Each fall and spring we need to become more imaginative when creating outfits that can cope with cool mornings and warmer days. Clever layering is often the key. Cardigans were born for this time of year and most women have at least one in their closet, but far from being a grab and go item, the cardigan can also be a real outfit transformer.

So in this time, I want to share my favorite ways to upgrade the humble cardigan into something special. 

T + Scarf

Your standard white tee and denim uniform duo is great for casual days. But add a bright hued cardigan, and complement it with a fabulous scarf and your every day instantly elevates to wow. 

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Back to Front

I admit I learned this trick from Gok Wan and it’s been a favorite ever since. It’s such a creative and unexpected way to wear a cardigan. It adds interest to the back of your ensemble and gives you a perfect canvas in the front for a statement necklace. If you have long hair, be sure to wear it in a sleek ponytail or a classy updo to showcase he back. 

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Cardigans are typically made of knit fabrics which are not usually associated with a tailored look, however, add a belt and the look instantly upgrades to tailored. An added bonus is that a belt helps to create a womanly hourglass silhouette. Accompany this look with sleek footwear and boxy bags.

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A cardigan buttoned all the way up or worn completely closed/fastened radiates a more formal/serious style sensibility. This is a perfect look for the office, providing a level of seriousness without looking too bulky or too structured. A buttoned-up cardigan can be used as an alternative to a collared shirt and paired with a pencil skirt or tailored pants.

Since a closed cardigan veers more toward simple style, you can jazz up this piece with bold tops and shorts, statement necklaces, scarves or belts. When wearing closed cardigans, it’s advisable to look for cardigans with interesting visual details like faux pockets, contrast piping, or fancy buttons — this will add more sartorial to your look while maintaining the formality.

How To Style A Cardigan _Closed Formality22

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Wearing an open cardigan conveys a relaxed and friendly demeanor and casual chic appearance. Let the fuss-free and approachable vibe of this look lead you towards pieces that express the same aesthetic. Reach for flowing floral printed tunic tops, relaxed fit denim, simple yet chic flats, and feminine pleated skirts.  

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The key to making your cardigan (and wardrobe) work for you is looking for ways to expand the possibilities. One way is to do this is to layer it underneath other garments such a pinafore, sleeveless dress or jacket.

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As a Pop of Color

A bright cardigan is all you need to perk up your style, especially in summer. If you’re a woman who loves black and white, you’ll benefit even more from injecting a pop of color into your clothing rotation. Monochromatic is great, but it can get a little ho-hum, and there’s nothing like hot pink to break your streak of strictly neutral dressing. Color is one of the best ways to have fun with fashion!

How To Style A Cardigan_Color Pop22

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  1. Thanks again for sharing ways to upgrade the looks of a cardigan. I own several and I can’t wait to turn it into a wow !!!

  2. Great tips. Ann. I am going to try the backwards approach soon. Cardigans are great travel treasures due to versatility. Thanks for generously sharing your knowledge. I always look forward to receiving your tips and tricks.

    A faithful fan,

  3. Wow, who knew a cardigan could be worn backwards? I love that, Ann. Thank you.
    I want you to know that you are the first person to give me permission to wear my cardigan open without buttons closed! Aha. I thought you only did that when your buttons didn’t meet the other buttonhole! I am so relieved I can wear my cardigans open for no reason but for the relaxed look…LOL

  4. I’ve just bought an emerald cardigan because I loved it but haven’t worn it as I wasn’t sure what to wear it with but now I do. Thank you for this.

  5. So many ways to wear a cardigan!
    Thank you Ann for all the great tips.

  6. Cardigan has been my wardrobe staple and I’ve been doing most of the styling tips except for wearing the front as back. Why haven’t I thought of doing that? Such a clever idea. Thanks for sharing this, Ann. Looking forward to more styling tips.

  7. […] Recently, Ann Reinten, founder & CEO, wrote an article on ‘7 Ways to Wear a Cardigan’. […]

  8. Hi Ann- thank you so much for these tips!
    I always thought that a cardigan is not “the” solution for me, but with all these possibilities shown you encourage me an I’ll finally dare to buy one and begin some new way of styling….

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