15 Types of Cardigans: Unveiling Your Ultimate Style Layer

Cardigans are a versatile and beloved clothing item with a special place in fashion. With their charming designs and the ability to effortlessly enhance any outfit, they have become a staple in both men’s and women’s wardrobes. 

In this article, we’ll explore various types of cardigans that cater to different tastes and occasions, helping you understand which styles might suit you best and how to make the most of them in your daily attire.

Let’s first understand what a cardigan is and when to wear it.

What is a Cardigan?

A cardigan is a sweater with an open front, typically secured with buttons or other closures. It’s a versatile and practical garment that not only adds a layer of style but also offers the convenience of easy wear. 

Key Takeaway
Whether you're dressing up for an event or looking for a cozy layer on a chilly day, a cardigan is a go-to choice that combines fashion and functionality.

Who Can Sport Cardigans: A Style for Everyone

Cardigans break barriers of age and gender, proving to be a versatile addition to any wardrobe. Women have various options: classic, chunky knit, open-front, belted, oversized, printed, embellished, and longline cardigans. 

Men can also enjoy classic, chunky knit, open-front, belted, oversized, printed, embellished, and longline styles. This inclusivity empowers individuals to showcase their unique fashion preferences. 

Cardigans have become a universal choice for elevating outfits and expressing personal flair by offering comfort and style.

Types of Cardigans

When it comes to adaptable fashion choices, cardigans take center stage. From timeless classics to modern trends, the world of cardigans offers an array of styles to suit every taste and occasion.

Explore this spectrum of choices as we delve into the various types of cardigans that can effortlessly elevate your wardrobe.

Classic Cardigans

One of the most enduring styles in the world of cardigans is the classic button-down design. These timeless pieces come in various fabrics like wool, cotton, and blends, allowing you to choose the material that suits your preferences and the season. 

Classic cardigans offer a refined look and can be easily dressed up or down, making them an essential addition to your wardrobe. 

These cardigans provide endless styling options, whether paired with a casual t-shirt and jeans or worn over a crisp shirt for a more formal occasion.

Knit Cardigans

When the weather turns chilly, there’s nothing like slipping into a chunky knit cardigan. These cozy companions are known for their thick, warm textures that make them perfect for colder seasons. 

With various colors and patterns available, you can express your style while staying snug. Layering is a breeze with chunky knit cardigans, allowing you to create stylish ensembles that keep you toasty. 

Pair these cardigans with fitted bottoms to avoid looking bulky to achieve a balanced silhouette.

Open-Front Cardigans

Open-front, or waterfall, cardigans offer a relaxed, flowing look that’s easy to achieve. Without buttons, they drape gracefully over your outfit, adding a touch of effortlessness to your appearance. 

These cardigans are fantastic for layering, allowing you to experiment with various tops and bottoms. Their versatile nature makes them a must-have for your wardrobe, whether you’re going for a casual day out or a laid-back evening.

Belted Cardigans

Belted cardigans bring a sense of structure and definition to your attire. With built-in belts or options to add your own, these cardigans cinch at the waist, highlighting your figure for a more polished look. 

Whether you’re aiming for a relaxed weekend outfit or a sophisticated office ensemble, belted cardigans have you covered. They effortlessly transition between casual and formal settings, making them versatile for any occasion.

Oversized Cardigans

Embrace comfort and style with oversized cardigans. Their relaxed fit offers a laid-back yet trendy appearance perfect for various outings. These cardigans are known for their versatility and can be easily paired with different outfits. 

Don’t be surprised if these oversized wonders become your go-to choice for cozy days or fashionable outings. From young adults to more mature individuals, oversized cardigans have garnered a broad fan base.

Printed and Embellished Cardigans

Printed and embellished cardigans are the way to go for those who want to add a touch of personality to their outfits. These cardigans come in eye-catching prints and patterns or even with delicate embellishments like sequins. 

They’re a fantastic way to infuse visual interest into your look and make a statement. However, balancing your outfit is essential when wearing such intricate cardigans. Opt for simpler tops and bottoms to let the cardigan shine without overwhelming your ensemble.

Longline Cardigans

Longline cardigans are all about elegance and elongation. These cardigans extend beyond the traditional lengths, creating a visually appealing and sophisticated appearance. 

They’re excellent for achieving a more refined look, and their length can be balanced by pairing them with fitted bottoms. 

Whether you’re going for a relaxed outing or stepping into a semi-formal gathering, longline cardigans effortlessly adapt to various occasions.

Cardigan Coats

As the weather gets colder, cardigan coats step in to blend style with warmth. These heavier cardigans often mimic the look of coats, making them ideal for winter wear.

They provide an extra layer of insulation without sacrificing style. Cardigan coats can elevate your winter outfits, offering both comfort and fashion. 

