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How to wear a cardigan


It is a truth universally known that most of us reach for a cardigan as a fail-safe layer for almost any outfit - and for good reason. The humble cardigan is a wardrobe miracle that can highlight what we love and hide what we don't. But sometimes it just doesn't work - the cardigan that looked stitch-perfect on the hanger suddenly looks a slumpy, lumpy mess on. We all struggle with this dilemma, so with a little help from style guru and fashion blogger Josephine of Chic at Any Age, here's our guide on how to wear a cardigan... 

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  • Choose a style that is flattering to your shape. We all tend to get those roly-poly lumps and bumps round our middles, and it is therefore normally best to choose a more forgiving style.
  • Unless you are blessed with very slim hips, it is not a good idea to wear a cardigan that ends at your widest part. Longline cardigans are often a better idea.
  • Pastels can look good in the summer months; however be wary of wearing them all year round. A good classic navy or grey are better options in the winter.
  • If you want to go for a brighter colour, make sure it suits your skin tone so that it reflects a flattering light onto your face. Beige is very unforgiving and is best avoided.
  • Choose a style that can be artfully draped and used as a scarf.
  • A chunky statement necklace or the addition of a brooch can dramatically change the look of a classic style.


  • Wear a loose, baggy style or a size too large. The 'bag lady' look is not a good one.
  • Wear a dull or drab colour. You do not want to become totally invisible.
  • Wear a style where the bottom edge ends at an unflattering part of the body, often the bum or hips depending on your shape.
  • Waterfall styles can look, well, droopy. Tie with a belt if you have a good waist, or drape and fix with a brooch.
  • If you are not that tall, steer clear of very chunky styles as they will add bulk

Choosing a cardigan style

When it comes to choosing a style of cardigan that will suit you, the two most important things to work out are: which cuts are flattering for your body shape and what colours go well with your skin tone? Once you've discovered what works for you and what doesn't, there are many ways to experiement with cardigans to flatter your look. Here are some styles to inspire you... 

Crew neck cardigans

Crew neck cardigans come in every colour of the rainbow and can be seen anywhere from high street shops to fashion catwalks. The rounded neck makes them very flattering on those who have oval, round or strawberry-shaped faces - and works well with shorter style hair cuts like the bob. 


Longline cardigans

Longline cardigans are perfectly paired with jeans or slim trousers - and good at dressing up a casual outfit. Whether you go for a longline waterfall, below the knee or the classic thigh length cardigan, these cuts can hide a multitude of sins whilst adding a touch of elegance and style to any outfit. 


Mixing fabrics and layers 

If you enjoy looking stylish and feeling 'on trend', multi-fabric cardigans could be an excellent addition to your wardrobe. Pair with plain trousers, skirts or dresses and casual makeup and hair to balance the look. Adding layers of different lengths, colours and fabrics can help create 'movement' to your outfit; experiment with classic colours like black, grey, white and beige - and don't be afraid to go for a slightly bolder look...


Match your style

Cardigans work best when they highlight your individuality. So, when you're buying a new cardigan think about your personal style. Is it classic, casual, nordic, bold, colorful or quite eccentric? Whichever style makes you feel like yourself, your cardigans should compliment it. When thinking about styles, consider what kind of fabric most of your clothes are made of and whether you prefer contrasting colours or nuances and shades.  

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Go for stripes and dots

Wearing bold patterns such as stripes and dots can sometimes feel dauntingly 'out there', but it need not be. In fact, when paired with the right clothes, bold patterns can look both stylish and classic. There are three golden rules to remember: never wear stripes with stripes, it's safer to stay within the same colour scheme and do consider wearing dots with dots.   


Pair it with a scarf

All cardigans look great paired with a scarf. Whether you like chequered, striped or leopard print, wearing a scarf will add instant style to your cardigan.   


Tips and tricks

Sticking to one colour head to toe will elongate the silhouette and add height should you need to. 

Avoid acrylic if possible as it has a tendency to cause a static charge. Invest in good quality fabric as it will drape and wear better and is not as likely to cling to awkward parts of the body.

When all the brooches, belts and colour coordinating is done, remember a cardigan can be a very useful item in the wardrobe if chosen with care to reflect your style. And, once you find a shape that suits you, stick to it.

Useful sites


Phase Eight

White Stuff

John Lewis



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