Once upon a time, the cardigan was everything. It was the prim, no-fuss staple to wear over a matching shell at the office. Then boyfriend- and grandpa-inspired styles became the casual look du jour. Since then, though, the piece was in a seeming state of dormancy—until its recent runway resurrection.
The beauty of this very now look is that it’s far less a standard stay-warm go-to and more a conversational element that could easily be the champion of your entire ensemble. It’s as street-chic as it is preppy, as funky as it is polished, and as versatile as you can possibly imagine. Here are five key trends you should remember as you refresh your wardrobe for the season.
1. Cropped and Sweet
Everyone from Kate Middleton to J.Lo has been snapped in this super-now version of the piece. Naturally the two fashion luminaries wore their cardigans decidedly differently—the Duchess over a prim plaid dress and the legendary entertainer slightly unbuttoned with a pair of wide-legged pants for a more saucy take on the look.
Which approach is best for you? It all depends on where you’re headed, but you can never go wrong with a cropped cardi over a fit-and-flare dress for a cute day-out look.
2. Unapologetically Oversized
Sure, there’s a certain fear that your jumbo cardigan will make you look frumpy and dowdy. But there’s nothing lazy or thoughtless about the way the oversized cardi looks when you style it the right way.
Strive for some balance so that everything looks just right from head to toe. A pair of leggings and chunky canvas sneakers lends you a sporty look. You could also throw it on over a sleek, fitted dress and a pair of pumps when the office feels a little chilly.
Magda Butrym Oversized floral wool-blend cardigan
Etro Paisley oversized cardigan
3. Graphically Patterned
Gone are the days of proper cardigans that looked more librarian-appropriate than anything else. The addition of bold patterns brings them firmly into the modern-day wardrobe without apology. Use a vibrant print to perk up a sedate corporate pencil skirt and pumps or to liven up the sleek shift dress you plan to wear from desk to date.
4. Fun and Furry
Following in the footsteps of the teddy coat trend, the fuzzy cardigan is spring’s answer that allows you to stay comparably toasty when you need a warming layer. Braving the breeze is easy when you’re doing it in a piece that’s cozy, cute, and right on-trend. Keep it casual with a pair of loose jeans or try a longer length with leggings and booties when it’s a little more brisk outside.
5. Posh and Blousy
Take your cue from that certain nonchalant sense of chic that you admire in your favorite French fashion statement makers. The blousy cardi is a bit slouchy in its construction, but not sloppy—it’s simply more relaxed in its silhouette. This makes it perfect for tucking into a pair of flowing trousers or a slender pencil skirt.