What to wear in these temperamental temperatures? A fashion-forward cardigan, of course.
We brought you mid-season jackets for the spring-summer weather earlier this month. Sadly the changeable weather is hanging around, so we – the Stylist fashion team – put our heads together and today we bring you the best cardigans to throw over any outfit. Writer Grace Cook explains.
Some see frump, I see fashion. For I love cardigans. Always have, always will. Because there’s no outfit the humble cardigan can’t fix. Wearing a loose-cut floaty midi dress that a proper jacket would overpower? Throw on a cardi. Need an extra layer for that Lake Como wedding, for after the sun sets? A fine-knit cropped cardi is the answer. Or what about those days when the weather just can’t decide what it’s doing? Simple: t-shirt and a cardi, and a trench.
My favourite piece in my wardrobe is a Comme des Garcons navy cardigan – a simple button-up with bracelet length sleeves. But it’s far from boring — this sweater also has spliced sides, with navy frills that give it movement and mean I can wear loose-cut tops, or T-shirts, underneath it without it looking sloppy or feeling uncomfortable. It wasn’t cheap, but cost per wear? Bargain bin.
Like my Comme cardigan, the humble knitted button-up has been given a fashion-forward spin. Designers like Marques’Almeida, Gucci and Ganni are all offering versions — some printed, some plain. Some oversized, some neat-fitting. The Row do a maxi version, while Weekend MaxMara offered a cropped one. You see, the very best thing about cardigans is there really is a version for everyone.
In the depths of winter, a chunky knit woollen cardigan is a failsafe and chic — a sartorial blanket, you could say. The neutral cardi is additionally a failsafe choice for mid-season months, when stylised lightweight jackets mean you would need a dozen different ones to complement the various outfits in your wardrobe.
And in the British summer, when there’s still a breeze in the air and the weather is changeable (like now — hello, it’s supposed to be June?), a lightweight cardi in a fine gauge knit is thin enough to not overwhelm summer outfits, but slim enough to keep in a tote bag and throw on as and when needed.
And contrary to popular belief, they’re really easy to wear. Here, Stylist has decoded the best cardigans to buy now — and how to wear them.
The White Trouser Cardi
White trousers are a perennial warm weather style. But trying to find a piece of outerwear that matches them in the simplicity and chic stakes is difficult.
Enter the cardigan: this fine-gauge light khaki knit from Zara is just the ticket — it’s sheer enough to not overwhelm light coloured outfits, and is cut to a super slouchy and sophisticated silhouette. Best accessorised with barely-there sandals or mules — on days when it’s just chilly, not raining.
Zara long button-up cardigan, £39.99
The Wedding Cardi
What to throw over an elegant dress for a wedding? A neutral — read, invisible — cardigan is a failsafe choice.
This & Other Stories version is ideal, with a ribbed band that won’t hide dresses that cinch at the waist, and a cropped length that won’t distract from the silhouette of the dress. And best of all, it’s not so ‘wedding-y’ you can’t throw it on with your jeans afterwards.
& Other Stories cropped cardigan, £65
The Statement Making Cardigan
Who says cardigans have to be wallflowers? This Marques’Almeida one proves otherwise. Knitted from a Crayola yellow wool and finished with plumes of ostrich feathers, this cardi is the perfect choice to throw on when you want to make a statement with minimal effort.
Wear with jeans or trousers, or over loose-cut shirt dresses in summer. For those colour-shy, it also comes in a buttery cream.
Marques’Almeida ostrich-trimmed cardigan, £365
The Everyday Cardigan
This cardi is the equivalent of the Instagram money shot. Crafted from a mid-weight wool that looks super chunky but is surprisingly lightweight, this is the perfect cut of cardigan to wear with jeans — hitting just below the bum, with a loose silhouette that exudes a laid-back mood, while the knitted pockets offer a boyish spin. Pair with jeans and sneakers, or backless loafers.
And, like all good cardigans, this one too comes in cream.
& Other Stories oversize cardigan, £69
The Evening cardigan
Off somewhere formal? You’ll need a cardi-dress then. This Zara number is so Parisian and chic, it gives off serious Coco Chanel vibes. Crafted from a structured knit with statement trim and buttons, this oversized cardigan is great worn with flippy mini skirts, or for dressing up jeans or leather trousers.
Wear with shirts, roll necks and T-Shirts – this is your one-stop-shop for an evening knit.
Zara long cardigan with pearl buttons, £49.99
The Vacation Cardi
Need an extra layer to throw in your vacation suitcase? Look no further than this Zara number, which is a cardigan, but doesn’t look like one. This lightweight knitted jacquard jacket has no buttons, but a string tie at the neckline instead, and a cute pom pom trimming that maintains that relaxed holiday vibe.
Covered in intricate beading, this cardi is ideal worn with cut-off denim shorts during the day, or with linen trousers and sandals at nighttime.
Zara beaded jacquard cardigan, £79.99
The Trendy Cardi
Going to a festival, or simply want something to jazz up the gram? This MSGM cardigan ticks all the trend boxes this summer.
Covered in logos and graphic fonts, this patch-worked cardigan has a colour palette that feels decidedly vintage, with baby pinks mixing with kelly greens and bright blues. Crafted in Italy, this cardigan-jacket is ideal worn with Hunter boots at festivals this summer, or with sneakers for extroverted city days.
MSGM logo-intarsia cardigan, £525
Main image: Zara