How to Style a Cardigan in an Elevated Way

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There are many pieces that you could consider as wardrobe staples, and a cardigan certainly makes that list. When I think about clothing that provides me with the most bang for my buck, a cardigan will always come to mind. They’re versatile, can be worn throughout different seasons, they come in a variety of styles, and perhaps most importantly, they’re comfortable.

Cardigans are ideal to wear with an outfit because they serve as a chic and practical layer—especially when dressing for transitional weather. While they’re smart to have on hand throughout the entirety of the year, I find that I reach for them most often in the fall and spring (aka when the weather is shifting.)

While it might seem obvious to some, figuring out how to style a cardigan with different pieces in your closet can actually be a challenge. Sure, you can quickly throw one on as you head out the door, but putting together a more thoughtful look takes a little more effort.

The key to pulling off a stylish cardigan outfit is to strike the balance between the laid-back and cozy look a cardigan provides with more elevated pieces. To give you some inspo, I’m sharing a handful of cardigan outfit ideas that suit every occasion and vibe.

How to Style a Cardigan

Watch Here: How to Style a Cardigan for Transitioning Weather

Get dressy with it.

If you feel like you can’t dress up a cardigan, think again. It’s actually fairly simple to give this piece a more polished look by just adding some other staples. For example, you could wear a pair of jeans with a blouse or off-the-shoulder top, then slip into some high heels and layer with a cardigan. The result? A date night-ready look that’s as timeless as it is chic.

Another way to dress up a cardigan outfit is by adding accessories, like jewelry, a headband, or a statement-worthy handbag. This gives you the opportunity to showcase your personality—and to give the same basic cardigan new life over and over again!

Go the casual route.

In the mood for something more relaxed? I love a laid-back cardigan look. During busy days full of errands or appointments, there’s nothing cozier to wear than some leggings, a white t-shirt, and a cardigan.

This outfit is ideal for transitional weather because you can layer with a cardigan during the cool mornings and evenings and simply take it off during peak daytime temperatures—a win-win.

Wear it with layers.

Speaking of layers, another fool-proof way to wear a cardigan is to use it in place of a jacket, coat, or puffer vest. Each cardigan has a slightly different weight to it, and depending on the material it’s made with, will offer you varying levels of warmth.

If you want something lightweight, go with a cotton cardigan, whereas wool would provide you with something more toasty.

During the spring in particular, it tends to be quite chilly in the mornings and then heats up a bit throughout the day. That’s where layering with a cardigan comes into play—it’s a simple concept but somehow gets forgotten.

Throw it over your shoulders.

For an ultra cool-girl vibe, throw a cardigan over your shoulders. You could also tie it if it’s not staying in place. This is an old trick in the book, yet it provides such a sophisticated and glamorous feel. Not to mention, it’s another practical way to have an extra layer on hand.

Cardigan Outfit Ideas

Cardigan, Jeans, and Heels

If I were heading out for dinner and drinks with my friends, this is the outfit I’d reach for. Not only is this look perfect for the spring season, but it also is easy to recreate with pieces you likely have in your closet.

Any top would do, but I personally love this patterned puff sleeve find. Style it with your favorite pair of jeans and some heels (this is the gold pair I’m wearing) and you’ll be ready to go.

Oh, and don’t underestimate the impact that small details can make, like adding a belt or some fun bangles. Additionally, you could add a pop of unexpected color with a purse.

cardigan outfit with jeans, heels, and a cropped top

Cardigan and Denim Shorts

I plan on wearing this for many of my spring and summer outings. It’s comfortable yet looks so put together and unique. You might not think to pair your cardigan with denim shorts, but it’s an easy way to dress for changing weather.

To keep things classic, I’d wear a basic white tank top, then add a neutral pair of heels. This would be adorable to wear to brunch or even to a special (yet casual) event.

I love that I can drape this cardigan on rather than wear it normally—it gives this outfit such a feminine feel! To replicate the look, just buy an oversized cardigan. The one I’m wearing is from Jenni Kayne but this Amazon find is such a great dupe (and it’s under $20, which you really can’t beat!) Just be sure to size up.

Also, you could swap out the heels for a pair of sandals if you want to look more casual (I’m eyeing this pair!)

cardigan outfit idea with denim shorts, white tank top, and heels

Cardigan, Athleisure, and Sneakers

On those days when you don’t really want to get dressed, turn to this outfit idea. There’s really nothing more comfortable to wear than this, but it’s still socially acceptable to flaunt in public.

Start with a soft and stretchy onesie, like this one from Alo, then add your cardigan and some white sneakers. If a onesie isn’t really your thing, a tennis skirt, leggings, or even a loungewear set would create a similar look.

Cardigan outfit idea with athleure, white sneakers, and a baseball hat

Cardigan and Cargo Pants

Cargo pants styled with a cardigan creates the ultimate “dressed up but comfortable” outfit. The combo is rather unexpected yet it makes such a chic duo. It’s ideal for cool spring days, whether you’re headed out to run errands or you have a coffee meeting planned.

A perk to this outfit is that cargo pants go with so many other wardrobe essentials, so you’re sure to get plenty of wear from them. I love the brightness that white cargos bring, and when paired with a darker colored cardi, the end result is well-balanced and fun.

I opted for heels with this look, but sneakers or sandals would also work—wear whatever you’re in the mood for!

cardigan outfit idea with cargo pants and heels
Which cardigan outfit idea are you going to try out? Let me know in the comment section below!

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