The cardigan is a timeless men’s fashion piece that is versatile and classy, giving guys the ability to style a range of outfits. As a must-have wardrobe item, the cardigan sweater can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. This knitwear can help guys pull off a semi-formal look with a suit for work or a casually chic style with a trendy shirt, chino pants and sneakers. When it comes to light jackets, cardigans come in many styles and colors but these knitted closet staples are always comfortable, warm and elegant.
Whether you want a chunky cardigan for a relaxed day around town or need a shawl collar to layer during the fall and winter, there are many ways to style a cardigan. Some men will pair a cardigan with a t-shirt and jeans for a casual look, while others may dress up this sweater with a button-up shirt and dress pants for a business casual outfit.
With so many different types, it can be a challenge knowing what to wear over, under and with your cardigan sweater for a cool and refined ensemble. To inspire you with outfit ideas, we’ve compiled a guide on how to wear a cardigan. From black to tan and long to chunky, explore these cardigan outfits for men to find cool styles you’ll love.
- 1 What Is A Cardigan?
- 2 Types of Cardigans
- 3 Men’s Cardigan Outfits
- 4 What To Wear with A Cardigan
- 5 What To Wear Under A Cardigan
- 6 How To Wear A Cardigan
What Is A Cardigan?
A cardigan is a type of knitted sweater that has an open front and can come with or without buttons. Cardigans are versatile and classy wardrobe essentials for men, offering an outer layer you can put on with style in the fall and winter. This men’s sweater can be comfortable and easy to wear for a casual look or dressed up with smart attire for a stylish outfit.
A closet staple since the 1920s, cardigans come in several different shapes, sizes and materials to fit every guy’s style. A black slim-fit cardigan made with a silk blend can be worn conservatively with a trendy shirt and grey trousers or dark utility joggers for a fashionable look. Long cardigan styles are casual streetwear attire, while sophisticated men who want a classy look may invest in a luxury cable-knit sweater to wear under a suit jacket or casually on top of a button-up shirt.
Timeless and trendy, guys can experiment with different cuts and designs. To get the perfect look you want, it’s important to pick the right cardigan for the occasion and style your knitwear properly with the right shirt, pants and shoes. To stand out with your fashion sense, you’ll want to experiment with the different styles of cardigans for men to create fresh outfits.
Types of Cardigans
Effortless and flattering, a long cardigan offers a loose and casual style that can extend down to your mid-thigh or all the way to your ankles. The longline cardigan might feature buttons or an internal loop-and-tie, but trendy men will typically wear this knitwear open. For a stylish contrast, pair a longer cardigan with fitted jeans and a slim-fit crew neck t-shirt or with a scoop neck cotton shirt for a cool look.
Guys can visually elongate themselves by wearing a dark monochrome base like black skinny jeans and a long cotton t-shirt under a brightly-colored longline cardigan. This relaxed outerwear comes in different weaves and lightweight fabrics, making it the most versatile cardigan. You can transition this comfortable piece from summer to fall and winter to spring with ease.
Shawl Collar Cardigan
A shawl cardigan is equipped with a thick stole collar that drapes around the back of the neck and inner shoulders, creating a cool built-in scarf. This collared sweater is usually made with thicker materials, providing warmth on cold winter days and a well-structured refinement to any outfit. You can wear this cardigan buttoned-up to add an elegant quality to jeans or khaki pants.
For a smart casual outfit that’s comfortable and dapper, guys should style an open shawl cardigan with trousers and a fitted black t-shirt. A cream-colored heavy-weave has a preppy vibe to it, while earth tones are countryside-classy, perfect with hunting boots, field watches, and oxford shirts.
The button-up cardigan is a popular style that will make your attire look more sophisticated and put-together. When dressed properly, this versatile piece can elevate your aesthetic. Guys should choose a simple, fitted cardigan to complement their body type. You can wear a stark black cardigan with jeans or chinos for a sleek and flattering outfit, while brighter colors can be playful and bold.
