A cashmere-wrapped Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies, an artfully disheveled Mary-Kate Olsen in an oversized open knit strolling around SoHo with a latte in hand—the best cardigans create powerful style moments and are more than just an as-needed thermal layer. When shopped and styled thoughtfully, they can be one of the best sweaters in your cozy collection. And while not every cardigan you own needs to be a scene-stealing number of an HBO Max or It-girl caliber, you should take the style seriously—especially this season's offerings. Contemporary takes on the classic style are trend-informed (see: Jacquemus' multi-pocket number in electric lilac) and run a gamut of aesthetics, catering to both minimal and maximal dressers alike.
Ahead, dive deep into our edit of trending cardigans for winter 2022-2023, and find some input and styling tips from a few fashion insiders to guide you throughout sweater weather.
What to Look For
"There are two ways to wear a cardigan in 2022: Tiny and tight, or open and oversized—there's no middle ground," shares Lisa Sanchez, fashion editor and lead stylist for fashion platform The Nines. You'll find that these oppositional cardigan styles perfectly mirror fashion's two attitudes as of late; Ultra-sensual, provocative silhouettes (think look-at-me sheers and high-shine party wares) in contrast to pieces that prioritize the wearer's comfort with baggy fits and easy materials.
- Form-Fitting & Cropped
If a more showy sartorial perspective inspires you, Sanchez says to seek out cardigans made from tightly woven, compact knits in form-fitting silhouettes. "Choose a cardigan in a clingy knit, with fewer than three buttons, that's short enough to pair with your mid-rise jeans and trousers," she offers. Another option for bold dressers who want their sweaters to reflect their adventurous style is a cropped cardigan (opens in new tab). Depending on how you style the tummy-baring style, the piece works for daytime outfits as well as daring going-out looks for after hours.
- Oversized & Long
"If you go for an oversized cardigan sweater (opens in new tab)," says Sanchez, "take a cue from Kurt Cobain and go as long and slouchy as possible. Ideally, it should look like you snatched the cardigan from your grandfather's closet!"
In addition to roomy, borrowed-from-grandpappy options, longline coatigans—which is exactly what it sounds like: a hybrid cardigan-coat—are becoming quite a prominent 2022 sweater trend. (opens in new tab) Claire Heathcoate (opens in new tab), co-founder of sustainable luxury fashion brand Loop Cashmere (opens in new tab), describes it as "the perfect middle ground between the practicality and warmth of a coat and the stylish comfort of a cardigan." She adds that the dual-purpose piece offers worthwhile versatility, too. "The usual cardigan and coat may be a practical purchase, but they're often limited in terms of where and when they can be worn. The coatigan, however, is primed for both indoor and outdoor use, making it the perfect loungewear companion and a sophisticated outerwear option," says Heathcoate.
Styling a Cardigan
Sanchez shares that the key to styling a cardigan, no matter its silhouette, is proportion play. "I always recommend pairing a cardigan with its opposite. If you're going big and bulky, try a teensy bra top underneath, or wear it with a pair of bike shorts," she offers. "And if the cardigan leaves nothing to the imagination, skip the skinny jeans. Instead, try a relaxed fit on the bottom to balance your proportions.
The Best Cardigans
- Best Overall: Everlane The Felted Merino Cardigan (opens in new tab)
- Best Splurge: Jacquemus' Neve Cardigan (opens in new tab)
- Best Coatigan: Loop Cashmere's Cashmere Cable Coatigan (opens in new tab)
- Best Black Cardigan: & Other Stories' Bouclé Knit Cardigan (opens in new tab)
- Best Long Cardigan: Zara's Long Patch Pocket Cardigan (opens in new tab)
- Best Cropped Cardigan: Reformation's Val Regenerative Wool Cardigan (opens in new tab)
Like an old friend from childhood, Everlane’s Felted Merino Cardigan is a reliable, comfortable, and, simply put, easy option you’ll be grateful to have in your wardrobe. Made of ultra-soft and cozy felted merino wool, it’s a timeless style that’s immune to the ever-churning trend cycle and will last you for ample seasons to come. "This is the perfect in-between cardigan [that] will be a staple for years to come," writes one overjoyed reviewer on this button-up style. "I like how warm and substantial it feels on, without it being chunky or too thin. The wool is soft and not scratchy at all."
Odds are, you're very aware that cargo pants have clinched the title of 2022's leading trend. The utilitarian bottoms became so prevalent that they've spawned similar iterations across fashion's gamut, like multi-pocket handbags, parachute pants, and now, cargo cardigans. With its multiple open pockets that feel more fashion-driven than utilitarian, Jacquemus' Neve Cardigan is a prime example of the latter style. But beyond just a cozy take on the cargo trend, this brushed stretch-knit cardigan is a worthwhile investment for your winter sweater lineup with profound wearability.
Best Celebrity-Approved Style
"Nobody does tiny and tight like Olivia Culpo," says Sanchez, a celebrity style expert. "She looks divine in this Lovers and Friends hot pink cardigan with feather trim. (Note the daring single clasp!) Choose this look if you feel frumpy in anything bulky." For a playful holiday party outfit, team this feathered Barbiecore-esque number with sleek leather pants and your favorite pair of platform pumps. Oh, and, of course, don't forget to add a touch of sparkle either via your jewelry or handbag.
