One fall/winter fashion essential item men seem to be hesitant toward is the cardigan. But they shouldn’t be. From layering over a tee to updating a basic suit or pairing with a turtleneck, it’s a transitional dressing dream because of its multi-functional use, the cardigan can be worn in so many different ways. The best cardi investments remain neutral and enhance whatever else it is you are wearing, while others become the statement centerpiece of any fit.
Shall we start with the basics of what a cardigan actually is? It’s a shrug-like sweater, usually with a loose-fitting V-neck that opens at the front. If you are picturing a big, bulky, chunky fisherman’s knit that your grandpa wears from a discount retailer, you aren’t necessarily wrong. But it can be so much more. Cardigans come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and weights. Chunky knits are a bit more difficult to pull off but are super cool when you do it right. Thinner style cardigans (there’s nothing like cashmere) should be a building block in your closet to mix and match with your entire wardrobe.
File these 10 cardigans ahead under items to consider this season. These sweaters (from some of the best men’s clothing brands) will level up your style game, making you one dignified dresser. And don’t worry, with each select we provide insight on how to wear it, so you no longer have to be afraid. The takeaway: Layering is your friend.
Allbirds Men’s Wool Cardi
Allbirds, the sustainable shoe brand worn by some of America’s most influential men (Barrack Obama among them), recently branched out into athleisure, and the results are spectacular. Take note of this laidback cardi, which features a relaxed fit, and — keeping in line with the brand’s eco-friendly roots — is made with sustainable materials.
Goodthreads Soft Cotton Shawl Cardigan
One of Amazon’s fashion brands, Goodthreads makes some relatively affordable menswear that’s not short on style. This shawl cardigan is made with 100% cotton, which is perfect to throw on during your video conference calls.
How To Wear: With a collared shirt, preferably with patterns.
Gioberti Knitted Full Zip Cardigan Sweater
Swapping out buttons for zippers make for an easier closure with this knitted cardigan. Plus the flannel lining makes for a surprisingly cool finish.
How To Wear: With the most comfortable undershirt you have, and zip your cardigan all the way up for an ultra-cozy nine-to-five fit.
Amazon Essentials Cardigan
Think of this as a modern take on the classic Mr. Rogers’ cardi. Made with 100% cotton and available in myriad colorways, you’ll never have trouble finding an ensemble to go with this versatile sweater.
How To Wear: Keep it basic with a crew-neck Tee and your favorite selvedge jeans.
Liverpool Knit Cardigan
Liverpool, the Los Angeles-based denim brand, makes some incredibly comfortable lounge pants, but their cardigans deserve a shout-out as well. This one features a shawl collar for a more formal silhouette.
How To Wear: Whether you throw on a shirt or your favorite Tee, this cardigan will help elevate your look to business casual-appropriate.
Club Monaco Cashmere Cardigan
Believe me when I tell you a cashmere cardigan will change your life. This one from Club Monaco isn’t too thin or too thick and it is so heavenly soft. Once you wear it once you won’t ever want to take it off.
How To Wear: Over a turtleneck, plain tee, jeans, and crisp white sneakers.
J.Crew Wallace & Barnes Cable Knit Shawl-Collar Cardigan
This is the type of chunky knit we talked about that is a little harder to pull off. But don’t run away yet! You absolutely can. Remember, layering is your friend. The trick is to play with different weights and textures among your layers to make it interesting. This includes your pants.
How To Wear: A tee shirt or chambray shirt (you can layer both). Make a chunky knit look less dad-like by pairing it with cool joggers and swaggy sneakers.
Fred Perry Tipped Sleeve Cardigan
Channel your inner Brit with this prep-school inspired cardigan from Fred Perry. The embroidered contrast logo acts as a status symbol while the stripes read varsity chic.
How To Wear: With a plain black tee underneath nothing more. Since the stripes on the sleeves are the statement, you should keep it monochromatic on top. Pair with trousers in black or khaki or dark jeans and plain white kicks.
Schott NYC Wool Blend Zip Cardigan
Not all cardigans have buttons. This modern take on the classic cardi is utilitarian and can double as your topper or jacket. The zip closure is fresh and cool.
How To Wear: With a plain white tee (or any tee for that matter) and black jeans.
Inverallan 6A Shawl Cardigan
This wouldn’t be a sweater article without Inverallan. This is the ultimate cable knit, 100% wool, heavy-duty keepsake sweater. It’s an icon to Celtic countries and holds up warmly in the coldest temperatures.
How To Wear: Over a turtleneck for extra warmth or a tee shirt for extra breeze. Pair with cropped chinos and casual sneakers.
Stussy Striped Knit Cardigan
A striped cardigan is considered a neutral with interest. The fine lines here add a cool edge to a traditional preppy garment.
How To Wear: Pair with a graphic tee shirt, don’t be afraid to mix prints.
Snow Peak Flexible Insulated Cardigan
Some will call this a jacket, but technically it is still considered a cardigan because of the fit and silhouette. It’s dubbed as the most functional item on this list because of its insulation and water-resistant features. Plus, it’s super lightweight making it perfect for wrinkle-free packing. This piece is truly worthy of your investment.
How To Wear: Wear this with anything and everything, just not by itself. Olive green is considered a neutral these days. Even if you think it won’t match, it probably does.
Drôle De Monsieur Patch Pocket Cardigan
This vintage baseball-inspired sweater will feel one of a kind. It’s the perfect marriage of streetwear cool and sophisticated class.
How To Wear: With cropped trousers, a graphic tee and high top sneakers.
Needles Checked Intarsia Wool Cardigan
Checks are trending and this monochromatic version reads streetwear cool over varsity prep. It’s definitely a statement piece but it’s made from 100% high-quality wool to keep you warm all winter long.
How To Wear: Over a black tee or polo shirt and paired with cool trousers or stovepipe denim
Suit Supply Grey Cardigan
This fitted cardigan gives shape to any relaxed-fitting dress shirt. You can file this under the third to create a three-piece suit. It definitely makes for a more casual take on formal wear but comes off as polished with an unexpected twist to a basic.
How To Wear: Remember layers? They should always come in a variety of texture, weight, and dimensions. This type of fitted, thin style cardigan should not be paired with a plain tee, but with a dress shirt with interest and under a suit jacket. Pro tip: Leave the bottom few buttons undone for the “loosened tie” vibe.
Untuckit Cardigan Sweater
Just like their reliable business shirts, Untuckit’s cardigan sweater features the same no-frills, get-the-job-done design so you’ll be the best-dressed guy at the office.
How To Wear: We suggest going for a plaid pattern undershirt to make your business attire pop.
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