Under your sweater, you may want to wear a collared or buttoned shirt for a classy look. Adding a silk-cashmere blended cardigan to a well-tailored suit can give your outfit an approachable quality, while still maintaining the suit’s formal, powerful and masculine aesthetic. Modern men can experiment with different materials, blends and colors for the perfect finish.
Chunky Knit Cardigan
When you want to stay warm and still look casually stylish, you can’t go wrong with a chunky knit cardigan. Whether you’re hanging out with friends or going on a date, different knits can complement men’s outfits in different ways. Ribbed and fisherman-knit sweaters are classic styles that can be paired with trousers, chinos and jeans.
Modern and polished, a chunky marled cotton cardigan is the perfect addition to a streetwear-inspired look with a dressy t-shirt and fitted jeans. Cable-knit cardigans are always classy and fashionable with trendy pants and nice shoes, giving guys a natural look that represents success and elegance. For a smart style, make sure you get a knitted sweater in a neutral color like black, gray or navy blue.
As one of the most versatile color options, the black cardigan looks great with all types of outfits. Effortlessly chic and always on-point, the black cardigan can be dressed up or down with a fashionably sharp ensemble to create the right look. For an easy off-the-runway casual look, guys can wear a black long cardigan with skinny jeans and a shirt.
The shirt under can be white or colorful for extra contrast or blend more seamlessly into the sweater. For a dynamic combination, a thin fitted cardigan can add a layered dimension to your suit. With endless styling options, modern men should consider black cardigans a worthwhile closet addition.
While black means business, the navy blue cardigan offers a relaxed and trendy look that can elevate any semi-formal outfit. Still authoritative and stylishly formal, wearing a navy cardigan sweater is all about striking the right balance.
When paired with a black blazer and polo or dress shirt, this piece effectively bolsters your business casual look. Styled with khaki pants and leather boat shoes, your blue knitwear will create a nicer casual outfit. As the best of both worlds, navy is an excellent option for weekend meetings, date night dinners and upscale cocktail parties.
The grey cardigan is an understated and elegant choice for guys who want to elevate their casual or semi-formal outfit without being loud about it. Grey cardigans go well with all men’s styles, including statement pieces such as like patterned pants, Mandarin collars and oversized watches.
A simple, quality-knit grey cardigan with fitted trousers and an Oxford shirt is a sexy gentleman’s look worth putting together. Grey is a wardrobe basic and allows you to experiment with unique knits, cuts and designs. You can wear a grey asymmetric longline fashionably with a scoop neck, while a grey four-bar Milano stitch is the perfect mix of hipster and classic.
The tan cardigan is a great way to get a strong and rustic look or style a professional and smart outfit. While guys can choose from different cardigan styles, tan is a distinguished color that partners well with structured clothes like work boots, tweed suits, leather-strapped pilot watches and utility jackets.
For a handsome cultivated style, wear a tan cardigan with earth tones like forest green and amber or light shades like Air Force blue and cream to achieve an aristocratic countryside aesthetic.
Men’s Cardigan Outfits
Casual Cardigan Outfits
The cardigan is a stylish piece to wear with jeans and a t-shirt for casual outfits, giving you a relaxed yet chic touch. To create the right look, you can combine a simple crew neck, classic cut jeans and sneakers with a fitted cardigan for a look you can wear to the bar with the guys or on a casual lunch date. For a cool urban look, wear a long cardigan with fitted jeans and fashionable footwear.
You can style a scoop neck slub shirt and leather boots for a cool metropolitan approach or a henley shirt with trainers for that laidback vibe. On colder winter days, throw on an infinity scarf to match the draped-on look of the longline.
For a more polished weekend outfit, pair a fitted marled cardigan with grey chinos and a crew neck t-shirt. You can wear the cardigan open with low-profile dress sneakers. For a smart casual style, consider fastening the middle buttons, leaving the bottom and top ones undone, and wear dress shoes with no-show socks.