"As oversized clothing continues to be a well-loved trend, [a coatigan] manages to achieve this style flawlessly without swamping your figure," describes Heathcoate. "Equally, for those who prefer their sizings more on the petite side, a coatigan"—like Loop Cashmere's black duster option—"can be styled as a neat and chic outer layer that will cater towards all body types and lengths." As for wearing the longline style, Heathcoate advises you "opt for simple blue jeans or tapered neutral trousers" and to seek out "coordinating materials, textures, and colors."
Best Chunky Cardigan
Maximalists, gather around, please, because this one’s for you. A rainbow patchwork style made from chunky, textured yarn, FRNCH’s open cardigan is a guaranteed dopamine rush. “The bright colors and soft material have me reaching for this sweater often,” writes a happy owner of the sweater. “It’s surprisingly warm and looks great with jeans and a simple tee.” Another reviewer shares that they “[get] so many compliments from this sweater” and are particularly fond of the statement item’s oversized fit.
Best Travel Cardigan
With an average rating of four-point-nine out of five stars, Quince's open modal style is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. "This cardigan is really made for lounging in style," writes one happy shopper. "The fabric is excellent, and I will surely be using it as a uniform for traveling." Another reviewer concurs: "This wrap cardigan will definitely become a travel staple! It is so soft and substantial and feels like pajamas. I love the beautiful drape and weight to the fabric, excellently deep pockets, and wrist-covering sleeves with thumb holes!" Add this one to your cart ahead of your next trip because—let's be honest—who doesn't love thumb holes?
Best Oversized Cardigan
For those who gravitate toward slouchy fits, stop your search—Mango's Striped Cardigan is the oversized, comfort-forward option that'll make your baggy-silhouette-loving heart very happy. It offers a subtle graphic punch with its blue stripes, too, so if you're hoping to add more prints to your winter wardrobe, rejoice. Take a cue from Sanchez and style this capacious piece with trousers in more of a slim-fitting silhouette. Sleek leggings would create a comfy-casual ensemble, while cropped cigarette pants make for a polished look perfect for in-office work days.
Best Cropped Cardigan
If you're fond of any and all things shiny, try this embellished sweater (opens in new tab) from fashion folks' go-to brand, Reformation. In addition to its statement high-shine buttons, the cropped silhouette and wide, balloon-esque sleeves create a dramatic effect that feels, put simply, fun. Bonus: This playful cardigan is made from NATIVA wool, a 100-percent traceable merino wool sourced from a regenerative farm, so it's a style you can add to your collection with a clear conscience. Try teaming it with a slinky slip skirt and heeled booties.
Best Cashmere Cardigan
If you're hoping to add a cashmere sweater to your lineup but don't plan on busting your entire winter budget, turn to NAADAM, in particular its Cashmere Boyfriend Cardigan. "Versatile, comfortable, soft, and casual yet elegant when worn open over a dress or paired with a nice top and button-up—this is a great cardigan," gushes one reviewer. Another shopper raves about the cashmere company's ethical production process: "I adore my NAADAM Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater! I love that it helps improve the lives of the people who made it, along with their children."
Best Long Cardigan
A similar coatigan style with its duster-like silhouette, Zara's long, open cardigan offers cozy wear without the bulk of a winter coat or jacket. Heathcoate's advice for styling a piece such as this one? Treat it as a complement to your overall outfit. "When wearing your favorite shirt or jumper, the last thing you want is for your outer layer to completely drown out what’s worn underneath, something that a heavy coat or thick cardigan can often be guilty of. Complementary clothing is a wonderful way to add layering to your wardrobe without impeding upon your overall look, offering a chic and homely addition to your outfit that will enhance every aspect.”
Best Black Cardigan
Pro tip: To make the color black a bit more visually stimulating, seek out pieces done in unexpected and interesting textures—like & Other Stories inky bouclé cardigan. The dare-to-be-touched fuzz makes it feel like more of a statement piece and offers the perfect amount of oomph to an otherwise neutral sweater. If Angelina Jolie or the Olsen twin's many all-black street style moments didn't already convince you, this cardigan proves that black is absolutely not boring.
Best Men's Cardigan
Sanchez encourages you to think beyond just the womenswear options. "Don't be afraid to check out the men's section if you're more of a grunge rocker at heart," she encourages, saying those options will offer more of a roomier, boxier fit that fans of baggy silhouettes will enjoy. "This Officine Generale version in grey looks straight out of a vintage collection." As for styling this intarsiaV-neck cardigan, layer it atop your best tank top and team it with slim-fitting trousers and white sneakers.
Meet the Experts
Lisa is the Fashion Editor of The Nines, a site that features celebrity fashion exact matches and “buy it for less” versions of every outfit. Lisa has been working in various roles in the fashion industry since graduating from The University of Colorado in 2012.
Claire Heathcoate is the co-founder of sustainable, luxury cashmere brand, Loop Cashmere, which was launched in 2020. Claire previously worked as a former Buying and Merchandising Director at Pure Collection. Having great awareness of the impact that fashion can have on people and the planet, sustainability has been woven into the heart of their brand, with their yarn and products sourced from Inner Mongolia.
Emma Childs is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, where she researches up-and-coming trends, curates shopping guides, and gushes about the must-buy items she can't stop thinking about. She previously wrote for TZR, Editorialist, Elite Daily, and Mission Magazine and studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University. When she's not writing up fashion deep-dives or finding the season's best pieces, you'll find her fiddling around in Photoshop and perusing HBO Max for the next show to base her personality on (currently, it's "Succession").
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