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How to Wear a Cardigan: Men's Styling Guide
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How to Wear a Cardigan: Men's Styling Guide

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You can’t go wrong with a cardigan. This light outerwear clothing option is ideal for creating a lived-in, layered look—especially during the summer to fall transition.

And yet, as a staple, it’s also one of the most elusive garments in a man’s capsule wardrobe. Many wonder how to wear a cardigan in a modern, sophisticated, and trend-forward way. 

We’re breaking down our best styling tips on how to wear your cardigan with confidence. Read on to find your most flattering fit, explore pairing and layering options, and style cardigans to match the season. 

mnml outerwear clothing collection

Experimenting With Different Fits and Styles 

When you picture a men’s cardigan, do you imagine a fitted garment that sticks snugly against your silhouette? Or do you think of an oversized, relaxed layer that’s just the right amount of slouch?

Both answers are right. That’s because the promise of cardigans lies in their versatility. 

Just like streetwear jackets or blazers, cardigans come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. Therefore, if anyone concludes that cardigans just aren’t for them, there’s a good chance they simply haven’t met their ideal match yet. 

If you want to learn how to wear a cardigan in a way that best suits your style, the first factor you need to consider is fit. 

Those who prefer clothing that looks more formal, traditional, or polished may want to choose a fitted cardigan. On the other hand, if you enjoy a more lived-in, laid-back, or streetwear style, you might enjoy baggy, oversized cardigans instead. You may end up enjoying both sides of the spectrum, or falling somewhere in the middle. 

Besides fit, other elements that influence the look and feel of a cardigan include: 

  1. Materials – From sheer fabric to chunky, heavier knitwear, cardigans come in many different forms. Thinner, more stylized garments such as our Distressed Cardigan work great when you want to enjoy a layered look, but don’t need a ton of insulation. On the other hand, heavier pieces like our Fuzzy Cardigan Sweater are perfect on a cold day. 
  2. Style – Some cardigans are crafted with buttons. Others feature zippers instead. Some cardigans are simply meant to remain open to reveal the garment underneath. There are many diverse styles to choose from. Our Checkered Cardigan is a contemporary take on the tried-and-true button-up style, finished with runs and distressing. 
  3. Design – Textures, colors, patterns, and more. From neutral, understated pieces to bold pops of color, the possibilities are limitless. For a classic argyle pattern, try our soft Mohair Cardigan Sweater, made from a blend of acrylic and cotton knit. 

From workwear that fits right in at the office to stylish streetwear that expresses your unique fashion sense, cardigans are a canvas to build upon. Start your cardigan collection with classic designs and timeless, neutral colors. Then, start experimenting with bolder styles to figure out how to wear a cardigan men like you feel confident in. 

mnml men's cardigan styling

Versatile Pairings with Cardigans

One cardigan can be dressed up, dressed down, accented, or contrasted in many ways. The overall appeal of your final look will depend on what you pair with it. Learning how to layer clothes is the key to increasing your piece’s versatility for all seasons.

Let’s explore some of the most effective ways you can pair cardigans with the men’s tops and bottoms you already have in your closet. 

Wearing Cardigans with Casual Shirts

The addition of a good cardigan can instantly boost the sophistication of an otherwise casual outfit. On the other hand, a casual shirt can also tone down the formality level of the cardigan. It all depends on what mood you’re aiming for. 

A common concern with cardigans is that if they are layered incorrectly, this outerwear can look frumpy or sloppy. But the truth is, pairing tees and polo shirts with cardigans is a breeze when you follow one simple rule of thumb: To prevent a bulky silhouette, make sure your undershirt is smaller and more form-fitting than the cardigan you wear over it. 

Instead of trying to layer a cardigan over a slouchy or boxy shirt, try pairing it with a slim, minimalistic option like our Every Day II Tee. The low, dropped shoulders of this relaxed shirt make it the perfect inner layer to place under your favorite cardigan. 

If polo shirts are more your style, our Terry Polo Shirt makes the ideal base layer to wear under a cardigan. Made with reverse terry fabric and a button placket at the chest, this shirt is completed with intricate striped ribbing.

Styling Cardigans with Jeans

Good old-fashioned denim jeans and comfortable cardigans are a classic aesthetic. 

Here are some popular garments you can use to create ideal jean-cardigan combos:

  • Classic blue jeans – Opt for a dark wash to achieve a more formal look ideal for special occasions. For casual outings or work attire, choose your personal favorite wash (and don’t be afraid to play around with lighter sky-blue hues with distressed detailing like our B455 Flare Denim.) 
  • Oversized jeans – A slouchy cardigan plus a baggy pair of jeans equals a comfortable, functional, fashionable fit. When you want to achieve an oversized silhouette, you can’t go wrong with our Ultra Baggy Denim pants. Complete this lived-in look with the Big Stripe Cardigan, a custom chunky knit sweater with big pockets and a nostalgic feel.
  • Black jeans – Our M11 Slim Denim in black is the quintessential pair of black jeans—for cardigans or otherwise. A trendy look in the modern landscape, all-black jeans are the foundation of so many looks. Wearing this classic color on the bottom gives you freedom to play around with more vibrant colors, textures, and patterns on top. 

Seasonal Styling with Cardigans

Few clothing items can boast as much seasonal versatility as the cardigan. 

Just think: a breathable cardigan makes the perfect outer layer for a fresh spring day. Choose a more lightweight textile for the spring and you’ll always have a comfortable layer to throw on over your tee or polo.

During the fall, break out some thicker cardigans. As the temperature fluctuates throughout the day, you can take this layer on and off easily to maintain optimal comfort. For an added layer of warmth, choose a long-sleeved shirt for your inner layer. Our Every Day II L/S Tee features a dropped shoulder design that layers up or down.

Winter is the season to master the art of smart layering. When it gets extra cold, you can start thinking about layering an additional jacket or coat over the top of your cardigan. Our Cable Knit Cardigan Sweater is perfect for the coldest months. Over this pop of pink, layer our Faux Fur Coat. The long and straight style of the coat creates a striking contrast with the shorter, more colorful cardigan. 

Explore New Cardigan Styles with mnml 

Cardigans are a staple in any well-rounded wardrobe. They’re sophisticated, comfortable, and versatile all year round. And when it comes to today’s streetwear styles, they’re setting the stage for adding taste, balance, and class. 

Ready to incorporate cardigans into your wardrobe? 

At mnml, we craft cardigans, sweaters, denim, and more with the latest streetwear cuts and styles. We’re committed to making every garment designer-quality—without the price tag. So you can invest in garments that last long and look great in any setting.