Business Casual Cardigan Outfits
A cardigan can be the perfect way to level up your business casual outfit, offering a versatile wardrobe piece you can wear to work for a relaxed elegant look. The business casual cardigan can easily replace your blazer when styled with a button-up shirt and dark denim jeans or dressy pants. If you’re meeting colleagues at the bar for happy hour, just trade in your suit jacket for a simple cardigan to achieve a professional style.
Guys wearing a well-structured collar like an Oxford or a button-down shirt can even take off their tie. Complete your look with horsebit loafers for a worldly and dapper touch or put on traditional Derby shoes if you prefer a sharper finish.
For a modern and trendy outfit, sport a shawl collar cardigan with a spread collar shirt, tailored subtly-patterned tweed trousers, and brown leather dress sneakers. Attractive and cool, featuring cardigans in your business casual attire is all about balance.
Semi-Formal Cardigan Outfit
The cardigan can be dressed up to suit semi-formal and smart casual outfits but requires guys to choose fitted and well-structured styles. To take your look to the next level, you’ll need upscale materials like high-count micron cashmere, mulberry silk, silk blends and Pima cotton.
When styling a business or formal outfit, combine your cardigan with a luxury button-up shirt, tailored trousers and full-grain leather dress shoes. Guys should pick neutral colors during the fall and winter months and faded pastels in the spring and summer.
Since accessories complete any semi-formal style, you may consider wearing leather-strapped dress watches with black, white and brown cardigans. Swiss stainless steel sports watches look elegant when worn with champagne, light pastel and cable-knit designs.
What To Wear with A Cardigan
Cardigan with Shirt
A cardigan with a t-shirt or Oxford shirt is the most popular combination when putting together a casual or smart casual outfit. While this type of knitwear was traditionally styled with a formal button-down dress shirt, modern gentleman have found that the cardigan works well with a range of shirt styles. Whether you’re going for a trendy or classic look, there is a shirt that will fit your desired aesthetic.
You can’t go wrong styling a fitted crew-neck t-shirt with a slim cardigan for a sleek and clean silhouette. As long as they are equally fitted, guys can round out this ensemble with any type of pants, including jeans and chino pants. Cool and casual long cardigans will create a compelling contrast when wearing a crew-neck shirt under, making it a great outfit for a brunch or day at the park.
Like longlines and chunky knit cardigans, v-neck shirts are eye-catching and hip, especially if you’re fit and muscular. Fashionable guys may experiment by mingling different textures to take advantage and stand out. Slub cotton shirts and marled cardigans are an excellent choices with similar organic-looking textures. Reversed sateen v-necks create a stylish balance when dressed with an open chunky knit cardigan.
For a casual Ivy League vibe, you should sport a polo shirt with a simple button-down shawl collar or cable-knit cardigan. For a modern take, choose a Milano stitch cardigan and low-profile dress sneakers. Since camp collars style much like v-neck shirts, you can partner these tops with an open shawl cardigan for an effortless chic look, a long sweater for that vacation vibe or even a traditional button-down for a vintage touch.
Most cardigans look classy and naturally stylish with a collared button-down shirt. Spread and semi-spread collars look best with a full-buttoned cardigan and a tie, while standard collars can be worn more casually. Consider a thin and lightweight cardigan in your favorite color with a double button-down collar for a chic mix of classic and bold features.
Cardigan with Jeans
When choosing to wear jeans, you’ll need your cardigan to curate the right style and silhouette for your desired look. From casual to smart casual, you can dress up your cardigan and jeans with a button-down shirt, tie and dressy shoes or keep it simple with light blue denim and a t-shirt. To complement your knitwear, guys should pick slim fit, skinny or classic jeans but avoid baggy or oversized styles.
