Cardigans: History, Trends, Celebrity Styles, and More

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Cardigans: History, Trends, Celebrity Styles, and More

About Cardigans

Cardigans, while simple in design, are a wardrobe staple that’s appropriate for any season. And any girl can grab her favorite cardigan and style it to her own unique sense of style. Serving as a layering piece, a cardigan adds both utility and interest to an outfit – whether you’re dressing for work, the weekend, or date night. Learn more about the cardigan’s history, popular styles, celebrity trends, and more.
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Cardigans, while simple in design, are a wardrobe staple that’s appropriate for any season. And any girl can grab her favorite cardigan and style it to her own unique sense of style. Serving as a layering piece, a cardigan adds both utility and interest to an outfit – whether you’re dressing for work, the weekend, or date night. Learn more about the cardigan’s history, popular styles, celebrity trends, and more.

Cardigan History – From Military Origins to the Modern Cardigan Popularized by Coco Chanel

Named for a British Army Major General, James Brudenell, the 7thEarl of Cardigan, who took part in the Crimean war in the 1850s, the cardigan is modeled after the unique knitted wool waistcoat many British officers were supposed to have worn during that war. It was the legend of the Earl of Cardigan’s Charge of the Light Brigade during the war that led to the garments rise to fame. 

Later, Coco Chanel would bring us the cardigan we know today after getting frustrated with the way tight-necked men’s sweaters would mess up her hair. From the Roaring Twenties to the grunge period of the 1990s to modern day, the cardigan continues to be a wardrobe staple in every woman’s closet.

Cardigan Styles

Today, you can find cardigans in so many fun, modern styles. We’ve put together some of the hottest options that every girl needs. Different styles work for different body types, and they can be styled for many different occasions. 

Try a longline cardigan for a weekend brunch for the girls or add an elegant cropped cardigan to a work outfit and let it show off your waist. No matter your sense of style, you’ll find a cardigan that looks great on you.

Longline Cardigans

Longline cardigans are long – sometimes long enough to reach your knees or your ankles. They often feature large buttons in the front, and you can wear them open or simply button a single button for a fun look. These long cardigans make an excellent substitute for a long coat, and they’re much lighter. 

Wear them over skinny jeans, leggings, or even a body-hugging dress for a long, lean, and warm look.

Cropped Cardigans

Cropped cardigans usually reach to right above the waist, and they’re often made of thinner materials. Although some may feature buttons, they’re designed to be left open. While you should avoid wearing cropped cardigans with long tops, they do look great with high-waisted skirts, high-waisted pants, and fit-and-flare dresses. Keep the length of the cardigan above your waistband so it draws attention to your waist.

Wrap Cardigans

Wrap cardigans offer an elegant, sleek look because they don’t have any buttons that can add bulk around the waist or stomach. Their draped texture adds a feminine touch to an outfit. 

Wear it with a belt to make it look polished and chic or simply wear it open for a streamlined effect. Just make sure you keep layers beneath the cardigan lightweight to avoid adding bulk.

Oversized Cardigans 

Oversized cardigans are perfect for cooler weather. They’ll keep you comfortably cozy while still looking stylish. The trick to wearing an oversized cardigan is to make sure it’s the right shape and not too oversized. 

Look for an option that’s slightly oversized and that offers a nice shape, so you look polished instead of sloppy. Going with an oversized cardigan also means you’ll probably want to pair it up with a form-fitting outfit. This includes leggings, skinny jeans, slim skirts, and body-hugging dresses.

Shrug Cardigans

A shrug cardigan simply shrugs right onto your shoulders, and in many cases, they don’t have any buttons. Some are very short like a cropped cardigan, and they come in materials from cashmere to lace. Shrugs are the perfect choice if you want something small to add a little more coverage to a dress you’re wearing. They also look great worn dressed down and worn over jeans and a t-shirt.

Cardigan Details

Open Front Cardigans

Open front cardigans don’t have any buttons or hooks in the front, so they feature draping hemlines that are similar to wrap cardigans. They look perfect over tank tops, t-shirts, skinny jeans, and even slim A-line skirts.

