Which cardigan is best?

Looking just as good over a shirt and tie as a vintage band tee and ripped jeans, cardigans are versatile garments that deserve a place in most people’s closets. They’re great for mild days when it’s too warm for a jacket or a thick sweater but not quite T-shirt weather. 

If you’re looking for one that’s open-fronted with a relaxed style for everyday wear, the Daily Ritual Long-Sleeve Cardigan is an excellent choice. 

What to know before you buy a cardigan

Cut

Consider the fit and neckline that you want from your garment. Those cut with high, round necklines are perfect for a preppy look but can be more casual when left unbuttoned. V-neck versions work well with shirts and ties but can equally be worn over T-shirts for a relaxed look. 

A classic fit is cut close to the body but not overly tight or figure-hugging, which is a good place to start if you aren’t sure what cut you prefer. However, you can also find more tightly fitted options as well as looser, baggy cuts. 

Closure type

Typically, cardigans have buttons, which can start at the neck or partway down the front, depending on the cut. However, you can also find some with zipper closures or snaps. The latter is uncommon outside of kids’ clothes as snaps don’t stay closed as well as buttons or zippers. Then you have open cardigans that don’t have buttons, zippers or any other type of closure. These offer a more relaxed look compared to those that do up. 

Size

Cardigans are usually sold in named sizes (small, medium, large, etc.) rather than in numerical sizes or dress sizes. You probably know which size you usually wear, but clothing brands are notorious for having no continuity of sizing between them. You could find a medium from one brand fits you perfectly, while a large from another brand is too small. 

If you aren’t sure which size to buy, check the sizing chart and take your measurements. Also consider whether you want to layer a couple of other garments underneath on cold days, in which case you should size up. 

What to look for in a quality cardigan

Colors and prints

You can find all kinds of solid colors, so whether you’re looking for basic black or a bold scarlet hue, you’ll be able to discover what you’re looking for. You’ll occasionally also find prints, such as florals or leopard print. 

Length

A standard length sits around the top of the hips, but you can also find longer versions that are midthigh or knee-length as well as cropped versions. It’s all down to personal preference and what types of outfit you want to put together. 

Sleeve length

While most have full-length sleeves, you’ll also find versions with shorter sleeves. Three-quarter length sleeves sit around the mid-forearm, while half-length sleeves sit around the elbow.

How much you can expect to spend on a cardigan

Expect to pay from $15-$100 for something from a department store brand or average fashion label. Designer options could cost well into the hundreds, if not thousands, but most buyers aren’t looking for anything that high-end.

Cardigan FAQ

What is a cardigan?

A. It’s a knit sweater that’s open at the front and may have a zip, buttons or snaps. If it has a zipper down the front but it’s made from sweatshirt material rather than knitted fabric, it’s technically a zippered sweatshirt. 

Where do cardigans get their name? 

A. They’re named after the 7th Earl of Cardigan, James Brudenell, who popularized the item of clothing. Brudenell was a British Army general during the Crimean war who is said to have spent vast sums outfitting officers in wool waistcoats. He gained fame after the war due to his military pursuits, and this led to the garment becoming trendy with the country’s civilian population.

What do you wear under a cardigan? 

A. For a casual look, wear it over a crew neck or V-neck T-shirt or over a thin turtleneck sweater if it’s cold or you simply like turtlenecks. For a smarter look, wear a blouse or button-down shirt underneath. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They work with almost any outfit because you can make them look as preppy or as grungy as you like (think of Kurt Cobain’s iconic green cardigan).

What’s the best cardigan to buy?

Top cardigan

Daily Ritual Long-Sleeve Cardigan

Daily Ritual Long-Sleeve Cardigan

What you need to know: This fine-knit open cardigan is perfect for casual to smart-casual wear.

What you’ll love: You can choose from 13 colors, including burgundy, black, olive and navy. It’s machine-washable and fast drying. It is ribbed at the hem and cuffs and has side pockets. 

What you should consider: It’s fairly thin, so it’s better for mild weather days rather than the depths of winter. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cardigan for the money

Grace Karin Long Sleeve Button-down Cardigan

Grace Karin Long Sleeve Button-down Cardigan

What you need to know: With its shallow V-neck and button-down front, it’s a versatile choice. 

What you’ll love: It’s relatively light but still feels warm with pleasantly soft fabric. It comes in a whopping 41 color combinations, including heather gray, cerulean, lemon yellow and lake blue with a caramel trim. 

What you should consider: It runs small, so consider sizing up if you’re between sizes or prefer a loose fit.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Nautica Navtech Knit Cardigan

Nautica Navtech Knit Cardigan

What you need to know: It’s perfect for wearers who want a classic fit with a relatively deep V-neck.

What you’ll love: It’s made from temperature-controlled fabric that’s great for layering without overheating. There are four colors to choose from: coastal camel heather, gray heather, true black and navy. 

What you should consider: It isn’t a great choice for cold weather because the material is quite thin.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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