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9 Different Types of Cardigans (and Ways to Wear Them)

Cardigans—the long-lasting wardrobe staple that never goes out of style. Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, cardigans come in a variety of changing colors, textures, lengths, and styles. From cropped hems to grandpas sweaters, there’s something for everyone.

So, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect cardigan to complete your outfit, here’s your go-to guide to explore the different types of cardigans and pick the one that’s right for you. With simple tips and tricks, you’ll learn how to identify the different types of cardigans, dress them up or down, and maximize your wardrobe to make every look uniquely yours.

woman looking at different types of cardigans

What is a cardigan or cardigan sweater?

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. Many modern cardigans don’t have buttons and hang open by design. A cardigan can be a short-sleeved design or it can have long sleeves.

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 fabrics. All lengths of cardigans are popular now as well.

There are different types of cardigans out there for every fashion sense. A cardigan can add just the right touch to your outfit whether you’re going for a casual look or dressing up for the night. There are a variety of different cardigans available. Most importanly, they can be worn by almost any body type.

Here are 9 types of cardigans.


Want an additional layer of warmth to your outfits? Then a button-up waist-length cardigan is the most suitable option for you. Button-up waist length is one type of cardigan that gives you a cozy as well as stylish look. It is a type of cardigan that has buttons down the front and its length falls up to the waist or maybe a little above or below it.

Button up waist length cardigans can be worn in many different ways depending upon your style or occasion. For a casual look, you can pair your button-up waist-length cardigan with a neutral-colored shirt tucked in denim shorts or jeans with sneakers.

button up cardigan with pencil skirt for workPin

If you want to wear your button-up waist cardigan somewhere more formal then you can try pairing up your cardigan with a high-waisted pencil skirt for a perfect look for work. Or try a cardigan with trousers and a nice pair of heels for a complete chic look.

button up cardigan with trousers for workPin


One of the most functional and one of my all-time favorite cardigans is the V-neck button-up cropped cardigan. It is a particular style of cardigan with a V-shaped neck, and the word cropped indicates that it will fall at or just above your waist.

There are so many ways to style your V-neck button-up cropped cardigan. Wear it to work with a floral skirt and taupe ankle boots in the fall. Depending on the color of your skirt you can wear it with any color of boots.

types of cardigans vneck cropped cardiganPin

For a more casual look, wear denim jeans or maybe wide-leg jeans followed by sneakers for a comfortable and stylish look. This cropped cardigan can be worn with a variety of different outfits, mostly depending on your style.

v-neck cropped cardigan with jeansPin

For a more edgy look, pair a V-neck cropped cardigan with faux leather pants.

V-neck cardigan with leather pantsPin


Looking for a cardigan that you can wear all year round? You are in a right place. You can try wearing an open cardigan to create an elegant look of your choice. An open cardigan is a type of cardigan that is buttonless and is worn open at the front.

Open cardigans can be worn in a variety of settings. 

types of cardigans open cardiganPin

One of the most popular ways to wear an open cardigan is over a black top tucked into skinny jeans with ankle boots or heels for a complete and classy look. If you want to look fancy, pair an open cardigan with skinny dresses, long boots, and a small hanging clutch.

Wear an open cardigan to work in an office setting.

open cardigan for workPin

Wear an open cardigan in a casual setting.

open cardigan for workPin


One of the best types of cardigans in your wardrobe will be long cardigans. The long cardigan can make a stunning addition to any outfit. The long cardigan is one of the types of cardigan without any buttons that are designed to be longer than a typical cardigan and can extend below the hips or down to the knees.

You can create a professional look with a long cardigan by wearing it with a skirt or a dress with ankle boots. For get-togethers and night-outs long cardigans can perfectly go with leggings and a cropped top. Further, you can wear a long cardigan with a white t-shirt tucked into jeans with sneakers.

long cardigan with jeansPin


Are you ready to embrace comfort and style? Okay then let’s start with the ultimate pure comfort: the boyfriend cardigan. The boyfriend cardigan is oversized, slouchy, and oh-so-comfortable. It is the cardigan that leaves you feeling like you are wrapped in a warm hug.

You can style a boyfriend cardigan by wearing it with a tshirt and straight leg jeans. It’s one of the most popular looks people are creating for casual wear.

types of cardigans boyfriend cardiganPin

You can elevate the look of a boyfriend cardigan with a blouse and boots.

boyfriend cardigan with plaid blousePin

Boyfriend cardigans are great for casual wear but you can also create a professional look by wearing a black boyfriend cardigan that goes with a button-up shirt and jeans followed by black ballet flats.


Want to try cardigans in moderate temperatures? Then try out the cardigan vest. Cardigan vests are a super comfy type of cardigan that is sleeveless so you might not feel cold or hot in those in-between seasons when the weather can’t make up its mind.

The coolest thing about a cardigan vest is that it can be worn in several different ways. You can simply try it with a t-shirt or dress it up with a flannel shirt with ankle boots or earthy-toned heels for fancy or formal occasions.

Here a button up cardigan vest is worn over a plaid flannel dress for a fall look.

cardigan vest outfitPin


At present, the draped cardigan is not at the top of the trendy list. It is a typical type of hanging cardigan but relatively more looser and flexible than a typical cardigan. Wear a draped cardigan over slimmer fitting pieces as the drape typically creates some extra volume.

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types of cardigans wrap cardiganPin

You may see some draped cardigans labeled as wrap cardigans but a true wrap cardigan functions much like a wrap top. It’s an open sweater that crosses over to opposite sides of the body and ties on one side. Wear it with a skirt and tall boots for a dressy look.


types of cardigans belted cardiganPin

A belted cardigan comes with a matching knit belt that ties at the waist. Most fall to mid thigh in length or can be longer. Wear them with jeans, leggings or over fitted dresses. 

Cardigans are a timeless wardrobe staple. Not only are they comfortable and stylish, but they are versatile too. Dress them up or down for casual or formal occasions. From shawl-collar to patchwork to sleeveless, there’s a cardigan style out there for everyone. With such an abundance of styles, colors, and fabrics, cardigans are a must-have in every closet.

So go ahead: explore, try something new, and discover which cardigan works best for you. After all, “true style is about being comfortable in what you wear,” as Karl Lagerfeld said. As long as you feel good in what you choose, you look great.

Try out these 9 types of cardigans and level up your cardigan game!