Cardigans: History, Trends, Celebrity Styles, and More

Patch Pocket Cardigans

Many cardigans don’t have pockets, so patch pocket cardigans are a great option if you like having a place to stash cash, credit cards, or your keys. Toss on a longer one instead of a coat or throw on a casual one for a day of shopping or brunch with the girls. 

¾ Sleeve Cardigans

Just because the weather gets warmer doesn’t mean you have to give up your cardigans. With ¾ sleeve cardigans, you get a short sleeve that’s a bit cooler than the long sleeve options. It’s a great option if you don’t like long sleeves you’re going for a look that works better for spring and summer.

Zip Up Cardigans 

Zip up cardigans featured a zippered front, and they may include pockets as well. They make a great substitute for a jacket. While they look perfect with a pair of jeans, they’ll also go well with dressy trousers or a slim skirt for work.

Button Down Cardigans

Button down cardigans feature buttons down the front, and they’re often thought of as the “classic” cardigan. A button down cardigan in a neutral color is an exceptionally versatile staple to add to your closet, allowing you to create a variety of looks, ranging from elegant to casual.

Wool Cardigans

Wool cardigans are toasty warm choices for the colder months. Wool has come such a long way that you can find impressively tailored wool cardigans that are work-friendly or laid-back enough for a simple weekend shopping trip.

Cashmere Cardigans 

Cashmere, a non-itchy, soft type of wool that comes from cashmere or pashmina goats, is actually much softer and finer than sheep’s wool. The feather-light, silken fabric feels fantastic against your skin, making it an excellent choice if you’re looking for a cardigan that combines elegance and luxurious comfort. 

Cashmere cardigans are timeless classics that you can use to elevate any outfit in your closet. 

Latest Cardigan Trends

Cardigans are on-trend right now – they’ve been all over the recent runways (both Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter). One significant trend right now is the popcorn cardigan, with a textured, popcorn appearance that adds interest to any outfit. 

Embellished cardigans have also been seen on the runways with tulle, embroidery, and other over-the-top embellishments. Adding a belt to an open cardigan is stylish right now, too. 

Grab a belt in a similar hue as your cardigan and belt it in to define your waist. As the ‘90s styles become popular again, oversized cardigans are seeing a comeback right now, as well.

Top Cardigan Brands 

Whether you want to add cardigans in luxury brands to your wardrobe, or you’re currently interested in affordable brands that fit your clothing budget – we’ve got them both. Look for your favorite cardigan styles and then choose the brands you love.

Luxury Brands

Making a wardrobe investment and love your luxury brands? We’ve got cardigans in the hottest brands, including: 

Affordable Brands

Want great styles without spending a lot of money? Affordable brands offer great ways to try out new trends before making a big investment. Top affordable brands include: 

Brands You Should Know 

Mid-tier brands that every fashion girl should know include:

Cardigans in Pop Culture/Celebrities 

Although cardigans often get a bad rap for being all prim and proper, these preppy sweaters are actually versatile layering pieces loved by many celebrities. One fan of the cardigan is Amal Clooney, whose impeccable style is known across the world. She’s paired a short-sleeve, slim cut, black cardigan with tailored white trousers, giving it a modern, sophisticated look. 

Celebrities love pairing cardigans with dresses, too. From Taylor Swift to Zooey Deschanel, stars love wearing them with full skirted dresses or even pairing long textured cardigans with fitted mini-dresses. Models and actresses often pair them with flared jeans, simple neutral slacks, or mixing oversized cardigans with black skinnies. 

A Wardrobe Staple for Any Season 

If a cardigan only brings to mind the prim and proper Sandy Olsson (pre-makeover) in the movie Grease, it’s time to catch up with the latest, modern trends in cardigans. The versatility of these fun sweaters makes them a staple you’ll definitely want to add to your closet. 

From heavy longline cardigans for the colder months to light, cropped options that are perfect for wearing with a summer dress, there’s a cardigan for every season. Cardigans have been around for more than a century, and they’re going to be a popular fashion choice for years to come. 

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Join the most innovative fashion community and personalize your shopping experience!

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