As some of the more ubiquitous items in a wardrobe, men's cardigan sweaters move easily from season to season and offer plenty of styling options. The cardigan has been severely updated in recent years, becoming more than just a functional piece favored by the older set and school children. Today's cardigans are as trendy and current as anything on the runway, and they offer even the most fashion-conscious males a practical and stylish solution for those chilly days.
The Practical Cardigan
A few garments trump all others in the sensibility department. The cardigan sweater is definitely one of them. Inherently simple, easy to wear and classic, cardigans are available in a wide range of materials, colors, prints and cuts, so there truly is something for every man. The staid, button-down look that was once acquainted with that quintessentially "Mr. Rogers" style of dressing no longer remains the norm. The new crop of men's cardigan sweaters ensures that style isn't relegated to the backseat in favor of comfort and practicality.
Nevertheless, even the most stylish cardigans in the world should, at the end of the day, meet those needs. It is, after all, a fall and winter staple. Ideally, it's layered over a thin top and worn beneath a lightweight jacket on brisk fall days. It moves similarly into winter, adding an extra tier of warmth to your ensemble. Of course, its best detail is that it's so flexible. Unlike, say, a basic top, it can be easily removed and pulled back on as the weather changes throughout the day.
Cardigans are also highly versatile. A neutral style is smart and efficient beneath a suit jacket during work hours, while more colorful or printed variations can make an outfit instantly more intriguing during the weekend or after hours on a chilly night. Fortunately, there are options galore available when it comes to choosing a great cardigan!
Styles of Men's Cardigan Sweaters
Never let it be said that you can't wear a cardigan - or rather, never say that you can't simply because you think they're boring. In truth, there's never been a more interesting selection available than there is today. Designers are exceptionally creative in their designs; they combine various materials, mix unusual designs and, in some cases, even give their cardigans a crisp, blazer-like look.
Colors are a necessary element of any man's wardrobe. A little pop is always helpful, especially when it's accomplished in a subtle, understated manner that doesn't distract. If you're planning to wear a vibrant color during the fall and winter, think in terms of warm, seasonal shades, like mustard, burnt orange, dark blue and burgundy. When wearing a bright cardigan, your shirt should be neutral - gray and charcoal are less harsh than white and generally pair well with anything.
When you think preppy, you think argyle. This is a look that moves easily from casual to polished environments. Neutral argyle prints incorporate nicely into a workplace wardrobe, especially worn beneath a blazer and with a neutral shirt. On weekends, pair it with khakis or jeans for a low-key yet stylish look.
Believe it or not, there's such a thing as a polished cardigan. Some are so smartly constructed, in fact, that they can even be worn in lieu of blazers. Opt for dark, neutral shades - again, charcoal is always a great choice - and look for materials that are thick and comfortable, like cashmere or, in some cases, wool. Subtle details, such as slim stripes along the button line or around the cuffs, add some visual intrigue without going overboard.
Cardigans aren't meant just for the coolest months of the year, though. A lightweight knit style is completely appropriate to wear during springtime or on a slightly cool summer evening. During these periods, it's a great time to experiment with bolder, more vivacious colors. Think in terms of the season: Now is the time to pull out those vibrant greens, electric blues and brilliant yellows. Keep it super casual by layering it over a plain white T-shirt and jeans.
Where to Shop
You can pretty much find cardigans anywhere, but great selections abound during fall and winter. Shop these stores for ample offerings:
- Banana Republic translates hot runway looks to the real world, complete with real life prices to match. Look for ultra-soft cashmere during the winter, chunky cable knits and lightweight styles alike and plenty of patterns to suit color-happy individuals.
- Macy's offers a little something for everyone, at all price points. Look for everything from in-house designers to bigger names, and expect to find something that really suits your needs.
- Ralph Lauren is the place to go if you're shopping for someone special and if money is no object. Using materials like hand-knit wool and cashmere, their luxurious cardigans boast a timeless quality. These are great choices for someone who wears cardigans regularly and appreciates the elegance of a Ralph Lauren design.