For a classic handsome look, wear a long cardigan with a relaxed t-shirt and fitted blue jeans. You can get a sleek fashionable finish with black skinny jeans and a slim-fit shirt. High-end blends and constructions like Pima cotton are best when styled with slim-fit selvedge denim in darker colors and raw washes.
For footwear, you can put on dress shoes, boots or even dressy sneakers to style the perfect outfit. As long as you stick to clean-lined fits, you can try different washes and shades of jeans with most cardigan styles.
Cardigan with Chino Pants
If you’re looking for a dapper look, you’ll want to style chino pants with a cardigan. Chino pants are more casual than dress pants but lighter than jeans, offering a sharp and versatile option for guys. From summer parties to lounges and bars, it’s easy to wear a cardigan with this pant style for a great clean-cut look.
For a casually stylish outfit, you should dress tan chino pants with a nice t-shirt and sneakers. To get a smart casual look, wear black, navy or khaki chinos with an Oxford dress shirt, a fitted button-down or shawl cardigan and leather boots.
Cardigan with Dress Shirt
To take your outfit to the next level, a dress shirt is an excellent complement to your cardigan. Balance is important when choosing a button-up dress shirt to go with your cardigan, especially if you plan to style this combination in the office or for a formal occasion. Whether you want to take off your suit jacket at work or need a semi-formal look to an event, there are many great ways to pull off this style for a classy look.
A chunky shawl is a practical and stylish choice in the winter, but make sure you wear it with a classic collared dress shirt or a club collar. Since dress shirts are longer and meant to be tucked into your pants, you’ll need to keep your cardigan top mostly buttoned and accessorize with the right belt.
A white dress shirt goes well with all different cardigan styles, while a light blue button-down with a tie styles perfectly with a blue or navy jacket. You can finish this dashing look with loafers or dress shoes and a leather belt. Make sure the bottom button of your cardigan is undone to show off the belt.
Cardigan with Suit
You can wear a cardigan with a suit in place of a more formal vest when you need a formal outfit. When styling a business professional look, you should choose a cardigan made of a high-quality fabric blend in the same color as the suit. Layering a cardigan under your suit can give your formal attire a modern twist but still maintain the class and sophistication you need. Colors like dark navy, grey, maroon, steel blue, and dark forest green are expressive but still professional.
For a classic style, combine a thin, high-collar, cable-knit cardigan with a navy suit with gold buttons, a club tie, and brown Oxford shoes. This dapper outfit should only be worn to formal weekend celebrations since it isn’t always appropriate in the modern boardroom.
What To Wear Under A Cardigan
When styling the perfect outfit, what you wear under your cardigan can make all the difference in creating a stylish look. While you can experiment with different styles, button-up shirts and t-shirts will always look best underneath. Guys should pair a nice crew or v-neck t-shirt with a cardigan for a casual style that will look effortlessly cool. Most times, you should stick with a white, black, grey or colors that will complement your top.
A relaxed button-down shirt under an open cardigan sweater can offer a smart look, while an Oxford dress shirt will suit men who need a business professional look around the office. Your ensemble will generally look better when your cardigan is darker than your shirt, allowing the contrast to make both pieces pop for a clean and handsome finish.
How To Wear A Cardigan
- Find the different styles of cardigans and choose the right type for your wardrobe.
- The most popular sweaters are the longline, shawl collar, button-up or chunky knit.
- Black, blue, grey and tan cardigans are the most versatile and look great with most men’s styles.
- Fitted cardigans that button-up are ideal for classy attire while loose and long designs offer a relaxed look.
- For a casual outfit, you should try jeans or chino pants, a polo or t-shirt, and sneakers with a cardigan.
- To get a fashionable smart or business casual style, pair your cardigan with fitted chino pants, a button-down shirt, belt and leather dress shoes or boots.
- You can wear a cardigan with your suit instead of a vest or waistcoat.
- For proper maintenance and care, always fold your cardigan and avoid hanging this knitwear to prevent stretching around the shoulders.