Skip to content

Knit's Lit: Here's How To Style a Cardigan

Knit's Lit: Here's How To Style a Cardigan How do you solve a problem like a cardigan? This humble wardrobe piece received a brief turn in the celebrity fashion spotlight...

Knit's Lit: Here's How To Style a Cardigan

How do you solve a problem like a cardigan? This humble wardrobe piece received a brief turn in the celebrity fashion spotlight in 2019 after quietly sustaining the everyday fashion of the 2010s. Five years later, the cardigan is still as comfortable and practical as ever, but it can easily look dated. Here's how to style a cardigan in line with the latest trends.

Black Fishnet Layering Piece Layering Pieces Kate Hewko

How To Style a Cardigan in 3 Easy Steps

You may be tempted to jump straight into creating outfits, but when styling a tricky piece, it helps to break the process down into steps.

1. Pick the Right Cardigan

Starting with an interesting cardigan makes the styling process a hundred times easier. Select something a little different and trendy for a head start, such as:

  • Oversized
  • Cropped
  • Chunky, textural knit
  • Embellished
  • Distressed
  • Part of a matching set

Choosing a cardigan that stands out gives you more options when styling, but you can also make a plain cardigan interesting by adding jewelry and accessories.

2. Decide on an Aesthetic

Use your choice of cardigan to guide your hand when it comes to overall outfit aesthetics. Cardigans are versatile enough to suit a huge range of outfit themes and vibes, from preppy to punk.

3. Coordinate and Contrast

Now that you have both an interesting cardigan and an interesting vision, add pieces while keeping in mind how each one enhances the outfit. Every piece should either coordinate visually with the others, contrast them, or do both. For example, in a monochromatic look, each piece may be the same color, but with contrasting textures.

Hot Pink Oversized Knit Vest Vests Kate Hewko

What Do Cardigans Look Good With?

One surefire way to date your cardigan is pairing it with skinny jeans. Here are a few alternative choices to try.

Loose Pants

Trendy wide-legged pants are a great complement to comfy, slouchy cardigans. Any fabric will do, from tailored tweed to distressed denim. This is the perfect choice for wearing your favorite cardigan at the office.

Flowy Skirts

A romantic, flowy skirt solves the problem of how to style a cardigan by doubling down on the item's demure vibes. Light layers can also provide a contrast in weight and texture. Plus, this combo is outrageously comfortable.

Short Skirts

You can also go in the opposite direction. Contrast the librarian vibes of a cardigan with a miniskirt to form a thematically interesting base for your outfit.

How Do You Make a Cardigan Look Trendy?

Here's the hidden blessing of a cardigan: It's such a naturally sensible wardrobe piece that you can push the boundaries when styling. Here are four ideas to take a cardigan from conservative to cutting-edge, in order from least to most unhinged.

Choose a Bold Chunky Knit

A "chunky knit" means thick yarn with tons of texture or an interesting woven pattern. This can give a retro look to your outfit and add all-important texture. Contrast a chunky knit cardigan's texture with a subtle woven skirt or smooth wool trousers.

Use a Cardigan as Your Pop of Color

Brightly colored cardigans are as fun to collect as trading cards, and they can easily become the pop of color in an otherwise neutral outfit. Model Gigi Hadid matched her bright orange oversized cardigan exactly to her rolling luggage in a sleek airport ensemble. The rest of the look kept to blinding white and hints of brown for elegant cohesion.

Wear It Slouchy and Off the Shoulder

Another way to make the cardigan modern is to choose a slouchy cut and wear it off one or both shoulders, exposing a bra strap in the process. This ultra-casual look throws all the way back to the late 18th century, when deshabillé court dress was the ultimate way to show irreverent luxury. Turns out, it still is.

Choose a Crop Top Cardigan

Another simple and straightforward way to make your cardigan look different is to go with a cropped cut. Cropped cardigans are a nod to the current Y2K trend and can take the place of a crop top in any jeans-centric casual look. You can also wear a waist-length cardigan over a bandeau crop top for the same small-on-top silhouette.

Tie the Sleeves Around Your Shoulders Like You're Off to Polo

To level up a basic preppy cardigan, tie the sleeves around your shoulders like a cape. Complete the look with a pencil skirt or wide-legged slacks and add crisp white sneakers. This Hamptons-esque answer to how to style a cardigan is a reflection of laissez-faire attitude.

Shred It To Defeat Your Inner Librarian

Can a cardigan be punk? Absolutely, if you shred it and choose a decidedly non-pastel color scheme. This method of reinventing the cardigan prevents it from ever looking like library wear.

Contrast It With Bodycon or Sequins

There's no rule against wearing a comfy oversized cardigan on a big night out. Pick one with a strong detail such as a stripe or shawl collar or go with a big, textural knit. That way, the cardigan will stand up to the dress and the outfit will feel fashionably chaotic, yet balanced.

Wear an Oversized Cardigan as a Dress

Subvert the buttoned-up image of a cardigan by forgoing pants or a skirt altogether. An ultra-oversized cardigan that falls all the way to your thighs or knees can double as a risqué spring and summer dress.

For extra weight, coverage and style, layer your cardigan dress with an equally oversized button-up shirt dress. Complete the look with businesslike loafers to continue the theme.

Long Varsity Knit Cardigan Cardigans Kate Hewko

Still Wondering How To Style a Cardigan? Get Inspired With the Latest Fashion Finds

Learning how to style a cardigan is all about combining trendy ideas with style and wardrobe pieces you already have. Start with an interesting base cardigan, and then choose complementary and contrasting influences around your desired aesthetic. Or, you can always take one of these tricks and make it your own.

At Kate Hewko, we believe that everyone should have the chance to experiment with fun fashion, no matter their age or budget. Browse our new finds for fashion inspiration that won't break the bank.

CART (0)


Let’s add your new favorite clothing.
I dare you to look this good.

Select options