Never go to work without a cardigan at the ready. If you work in an office that cranks up the AC and makes July feel more like January, you’ll always need something to keep you warm. And even if things don’t get that cold, having one is good for those days when you encounter an unexpected chill. Cardigans can also be part of a smart, work-friendly wardrobe, taking the place of blazers.
A hip-length cardigan with a belt makes your midsection look smaller, emphasizing an hourglass shape and even helping create curves where you might not have any. Wear it over a shift dress for a professional, boardroom-friendly look. If you work somewhere with a casual dress code, try it over a tank and your favorite skinny jeans. Just add some pointy-toe flats or leather boots and you’ll be set.
A twinset – which consists of a cardigan and a matching shell – never goes out of style. You can wear this staple with a sleek pencil skirt and heels for an interview, presentation or just another day at work. It’s also a solid match for a pair of slacks or khakis, though women’s jeans work if you have a denim-friendly office. Look for something with a fine gauge knit, which is soft, smooth and incredibly elegant. If you want to take things up a notch, add a string of pearls.
There should always be an open cardigan draped over the back of your chair. That way, you can grab it in an instant if you feel cold or even if you want to make your outfit look a little more put together. After all, even a plain tee looks more formal when combined with elegant knitwear, so you’ll always have something to toss on for that unexpected meeting. Even a summer frock can become an autumn staple when paired with an open cardigan and cozy tights.
A cardigan that reaches almost to your knees is a real statement piece and it can make you seem tall and slender, which is never a bad thing. Just make sure it has a nice placket and side vents so you can move easily. Try it over slim-fit pants or skinny jeans if relaxed attire is acceptable, or go for some chic faux leather leggings with your favorite heels.
Mix things up with a patterned cardigan covered in polka dots or a floral print. You can wear it buttoned up or open over a matching dress or camisole. Add some shoes that match one of the colors in the print for a put-together look that combines pretty and professional. But make sure your cardigan is made from a high-quality fabric like Supima cotton or those beautiful bright colors might fade too soon.
There’s nothing quite like a cashmere cardigan. This lush fiber is made from the finest Mongolian goat hair and actually feels softer the more you wear it. And every time you put it on, you’ll glow from the inside out – there’s nothing like a little luxury to brighten your smile, after all. Put it on any time you need a confidence boost. It’s also great for days when you’re heading out on the town after work, as you only need to add a little lipstick to get ready for cocktails with the girls or a romantic dinner.
Picking out the right outfit on those not-too-hot, not-too-cold days is always a challenge, but a short-sleeve cardigan makes it easier. Wear one on summer days when you need something to keep your shoulders warm. They’re also nice for pairing with anything that’s a little more revealing than something you’d normally wear at the office, like a spaghetti strap dress or a skimpy tank top.
Blazers can look great, but they don’t always feel so nice. Stiff, tight and hard to move in, they’re not something you want to wear eight hours a day. A sweater blazer lets you enjoy the best of both worlds, though. The snazzy lapels make it formal enough for meetings, but the soft cotton-wool blend moves with your body and feels extra snuggly. You can also wear one instead of a jacket on cool days – try it with jeans and a turtleneck.