From a casual stroll to a more formal event, these cardigans are designed to keep you cozy and stylish.

Bolero Cardigans

Bolero cardigans are shorter, cropped versions of traditional cardigans. They add a touch of sophistication to outfits and are often worn open-front over dresses, tops, or blouses. These versatile cardigans come in various fabrics, colors, and patterns. 

Their shorter length accentuates the waist and creates a balanced look. Bolero cardigans offer a stylish alternative to jackets or blazers, perfect for formal events and casual outings.

Hooded Cardigans

Hooded cardigans are a combination of comfort and functionality. These cardigans come with an attached hood, providing extra warmth and protection from the elements. They’re often made from soft and cozy materials like knit or fleece, making them perfect for staying snug during colder weather.

Hooded cardigans can be styled casually for a relaxed look or dressed up for a trendy twist. The hood adds a practical touch, offering shelter from rain or wind when needed. These cardigans are versatile additions to any wardrobe, blending comfort and fashion seamlessly.

Vest Style Cardigans

Vest-style cardigans, or sleeveless or sweater vests, are a stylish twist on the classic cardigan design. These cardigans lack sleeves, creating a vest-like appearance. They are typically worn over tops, blouses, or dresses and provide a layer of warmth without covering the arms.

Vest-style cardigans come in various lengths and materials, allowing for different styling options. They can be worn as a standalone piece or layered over other clothing items. These cardigans are versatile additions to your wardrobe, offering a trendy way to stay cozy while showcasing your style.

Zipped Cardigans

Zipped cardigans offer a modern twist on the traditional button-down design. Instead of buttons, these cardigans feature a zipper closure along the front. Zip adds a touch of contemporary flair to the classic cardigan style.

These cardigans come in various fabrics, colors, and patterns, catering to different tastes and preferences. The zipper closure provides convenience and easy wear, making zipped cardigans a practical choice for busy days. 

They can be dressed up or down, making them versatile additions to any wardrobe. Whether heading to the office or enjoying a casual outing, zipped cardigans offer style and functionality.

Wrap Cardigans

The wrap design allows for easy adjustability, making these cardigans suitable for various body types. They can be worn over dresses, tops, or even as an extra layer during chilly weather.

Wrap cardigans come in different lengths, materials, and patterns, catering to other fashion preferences. Elevate your everyday style or infuse a hint of sophistication into a special event – wrap cardigans are stylish and flexible layering choices that seamlessly adapt to any setting.

Cropped Cardigans

Cropped cardigans are trendy and shorter versions of the classic cardigan. These cardigans typically end above the waist or midriff, creating a chic and youthful look. They are often worn over dresses, tops, or blouses, adding a touch of flair and warmth without overwhelming the outfit.

Cropped cardigans come in various fabrics, colors, and designs, catering to different fashion preferences. They are versatile and can be dressed up or down, making them perfect for multiple occasions.

Draped Cardigans

Draped cardigans are a graceful variation of traditional cardigans. These cardigans feature an open-front design that creates a flowing and cascading effect, resembling the drape of the fabric. The result is an elegant, relaxed look that adds a touch of sophistication to any outfit.

These cardigans come in various lengths and materials, offering a range of styling options. They can be worn over dresses, tops, or jeans for a versatile ensemble. Draped cardigans are perfect for achieving a polished yet comfortable appearance.

Fabrics for Crafting Cardigans

Cardigans come in various materials, each offering a distinct feel and look. Common choices include:


Wool cardigans are known for their warmth and coziness and are perfect for chilly weather. They provide excellent insulation and come in various weights, from lightweight Merino to chunkier options.


Cotton cardigans offer breathability and comfort, making them suitable for various seasons. They can be lightweight or slightly thicker, providing versatility in styling.


Blended fabrics, like wool-cotton or cotton-acrylic, combine the best of both worlds. These cardigans often have enhanced durability and a balanced mix of warmth and comfort.


Synthetic materials like acrylic and polyester offer affordability and easy care. They can mimic the texture of natural fibers while providing a more comprehensive range of colors and patterns.


For a luxurious touch, cashmere cardigans are exceptionally soft and warm. However, they require delicate care due to their fragile nature.


Many cardigans are made using various knitting techniques, which can result in different textures, patterns, and levels of warmth.

Different Types of Knits

Knitting techniques give rise to various textures and patterns in garments like cardigans. Here are some common knit types:

Stockinette Stitch

This classic V-shaped pattern is smooth on one side and bumpy on the other, offering a sleek look.


Ribbed knits feature alternating vertical columns of knit and purl stitches. They are stretchy and often used for cuffs and hems.

