Raise your hand if you’ve ever worn a cropped cardigan — maybe it was blue or pink? — over a lacy cami, and then tied the whole look together with a chunky belt around your waist. If this fashion scenario resonates with you, it’s probably because you wore it in the early aughts. If you’re like, I don’t get it, this is probably for the best. The thing is, I tend to associate cardigan outfits with my style from the 2000s, and I never want to return to that look. So I’ve been unfazed by not having this piece in my wardrobe for the last several years. Lately, however, as I’ve been seeing the button-front knit all over the Fall/Winter 2023 runways I’m craving the style for the first time in over a decade.
Miu Miu’s autumn collection offered slim, crewneck options styled with sheer skirts that felt fresh and youthful, and Molly Goddard paired her gray knit versions with bright yellow tulle bottoms. Loewe, on the other hand, offered a lengthy, cream-colored option with coordinating pants. It seems that cardigans in general have undergone a metamorphosis in recent years. Now they boast intricate embellishments and floral details and come in unexpected hues like lime green; various silhouettes are cut to highlight one’s waist or arms. So, just when I thought I was done with the style forever, it has snuck its way right back into my heart — and wardrobe.
Because I have no intention of reverting back to my former 2000s sense of fashion, I’ve rounded up several cooler ways to wear a cardigan for the transitional months ahead. Here are the looks that caught my eye and will perhaps catch yours too — maybe you’ll even find a renewed love for the piece just like I did.
When Neutrals Meet Color
The easiest way to make your plain-colored cardis feel alive for the new season is by styling them with colorful pieces you only wear occasionally. You know: the blue leather pants you bought on a whim because your favorite influencer wore them, but now they just sit in your closet (no? just me?), or the hot pink skirt that now feels too loud. Your neutral knit layer will help tone down these pieces as the supporting player to a statement outfit.
The beauty of a cropped cardigan is that you can wear it over a tank, T-shirt, or with simply nothing underneath at all. We’re taking cues from J.Crew’s Creative Director Olympia Gayot and using this piece as a cover-up for our more summery dresses, thereby taking the look into fall territory. You can keep the outfit feeling preppy with loafers and socks, but we suggest opting for a chunky platform to counterbalance the lightness of a slip.
Make It Sporty
To add a hint of sportiness to any look, just throw on a baseball cap. The no-fuss accessory looks slightly out of place when styled with items like a more fitted cardigan or tailored blazer, which makes your overall look feel cooler — think wrong shoe theory but with a hat.
Fashion girls with bolder personalities won’t settle for a run-of-the-mill gray cardigan. Instead, they will reach for a multi-hued chunky option like one you’d find at a vintage shop, on Etsy, or commissioned from your grandmother who loves to knit. You can pick one color to work throughout your outfit, or drench yourself in all the shades if you dare.
We’ll be honest here: It’s difficult to find a cardigan, pants, and shoes all in the same color. But we managed to track down several pieces that will help you nail the monochromatic green look effortlessly. The colors don’t have to be exact, but close enough in order to paint a visually pleasing picture — lime green girl for fall, anyone?
Cardigans without buttons give off a sleeker look, but when the front keeps flapping open with every little breeze, it can be annoying. Secure the fabric in place with a skinny belt of your choice in any shade and style over a top and pants. Alternatively, a jumpsuit, like the one on Rouje founder Jeanne Damas above, offers that one-and-done look for when you want a more laid-back outfit. Slip into ballet flats and you’re ready to walk the pup (or take the kids out for ice cream).