The Lazy Lady’s Guide to Style: Cardigans

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.

11 cardigans representing different styles and colors

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?


By Emilie

Runner, yogini, knitter, Manhattanite in spite of myself. Also blogging at

6 replies on “The Lazy Lady’s Guide to Style: Cardigans”

I want that Zebra print cardigan so badly. Sadly, I live in Canada, and shipping here from the U.K. would be rather pricey.
I love cardigans generally, but does anyone else have the problem of the beloved cardigan + time–> the saddest cardigan ever? Basically, I discover a sweater which is the perfect combination of comfort and fit, and then I wear it with the same vigor that a 3 yr old carries around a blankie…. usually past the point of niceness, through some serious pilling, neglecting to wear every other sweater I own, until I go visit my parents and my mother pries it out of my clammy cardigan hording hands.

I couldn’t agree more!

I love my cardigans and wear them almost year round. It’s amazing how one little thing can take an outfit from plain and boring to put together and snazzy in a moment. My favorite is a zebra print one I picked up at Lane Bryant last fall.

I’m also knitting myself a very lightweight tigerlilly colored one to really pop some color in my wardrobe.

Another way to dress them up with with a sparkly brooch or pin. My favorites are ones that people dont expect, like spiders and beetles.

I love cardigans. When I wanted to stop looking like a college kid but not give up comfort, I basically swapped them in for hoodies (and boots for sneakers) with my jeans, and tada, I looked put-together without really making any extra effort. Fall through Spring, I pretty much live in cardigans, over either tanks, tees, or button-downs, sometimes belted. I like ones that are embellished or tie at the waist. They’re also good for winterizing lightweight dresses (add tights and cardigan and done!).

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