Cable Stitch

Cable knits create interlocking patterns that resemble braids or ropes. They add visual interest and depth to cardigans.

Seed Stitch

Seed stitches form a bumpy texture by alternating knit and purl stitches within the same row. They create a subtle yet distinctive pattern.

Garter Stitch

Made by knitting every row, garter stitches produce a uniform texture. They’re often used for borders and edges.

Basketweave Stitch

Basketweave knits mimic the pattern of a woven basket, adding a unique and textured look to cardigans.

Lace Stitch

Lace knits feature delicate and intricate patterns with holes, creating an airy and feminine appearance.

Moss Stitch

Moss stitches combine knit and purl stitches to create a raised texture that resembles tiny bobbles.

Fisherman’s Rib

Similar to ribbing but bulkier, fisherman’s rib provides extra warmth and depth due to its thicker stitches.

Herringbone Stitch

Herringbone patterns create a diagonal, zigzag effect that adds visual interest to cardigans.

When choosing a cardigan, consider the climate, occasion, and personal comfort to find the perfect fabric that suits your needs and style preferences.

Caring for Your Cardigans: Making Them Last Longer

Proper care is essential to ensure your cardigans remain in top condition and continue to grace your wardrobe for seasons to come. Here are some tips to help you maintain the quality and longevity of your cardigans:

Read the Care Instructions

Each cardigan may have specific care guidelines. Be sure to read and follow the instructions on the label, which typically provide information about washing, drying, and ironing.

Hand Wash When Necessary

Opt for hand washing over machine washing, especially for delicate fabrics like wool or cashmere. Use a gentle detergent and cold water to prevent shrinking or damage.

Use a Laundry Bag

When machine washing, place your cardigan in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from friction and stretching caused by other garments.

Avoid Hanging Heavy Cardigans

Heavy cardigans can stretch out of shape if hung on a hanger. Instead, fold them and store them on shelves or in drawers.

Pilling Prevention

To prevent pilling (those small fabric balls), turn your cardigan inside out before washing. You can also use a fabric shaver to remove any pills that do form.

Air Dry

Whenever possible, let your cardigan air dry rather than using a dryer. This method helps preserve the fabric and prevent shrinking.


During off-seasons, store your cardigans in a cool, dry place. Consider using cedar blocks or lavender sachets to deter moths and keep them smelling fresh.

Rotate Wear

To prevent excessive wear on a single cardigan, rotate among different ones in your collection.

You can enjoy their comfort and style for years by giving your cardigans the care they deserve. Proper maintenance keeps them looking great and allows you to continue making a statement with your chosen fashion pieces.

FAQs About Different Types of Cardigans

What is a Cardigan, and How is it Different from a Sweater?

A cardigan is a sweater that opens at the front, usually with buttons or other fastenings. While cardigans and sweaters are knit garments designed for warmth, cardigans have an open show and can be quickly taken on and off, making them versatile for layering.

Can Men Wear Cardigans?

Absolutely! Cardigans are not limited by gender. A wide range of cardigan styles is tailored to men’s fashion, from classic designs to more contemporary options. They provide warmth and style for men’s outfits, just like for women.

What’s the Best Way to Style a Cardigan for a Formal Event?

Opt for a classic button-down cardigan in a refined fabric like wool or a blend for a formal event. Pair it with a dress shirt, trousers, and dress shoes for a polished look. Choose neutral colors for a timeless appearance or darker shades for a sophisticated touch.

Are Cardigans Suitable for Both Young Adults and Older Individuals?

Cardigans are versatile and can be styled to suit different age groups. Young adults can wear trendy oversized or chunky knit cardigans, while older individuals might prefer classic or longline styles for an elegant touch.

How do I Care for My Cardigans to Ensure their Longevity?

Follow the care instructions on the label, which often recommend gentle hand washing or using a delicate cycle in a laundry bag. Avoid hanging heavy cardigans to prevent stretching, and fold them to store. Taking proper care will help maintain their quality and appearance over time.

How Can I Make an Oversized Cardigan Look Put-Together?

When wearing an oversized cardigan, balance the look by pairing it with fitted bottoms such as skinny jeans or tailored pants. You can also cinch the cardigan at the waist with a belt to create some definition and structure.

Final Verdict

As we wrap up our exploration of cardigan styles, it’s clear that these versatile garments are true chameleons in the fashion world. From classic sophistication to cozy comfort, cardigans offer an array of choices to enhance your style.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cardigans. Each style offers its flair, catering to your mood and the occasion. Whether building a capsule wardrobe or experimenting with eclectic looks, cardigans are your canvas. 

So, venture into this world of choices, mix and match, and allow your style to unfold effortlessly. With cardigans in your repertoire, your fashion journey becomes an ever-evolving masterpiece.

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