Winter Cardigan Style Guide

I love cardigans. I love wearing things over other things. I like adding a “topper” of some sort to the base outfit. In the cold weather: cardigans, blazers, light jackets. In the summer, kimonos, lightweight dusters, oversized blouses.

But for today, I thought I’d share some style tips I’ve learned (or made up!) about wearing cardigans.

One of the easiest cold weather outfits is pants and a light sweater or knit top. To me, that feels a little unfinished, so I like to put a cardigan over top.

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Charlotte Russe blanket cardigan 3x, Old Navy Rockstar jeans 22, silk-trimmed long-sleeved tea from Avenue 26/28, Avenue booties

With pants I always like a cardi (or blazer, kimono, etc) that’s at least a little longer than what you’re wearing underneath.

I also prefer when the top layer is darker than the underneath layer. This might just be me, but to me colors have weight. Dark colors carry more visual weight than lighter colors, and wearing the lighter over the darker just always feels “off” to me. In this case they’re kind of close, they’re both grey, but the long sleeved tee base top is a lighter grey than the cardigan over top.

Here’s an example of the opposite…and it’s not TERRIBLE (fortunately my closet is not full of too many “don’ts”!). Lighter over darker. I’d have to really be down to just a few things in my closet to opt to wear these pieces together.

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Another favorite outfit of mine is a cardigan over a dress. In this case, I like the two to be almost exactly the same length. This can be more difficult to arrange unless you’re buying both pieces at the same time, so it’s especially nice when it works out like it does here.

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Michael Kors blue cardigan 3x, Alice & You swing dress 22/24

I didn’t have a good example to show from my winter closet, but I really only like shorter or cropped cardigans over a dress with a defined waist. With a loose trapeze or swing dress like the one shown here, I opt for an equally long, loose and swingy overpiece. I feel like when the bottom hem lengths of the two pieces are too disparate that it can cut the body horizontally too many times – and most bodies don’t benefit from horizontal chopping. Does that make sense?

Here’s an example of wearing a top that is shorter than the bottom piece. Again, imagine the bottom piece as even longer, like a tunic – I had to work with what I currently have!

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Mustard yellow cardigan old, 3x; Avenue cream silk-trimmed long-sleeved tee 26/28; Charlotte Russe Refuge jeans 24 short

Who wants multiple horizontal lines cutting across their butt?? Not this girl!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really enjoying the athleisure trend. In the past, I would have only thought of a sweatshirt or zipfront jacket over leggings but now there are darling hoodie cardigans to wear. My “rule” in this case, is to be sure that either the under or over piece covers your butt when you’re wearing leggings. That said, if you’re tall and slim this rule does not apply πŸ™‚ But for us mere mortals it’s nice to have some guidelines.

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All items (except Adidas sneakers) from Avenue: grey waffle-knit hoodie 22/24; cream silk-trimmed long-sleeved tee 26/28; navy cropped pima cotton leggings 22

Another type of cardigan is the oversized wrap. My little rule with this is: baggy on top, snug on bottom. If you’re wearing an oversized piece on top, then wear skinny jeans or leggings or slim tailored pants or a pencil skirt on the bottom. Below I’m showing another “don’t.” These jeans are just too baggy and wrinkled at the knees to look their best with this oversized cardigan. My black skinny jeans would be a much better choice.

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BB Dakota blanket cardigan via Gwynnie Bee 3x; cream Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda jeans 24; Avenue grey silk-trimmed long-sleeved tee 26/28

It’s important when putting outfits together to not just think of what colors go together, but what scales work together, and what the lines of the clothing are doing to your body.

All that said, WHO THE HECK AM I? Ha! Anyone who knows me knows that “Bettye Breaks the Rules,” so read what I’ve written and then put your own spin on it. These are just things I’ve learned that work for me, that when I can, I apply to my wardrobe. But you do you πŸ™‚

I like to really analyze outfits I see that I like…and try and understand WHY I like that one, and not another one. It’s more complex than just “ooh, that baby pink looks so pretty with camel.” Color can be the most obvious characteristic of an outfit but I wouldn’t say it’s the most important. Scale, balance, ratio, fabrics, line, style: all extremely important. And ha, this is “do as I say not as I do!” With this body I often have to take what I can get – based on what fits, so even *I* am not able to follow all my guidelines all the time. But I’m always mindful of them. And I hope after reading this you will be too.

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