Fashion A to Z: C for Cardigans

This edition of Fashion A to Z is all about cardigans. Cardigans make great layering pieces for fall.

What is a cardigan?

It’s a knitted garment with an open top. It’s a sweater but an open one that fastens with buttons or zippers, as opposed to a solid pullover sweater. More modern cardigans don’t have buttons and hang open by design.

It was supposedly named after James Brunenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan and commander of the British forces during the Crimean War. It’s first appearance in the knitting world was in 1868. The cardigan was modeled after a waistcoat of knitted wool worn by British army officers. Notice a trend here? Much of our modern fashion originated with the men.

By the 1920’s both men and women wore cardigans. Modern cardigans are made of all sorts of materials- cashmere, cotton, wool, polyester and knit sweatshirt materials. All lengths of cardigans are popular now as well.

3 Types of Cardigans and How to Wear Them

1- Button up waist length- This is the most traditional cardigan and works best for office and professional attire. These look great with skirts and dresses, but can also be worn with pants and the right choice of top. Don’t wear them with a long top- the different lengths will look odd.

cardigans for work, waist length button up cardigans, office outfit
cardigan work outfit
pencil skirt work outfit
full skirt with waist length cardigan

2- Open/drape cardigans- These are best worn with fitted tops and bottoms. The flow and drape can add bulk, so you don’t want to add extra bulk by pairing them with other loose, flowy clothing.

drapey cardigans office outfit
flowy cardigan work wear

3- Long cardigans – The longer length does not work well with full dresses and skirts, but feel free to pair them with fitted dresses and skirts as long as they are about the same length or just a little shorter than your dress. Long cardigans hug and skim the body, so they work well with skinny jeans and fitted tees and tanks too. You can also wear a longer cardigan as part of you work wear if it’s a more fitted and smooth cardigan. Looser, more casual types should be worn with casual outfits.

Long cardigans can be anywhere from past the hips to a duster length that falls to the ankles. Mind where the length hits you. As with tops and jackets, if it hits at the widest part of your hips, it’s going to accent that part of the body and make it appear larger. As a petite, I avoid cardigans that fall past my knees. I like for them to fall between the hips and knees.

long cardigans for the office
long cardigans casual wear
fall outfits

Shop cardigans:

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