STOP! Before you Marie Kondo the shit out of your closet and decide your cardigans no longer bring you joy, I'm here to make a case for the sweater as a warm-weather staple. Cardigans are the perfect transitional piece to take you from chilly spring mornings to breezier summer nights and then back into that fall/winter cycle. You're probably thinking, but how do I wear a cardigan in the summer when it's sweltering hot?
Well, consider the cardigan as the key to layering in your summertime ensembles. For instance, as the sun goes down and the sea breeze causes goosebumps on your skin, cover up with a cozy light knit cardigan. For us 9-to-5 folks, you know the office air conditioner is our number one enemy, so keep a cardigan on hand to wrap yourself with. (I love to layer and I hate losing that element when I get dressed in the summer.) A cardigan, in a light-as-air fabric, allows you to layer without suffering the sweaty consequences. There, I rest my case.
Ahead, nine cardigan outfit ideas that are perfect for whatever you have planned.
An ode to the enviable French girl look. Timeless and chic, this outfit has a no-brainer formula: Breton stripes, a relaxed basic navy cardigan, and jeans that fit to perfection, ensuring your outfit looks expensive. Add a classic ballet flat and gold hoop earrings. Top off your look with a basket bag à la Jane Birkin. Très chic.
Forget everything you know about the twinset—no seriously, they aren't just for the country club. The conservative style got an update this season, so you can leave the pearls at home. This polka-dot duo features a cardigan and a matching knit-tank top. The tank has a plunging neckline, not suited for your stuffy mother-in-law, to show a peek of skin. Take a note from your fav street style stars and rock this set with an on-trend pair of leather Bermuda shorts. No It-girl look is complete without accessories. Finish off with strap sandals, a chic designer bag in a bold color, and a hair bow. This outfit is most definitely Instagram approved.
Shop the look: 1. Zara cardigan, $17,99; 2. Jennifer Behr bow barrette, $225; 3. Zara knit top, $17.99; 4. Frankie Shop leather shorts, $119; 5. Chanel vanity case, $4,100; 6. Manu Atelier sandals, $330
Everything comes full circle in fashion. With that being said, the '90s and early 2000's are back in a big way. Let's combine some classics from the two eras. Pay homage to the '90s with a cropped cardigan and a silk slip skirt, add an iconic nylon Prada bag for that quintessential 2000's touch. Finally, tie it all together with some cool girl sunnies, black converse, and a sleek gold chain.
Shop the look: 1. Aritzia cardigan, $78; 2. Cutler and Gross sunglasses, $460; 3. Adina's Jewels choker, $68; 4. Réalisation parslip skirt, $195; 5. Prada nylon mini bag, $850; 6. Converse high top sneakers, $85
Being stuck at home has me dreaming of far away places and what I'd wear, say, if I was walking around exploring a new city in Italy. These Max Mara linen pants and Missoni knit scream Italian chic getaway. The cardigan can be worn with a few open buttons to showcase that sun kissed skin, or if you're a bit more modest, worn with a light tank top. I won't stop there, incorporate natural elements when accessorizing like colorful beaded pearl necklaces and a palm leaf woven hat. Off-set your earthy accessories with metallic gold sandals for a touch of glam and violà, you have your picture-perfect getaway look.
Shop the look: 1. Missoni crochet-knit cardigan, $1,060; 2. Lack of Color palma fedora, $99; 3. ÉLIOU dreux necklace, $198; 4. ÉLIOU gela necklace,$98; 5. Max Mara linen trousers, $745; 6. Aquazurra gold sandals, $695
Inspired by Mrs. Hailey Bieber herself, this outfit is super-model approved. Feminine and fun with crystal-adorned buttons and shoulder pads, this cardigan features elements of the '80s. Keep your outfit current by styling your vintage-inspired sweater with the immensely popular Bottega Veneta square toe mules. I mean, what's an off-duty model look without one of this season's most sought after accessories?
Shop the look: 1. Alessandra Rich cardigan, $785; 2. Le Specs sunglasses,$60; 3. Jenny Bird nova hoops, $95; 4. Levi's Jeans, $59; 5. B-Low The Belt belt, $165; 6. Bottega Veneta square toe mules, $690
Life's a breeze, as the saying goes, and there might be a literal breeze in the air at the beach, so you need a cardigan. This open knit, crochet piece will be your perfect beach companion as the sun starts to set. Keep this feminine pink cardigan, along with your slides, sand free in a beach tote during the day as you soak up the sun.
Shop the look: 1. LoveShackFancy cardigan, $345; 2. Jade Swim lido top, $110; 3. Fry Powers turquoise and pearl choker, $225; 4. Lizzie Fortunato heart necklace, $460; 5. Staud tropics pant, $225; 6. Loewe basket bag, $490; 7. Hermes Oran sandal, $650
Like the enviable French girl outfit, the "downtown girl" has an effortless formula too. Let's start at the bottom with biker shorts. This pair is called the "the skinny legend shorts," because they're formfitting. Next, focus on the top half of your outfit. Keep it cropped with this tee layered under a crop cardigan. Now that you have your base, accessorize with cool-girl elements. A designer bag, a bucket hat, a thick chain choker, and easy sneakers will complete your downtown girl outfit.
Shop the look: 1. Alexis cardigan, $286; 2. Livin Cool bucket hat, $70; 3. HRH Collection Luxe Lockdown necklace, $70; 4. Pretties top, $135; 5. HRH Collection Skinny Legend shorts, $42; 6. Dior Saddle bag, $3,350; 7. Vans platform sneakers, $70
Take the high fashion approach when styling your summertime cardigan. Miu Miu sent this shrunken sweater down the runway styled underneath a dress. Recreate the ensemble yourself with a sleeveless floral dress in a breezy fabric. Elevate this sweet look by adding large hammered gold hoops and a pair of oversized aviator sunglasses. This outfit is perfect for any spring/summer (garden) party.
Shop the look: 1. Zimmermann dress, $795; 2. Amavii Philip sunglasses, $155; 3. Jennifer Fisher hoops, $1,150; 4. Miu Miu off the shoulder knit, $1,510; 5. Les Petits Joueurs bag, $601; 6. Cult Gaia sandals, $388
Inspired by the Ibiza sunset, this printed cardigan will take center stage in your outfit. The bold print allows you to keep the rest of your summer look simple and comfortable. Layer a body-hugging bodysuit underneath to give yourself the option to wear your cardigan unbuttoned. Gold accessories and a funky shaped bag are the perfect complements to this laid-back look.
Shop the look: 1. House of Sunny day tripper cardigan, $98; 2. Frasier Sterling hoops, $52; 3. Zara bodysuit, $20; 4. Bauble Bar Hera link necklace, $48; 5. Bauble Bar initial pendant necklace, $48; 6. & Other Stories jeans, $79; 7. Jacquemus bag, $564; 8. Veja Esplar sneaker, $120
For more celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.