pay homage to his infallible style with this cardigan from Aimé Leon Dore. We’d like to think the rich red hue and contrasting cream cable trim would have looked right at home in the Neighborhood.

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