Home Style A Man’s Guide to Cardigans

A Man’s Guide to Cardigans

by nick

The men’s cardigan has been in and out of fashion over the years. The open fronted sweater was popularized and named after the 7th Earl of Cardigan in the mid-19th Century. However, not so long ago, the word cardigan was either associated with old people or regarded as something only women wear. Thankfully, the cardigan has made a comeback and is now a fashionable piece of clothing being donned by all well-dressed men.

If you’re a man who’s never worn a cardigan or you’re just looking for an addition to your wardrobe; here’s how you can start the forthcoming winter months in style.

Why You Should Wear a Cardigan

The cardigan opens down the front meaning it can be worn open or closed. When open it acts a lot like a jacket in the way it outlines your torso but provides a softer, casual shape. When closed the cardigan works like a normal sweater would. You can wear it over a dress shirt, under a jacket, with jeans or with dress trousers, etc.

Combining the two ways of wearing it the cardigan can be  an outer layer, a jacket, a type of waistcoat or the bottom layer under a coat. I think you’ll agree, that’s a lot of use from one piece of clothing.

Not only that, the cardigan is very flexible when it comes to the weather. It’s what some people refer to as “three season” wear – it’s useful all year round apart from the hot summer months.

On cooler days it can be an easily removable outer layer. When it gets a bit nippy the cardigan can layer with shirts, vest, jackets and overcoats to provide a thick layer of insulation.

Finding a Quality Cardigan

Whether you’re thinking about buying your first cardigan or your tenth you need to focus of the following four things; fit, construction, and flexibility.


A quality cardigan for men should have a taper that flatters our bodies. It should be like a well-tailored suit jacket but not as sharp. Narrowest under the rib cage, widening back out down by the hips, giving your chest a little bit of a tapered shape.

The shoulder seams should finish on the top of your shoulder. If the seams are coming further down your arm then the cardigan is too big. The bottom hem should overlay your waistline but not your trouser/jean pockets. When buttoned up, it should be tight enough that you don’t get sagging material in front of your body, especially when you lean forward.

You’ll find that cardigans are available in a variety of styles with some designed to fit baggy, loose or tight. Make sure you read the label so that you don’t end up upsizing to an XL cardigan that’s meant to be a tightly fitted style.


Feel the wool and think about how it’ll feel against your skin. Anything that feels too itchy will be uncomfortable to wear without a collard long sleeve shirt, reducing its changeability.

If the cardigan is loose at the seams or there’s round balls of wool forming when you rub the surface, then it’s poorly made.


You want to buy a cardigan that’s different to the clothes you already own and one that goes with most of your wardrobe selection. Dark colors such as navy grey and black are the most flexible but also the most common. Brighter colors are more eye-catching and express individuality but are less flexible.

Have a look in your wardrobe and figure out what it needs – flexible pieces to build off of or brightly coloured items to go with the clothes you already own.

Styles of Cardigan

There are various styles of cardigans avaliable which we will now discuss.

Shawl Collar Cardigan


The shawl collar cardigan is very fashionable right now. This style of cardigan features a distinct turned down collar as seen in the picture above. Depending on the design, the collar can reach as high as your collar bone or drop down has far as your waist line.

They usually come as heavy knit cardigans and are often used as the outer layer in most outfits.

Shawl collar cardigans are best worn with a shirt as the style compliments the shirt collar, allowing it to rest neatly above or below it.

Double Breasted Cardigan


Similar to the shawl collar, the double breasted cardigan also comes in a variet of styles. The style relies massively on the positioning of the buttons. Lower placed buttons reveal more inner layers and can be used to reveal a shirt or tie. Higher placed buttons cover more of the body and are usually thicker knits as they’re meant to be worn as an outer layer rather than a thinner cardigan

Heavy Knit Cardigan


Heavy knits are very trendy right now. They add a lot of bulk and they’re almost always made from thicker, heavier fabrics such as wool. They are a good way to add weight and texture to your look, however if you’re already on the chunky side, I’d advise you to avoid the heavy knit all together.

Patterned Cardigans


The patterned cardigan allows you to express your individuality.  Most of the time, cardigans are used as layered pieces, normally kept simple to bring out another item of clothing, like a tie for example.

But patterned cardigans offer us an alternative.  If they’re made of lightweight material, then the colors and patterns can help bring out your outfit with the various colors and patterns.

If they’re made of thicker material and used as an outer layer, then they can be fashioned as a statement piece. Remember, if you wear a patterned cardigan its best that the other layers you wear are kept as simple as possible. Too many graphics and patterns will clash and spoil your overall look.

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