It’s amazing how a single item in your wardrobe can change the mood, function, and overall style of an outfit. The removal or addition of one thing can turn a look from daytime to nighttime, or serious to whimsical. Of course, what that magic item is can certainly vary, but today I want to take a look at an extremely versatile and useful piece, something every woman should have in her arsenal: the cardigan.
In some ways, cardigans have earned a bad reputation. They’re often thought of as accompanying a set of pearls and a matching shell–the warmer half of a preppy, Junior League-style twinset. But in recent years, cardigans have become far more accessible and are at a point where they’re now not only ubiquitous, but indispensable. They’re perfect to throw on in hard-to-pin-down weather, easy to stow away because they’re lighter than a jacket, and useful to stash in a desk drawer or hang on the back of a chair if your office happens to be as frigid as mine in. Perhaps one of their best attributes, though, is how lazy they can let you be when it comes to your fashion choices: stock your closet full of cardigans, and you have a different outfit every day even though you’ve put forward very minimal effort. All you really have to do is throw a cardigan on over a shirt and some jeans, and you’re ready to go. They’re a no-worry solution to any fashion quandary, and therein lies their true beauty. Cardigans are, it must be said, an essential for those of out there who are lazy when it comes to personal style, but still want to look pulled together and presentable.
H&M cotton cardigan, $13; Black top, $40; Green top, $25; Long sleeve top, $20; Knit top, $25; H&M cardigan, $15; Dorothy Perkins zebra print top, $30; G by Guess floral top, $24; Dorothy Perkins sheer cardigan, $20; Crochet top, $40; Dorothy Perkins short cardigan, $16
The image above contains a small but fairly representative sample of the different designs and options you can look for in a cardigan: there’s the classic (which can either have a V- or crew-neck), the drapey, the embellished, the patterned, the striped, and the cropped. The possibilities for different colors and combinations is endless.
Of course there are a few things to consider when building your cardigan collection. For one thing, you’ll want to consider the practical bits, like sleeve length and neckline. For another, though, you’ll want to pay attention to fabric (this is especially important when it comes to cardigans that drape– if a fabric doesn’t hang well, it can easily end up looking frumpy), and fit. Like any article of clothing, some cuts and shapes look better on certain figures. Just because this item is going to be used as a piece of quasi-outerwear doesn’t mean that you should settle on something if you don’t like the way the cut fits your body; indeed, because there is so much variability in the cardigan family, you have the freedom to choose pieces that make you look and feel great. Above all else, though, you want to make sure your cardigan(s) give you room to express yourself and your sense of style. You may be lazy about it, but you still want to look good, right?