The best sweater collections are well-rounded: Your arsenal of cozy wares should include chunky cable knits and turtlenecks but ensure you have an array of lightweight sweaters. Think of a breezy, open-weave pullover or a sleeveless mock neck you can reach for on early spring days. And, of course, don't forget about a cropped cardigan, which, according to the Spring 2023 runways, is a standout silhouette for the upcoming season.
"The cropped cardigan trend is super hot at the moment because it offers the warmth of a cardigan, but with a playful (and sometimes skin-baring) edge," explains Katie Englund, Stitch Fix's stylist expert. She adds that the abbreviated knit is ideal for when the weather leaves you in wardrobe limbo.
What do you do when it's too warm to pull out your heavy wool sweaters but too cold to go without a knit of any kind? "Slip into a cropped cardigan and call it a day," says Englund. Below you'll find a round-up of the best cropped cardigans 2023's market has to offer and more expert insight on how to style the trending silhouette.
What to Look For
"Some clients might prefer an oversized boxy fit while others opt for a slim fit," says Englund. "Think about how you want to style the cropped cardigan. Will you wear a heavier long-sleeve shirt underneath or a tank top?" That, she says, should inform which fit you should choose.
"As far as materials go, cropped cardigans made from thicker fabrics, such as wool or cashmere, will provide you with a warm and cozy winter vibe," says the Stitch Fix stylist. She says that cotton, crochet, and open weaves are best if you like a lighter-weight, easy-breezy style.
- Personal Style
"When styling clients, I recommend looking for items that reflect their unique personal style," Englund explains. Ultimately, she says it's best to defer to your personal preference as opposed to what the trend cycle dictates or the present runways.
Shop the Best Cropped Cardigans
1,077 reviews. A rating average of five out of five stars. The reviewer feedback alone demonstrates why we've put Quince's baby alpaca-wool number on our list of the best cropped cardigans the internet offers. "The baby alpaca-wool cropped cardigan is exactly what I hoped it would be: comfy, cozy, cute, and chic," writes a more than satisfied Quince shopper. The length is great, perfect for being tucked or not. The buttons are classic, the wool is so soft, and the whole sweater looks rich and luxurious—but at a great price."
Layering with a cardigan has many benefits. Most obvious is that it will add another thermal element, which can be a game-changing factor during the colder seasons. Englund points out that an added-on cardi can also give your look a punch of personality. Try teaming this vibrant gradient option with front-pleat navy trousers and your best loafers. "My clients love to use a cardigan to add a pop of color to a neutral outfit—like this one from Raga," shares Stitch Fix's Styling Team Leader.
"A fitted, cropped cardigan pairs especially well with wide-leg pants, and we predict this proportion play (a trend from our recent 2023 Style Forecast) to continue into the coming year," the fashion expert tells Marie Claire. Yes, think of those 'little shirt, big pant' memes you see on social media that often reference outfits worn by Gen Z— Englund explains that those trend-driven Zoomers are onto something. Try your hand at a perfectly balanced-out combo by teaming Jacquemus' Le Cardigan Alzou—a very buzzy style you've seen on Insta—with baggy jeans, for instance.
Dear reader, meet one of Anthropologie's best-sellers, the Bestie Cardigan Sweater, from the retailer's own ready-to-wear line. It offers that chunky, grandpa-esque feel but with a splash of modernity due to its cropped fit. Take it from this happy shopper: "[I] absolutely love this cropped oversized boxy cardigan. I was pleasantly surprised by how soft it is. The style is so versatile I'm sure it will look lovely with just about anything—especially slip dresses," they gush. Another reviewer praises the cardigan's versatility, writing that it's the "perfect piece to throw on with any kind of outfit."
Need a mood-boosting pick-me-up in the form of clothing? Rag & Bone's Carson Cardigan, with its playful, macrame-like fabrication and hot pink look, will do the trick. And here's a bonus: Its open, breezy weave makes it an ideal piece to call on as the season transitions. It's what I like to call a trans-seasonal hero piece. "Cotton cardigans like this one from Rag & Bone will be lightweight and a better transition for spring or summertime," says the Stitch Fix expert.
Not a button enthusiast? Prefer your cardigans to be open and free-flowing? White + Warren's Cashmere Cropped Trapeze sweater is a luxe iteration of precisely what you're looking for. "This could be the perfect cardigan," a thoroughly enthused shopper claims. "It's incredibly soft, high quality, works perfectly, and is so adaptable. I use a shawl pin or brooch to secure the front sometimes, and it can be knotted if I'm wearing it over a dress," says the happy customer, on how to secure the button-less style.
This one's for all the sporty dressers. And, no, you don't have to actually play a sport or even hit the gym, for that matter, to qualify. If you're into laidback pieces and strive for a street-style edge in your looks, this Adidas cropped cardigan is for you. It's made of a plushy terry material, so it's cozy to the touch and ultra-comfortable. One Nordstrom shopper says this sweater is "everything," adding that "you can dress it up or keep it casual."
Calling all statement dressers and folks who like to turn heads when they walk in a room. This vivid yellow, puff-sleeve cardigan is a dream come true for you. The open pointelle design gives it a subtle artisanal feel, while the eye-popping, electric hue offers ample flair. As for styling this striking knit number, you'll want to keep it simple. "This cropped cardigan from Alice & Olivia, for instance, would work with a simple white t-shirt and a pair of black jeans," Englund explains.
You don't want to buy clothes solely based on how you think others will perceive you. You want to find clothing that speaks to you and reflects your authentic personality and taste. That being said, this rosette-adorned cropped cardigan made of a chunky wool blend is a compliment magnet. Just think of how many people will stop and ask you about it! This Nordstrom reviewer's account is proof: "I love this LSF sweater so much! It's lilac perfection. I get so many compliments whenever I wear it," they say.
Snag a cable-knit cardigan—like Free People's Bonfire Cardi—if you like the classic braided look but can't let yourself buy one more turtleneck. This chunky style with oversized buttons is a fan favorite, with over 100 reviews and an average four-and-a-half star rating demonstrating its wildly-beloved status. "I now have two, and I can't get enough," writes one Free People reviewer. Another shopper gushes, "if I could wear this every day in the winter and fall, I would. It's slightly cropped, which I love with a dress or high-waisted jeans."
Meet the Expert
As a Stitch Fix Styling Team Leader, Katie Englund manages a growing team of stylists across the Midwest Region. Katie leverages her previous marketing experience and 4+ years at Stitch Fix to lead a team focused on collaboration, problem-solving, and styling expertise. Katie is passionate about helping clients understand their personal style and is a big fan of building capsule wardrobes.
Stay In The Know
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Emma Childs is the Fashion Features Editor at Marie Claire, who writes trend reports, long-form reported features, and style guides. 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 fashion deep-dives, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage and perusing HBO Max (in her heart, it'll always be *HBO* MX).
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