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- Cardigans are the perfect piece of clothing to throw on when you catch a chill or just want an extra layer of warmth.
- LOFT has a great selection of cardigans that are relatively affordable and made from great materials.
- That’s why it’s our favorite place to shop for cardigans.
When in doubt, don a cardigan. That seems to be the unofficial rule for turning any casual outfit into its business casual equivalent. A classic cardigan has saved me many a time from being woefully underdressed — really, it is a wonder that I don’t carry one with me everywhere I go. Keys, check; cellphone, check; cardigan, double check.
Capable of bridging the gap between work and weekend clothes, the perfect cardigan is a closet staple worth stockpiling. After all, in addition to keeping you sharply dressed, it also helps keep you warm in frigid office environments. When it comes to picking out your perfect cardigan, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, you’ll want to consider the fit. While some cardigans make slouchy look elegant, others are slightly more buttoned up, and could almost pass for a less structured blazer. You should also think about whether or not you want your cardigan to be of the buttoned variety — I’ve found that some of my favorite cardigans look perfectly sleek even kept open. Depending on the formality of your environment, you may want to adjust your standards for the ideal cardigan.
Also important to keep in mind is the material of your cardigan. Wool probably won’t work as well in warmer environments, while a thin cotton won’t do much to keep you cozy in the winter. While some cardigans are made with heavier materials, others look as wispy and delicate as a spring day.
Of course, you’ll also want to think about your preferred color scheme. Whether you prefer to maintain an all-black wardrobe or add some accent pieces, a cardigan can match your aesthetic, whatever it may be.
Finally, you’ll want to keep price points in mind. Cardigans are not, in fact, blazers, and as such probably shouldn’t cost you quite as much. In fact, you can get a perfectly decent piece for under $20, especially when shopping at some of our favorite places.
No matter which of our favorite stores you choose to buy your next cardigan, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.
Here are the best cardigans you can buy:
- Best cardigans overall: LOFT
- Best minimalist cardigans: Everlane
- Best inexpensive cardigans: Forever 21
- Best ridiculously comfortable cardigans: Pact
- Best long cardigans: Topshop
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best cardigans overall
Why you’ll love them: LOFT’s cardigans have withstood the test of time thanks to their comfortable materials, durable construction, and classic aesthetic.
You always knew that you would turn into your mother, but as it turns out, that’s nothing at all to be afraid or ashamed of. Not only have you inherited your mother’s smarts and looks, but you’ve also inherited her fashion sense. And that sense will likely lead you straight to LOFT.
Though the brand has been around since 1954 (LOFT is one of the subsidiaries of Ann Taylor), don’t assume that its relatively mature age means that it’s lost touch with modern fashion. Rather, I’ve found that cardigans from LOFT do a great job of combining timeless elegance with more recent trends — jewel tones, unique cuts, and a distinctive point of view.
Ultimately, what I love best about LOFT is its extensive selection when it comes to cardigans. Once upon a time, my closet consisted of just a couple nearly identical black button-up sweaters that I figured would do the trick for any occasion. LOFT, however, showed me otherwise. In fact, if you narrow your search down to just cardigans on the company website, you’ll return 62 total results, none of which are particularly similar to one another.
Whether you’re looking for an animal print, an open cardigan, or a cardigan with pockets, LOFT has something for you. Plus, the brand almost always has something on sale and has the added benefit of both brick and mortar and online presences. That certainly makes shopping and trying things on significantly easier.
LOFT also has reasonable price points for most of its offerings, which means that you can certainly stock up on a wide range of styles without breaking the bank. All in all, no matter what environment or occasion you might be shopping for, LOFT almost certainly has what you’re looking for.
Pros: Wide selection, affordable price point, several unique styles, available both in-stores and online
Cons: With such a wide catalog, you may get fatigued scrolling through all your options
The best minimalist cardigans
Why you’ll love it: Everlane’s cardigan collection is chic, minimalistic, but oh so cozy.
It’s been nine years since Everlane was founded, and in that time, the e-commerce brand has managed to make its way into what seems like every millennial’s professional and casual wardrobe. And with pieces like its cardigans, it’s really not very difficult to see why.
Everlane is absolutely unmatched in making the simple look sleek. Even without the help of bold colors or prints or off-the-wall cuts, Everlane still manages to exude a timeless elegance in all of its pieces. That’s thanks in part to its generous use of cashmere, which certainly lends a sense of grace to its sweaters and cardigans.
Take, for example, the Cashmere Square V-Neck Cardigan. I love the oversized fit and the v-neck that is deep enough for intrigue but still office appropriate. Plus, with its square pockets, it’s supremely functional as well. While you could easily take this cardigan with you on a windy beach day, you could also wear it to the workplace without feeling too casual.
Everlane certainly does the boxy, oversized look better than most, but its fitted options are beautiful as well. I’m a huge fan of the Luxe Wool Rib Cardigan. It’s relatively lightweight (though made from merino wool), and has a slim fit that looks fantastic tucked into a pair of jeans or slacks.
Most of Everlane’s options come in a few different colors options, though most are neutral tones.
Pros: Transparent sourcing and pricing model, elegant design, beautiful and comfortable construction
Cons: If you’re looking for something a bit edgier, Everlane may not deliver in the cardigan department
The best inexpensive cardigans
Why you’ll love it: Forever 21 is here to prove that you can buy a cardigan for less than $20.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I have more than a couple Forever 21 pieces hanging in my closet, and surprisingly enough, the ones that have lasted the longest have been my cardigans. When it comes to your basic, everyday cardigan selection, this teen-focused brand is actually a great place to start your search.
From color-blocked to cropped; from long and flowy to warm and chunky, Forever 21 certainly has one of the wider selections of cardigans both online and in-stores. Because this brand caters toward a younger customer base, you’ll also be pleased to find that all of these styles are remarkably affordable.
You can find a number of cardigans, like the Slub Knit Longline Cardigan, for less than $20, and there’s even a style or two for about $11. I’ve found that in-stores, I’ve been able to grab cardigans for as cheap as $9.90 — while they’re not revolutionary in their design or craftsmanship, they certainly get the job done when pulled over a camisole and a nice skirt.
The millennial clientele of Forever 21 may also appreciate the looser interpretation of "cardigan." Take, for example, the Ornate Print Kimono, a lovely flowy number that would work well as a bathing suit cover-up or as a boho-chic summer look. The Sheer Floral Longline Cardigan is another unique option, what with its light fabric and its flowery pattern.
But just because Forever 21 has a few more creative options on its list doesn’t mean that it’s pushed traditional styles to the wayside. The Solid Draped Cardigan is just $12 and is a simple yet chic open cardigan that looks fantastic on top of a pair of dress pants.
Pros: Incredibly inexpensive, wide range of styles, wide range of patterns and colors
Cons: You won’t find the highest-quality cardigans here, but with prices like these, you can easily replace them
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